Nursing Associate Foundation Degree

Study level: Undergraduate
HNC/HND courses
Nursing staff providing updates to a patient who is lying on a bed

The Nursing Associate role gives you the chance to make a real difference to the quality of life and care of people in a wide range of healthcare settings.

Year of entry


Coventry University (Coventry)
Coventry University (Vauxhall, London)

Study mode



2 years full-time

Course code


Start date

May 2024

Course overview

Fully accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) providing eligibility for registration as a Nursing Associate on successful completion of the course (additional costs may apply).

  • Well-established clinical placements, teaching and research links with local partner NHS trusts and other healthcare providers, such as private hospitals, hospices and community settings.
  • CU Scarborough start date: next available entry for CU Scarborough is September 2024.
  • Coventry University London: next available entry for Coventry University London is May 2024.
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Why you should study this course

Development of the health and social care workforce is pivotal to building the capacity and capability needed to deliver compassionate, high quality evidence-based care to a diverse and ageing population. This course gives you the opportunity to develop a range of practical skills and the underpinning knowledge to allow you to make a real difference to quality of life and care of people of all ages and in a wide range of healthcare settings.

The Nursing Associate foundation degree is designed to meet the educational requirements necessary for the nursing associate role, enabling successful graduates to register as a Nursing Associate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (additional costs may apply), and work supporting registered nurses delivering hands-on care in a wide variety of clinical settings.

It also offers a pathway to other nursing roles, including that of a graduate nurse through progression onto a pre-registration programme. After successfully completing this course it may be possible to transfer on to the second year of a BSc Nursing degree, but this would depend on NMC requirements and standards and your chosen field of nursing, therefore this cannot be guaranteed.

Equal time and weighting is given to the practical and theoretical components of the course. The course is taught by experienced nurses and healthcare professionals who will support you in your journey to becoming an NMC-registered Nursing Associate.

We have well established clinical placements, teaching and research links with local partner NHS trusts and other healthcare providers, such as private hospitals, hospices and community settings and commended by the NMC for our partnership working.

Placements will take place with one of our partner settings, which will normally be in the same region as your chosen campus, however, to ensure you have a breadth of placement experiences you may be required to travel to attend placements. In your placements you will be supernumerary (not counted in the staff numbers) and will have an allocated Practice Assessor and Practice Supervisor to facilitate and assess your learning in practice.

In response to a high demand for the nursing associate role, we offer a route on to this course at the Coventry, Scarborough and London campuses. The course was developed in collaboration with health and social care employers in Coventry and Warwickshire, Scarborough and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London. Our practice learning partners provide clinical learning placements for students and input to the ongoing development and evaluation of the course.

The programme was shortlisted for a Student Nursing Times and Apprenticeship award in 2019 and over 10% of students who completed the first programme have secured places on the prestigious Florence Nightingale Leadership course. This course is a direct entry (i.e. not part of an apprenticeship) version of the nursing associate foundation degree apprenticeship course.


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Accreditation and professional recognition

This course is recognised by the following professional bodies:

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The course is currently accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and on successful completion of the course you will be eligible to apply to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council Nursing Associate register. Registration is subject to meeting good health and character requirements and payment of a registration fee. Further details about the registration fee and process are available on the NMC website.

Nursing Associates are important members of the nursing team, contributing significantly to patient care. Watch our video to find out more.

Studying to become a Nursing Associate brought with it some amazing opportunities. I had exposure to all areas of nursing including Mental Health Nursing, Child Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing and of course Adult Nursing. I now work as a registered nursing associate in a busy respiratory unit. Little did I know that when I qualified, I would be in the middle of a pandemic, supporting and advocating for patients in ways I would have never imagined. But I feel thankful every day that I am in this role and have the opportunity to support patients and families. The support from the Nursing Associate team both within the university and the team in practice has been amazing.

Kelly Brown, Nursing Associate Graduate 2020
Two nursing students with a tutor in a ward environment

What you'll study

This course gives you the opportunity to develop a range of practical skills and the underpinning knowledge to allow you to make a real difference to quality of life and care of people of all ages and in a wide range of health care settings.

Equal time and weighting is given to the practical and theoretical components of the course. The course is taught by experienced nurses and healthcare professionals who will support you in your journey to becoming an NMC registered Nursing Associate.

On commencing the course, you will study two modules. This will be an introduction to science and a clinical skills module spanning 13 weeks before you start your first 10-week mandatory placement, which is sourced by the university. You will then undertake a module to develop more advanced clinical skills and underpinning knowledge before your second 10-week placement of year one.


  • The aim of this module is to introduce you to the scientific foundations of nursing which apply to holistic care across the lifespan. You will develop your knowledge of relevant human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, sociology and pharmacology and learn to appreciate how this applies to care delivery in a variety of settings. You will also be introduced to the topic of maternal health and care related to childbirth and key concepts that underpin nursing practice.


  • This module aims to introduce you to the concept of health and wellbeing, enabling an understanding of the bio-psychosocial needs of the patient group across the life span. It introduces a number of models, concepts, frameworks and theories of assessment, and helps you to identify personal attributes and professional skills that facilitate the interpersonal relationships used during the assessment process, enabling you to contribute to the delivery of care.


  • This mandatory 10-week placement module, which is sourced by the university, aims to enable you to demonstrate and promote professional values, attitudes and behaviours in a practice-based learning setting. You will develop your communication and interpersonal skills working within multidisciplinary teams providing safe holistic compassionate patient-centred care.


  • This module is designed to develop your ability to apply relevant physiological and psychological knowledge to the assessment and management of care across the lifespan. Successful completion of the module will enable you to provide appropriate physical and mental healthcare as informed by a person-/family-centred assessment of the individuals’ care requirements. Health needs and provision of care will be explored across primary, secondary and third sector care environments and the role of Nursing Associates in assessing physical and mental health risks to promote health and wellbeing will be explored.


  • This mandatory practice-based learning module which is a 10-week placement module sourced by the university, aims to further develop your knowledge and understanding of the patient journey with emphasis on social, economic, cultural and environmental factors that influence individual and community health and wellbeing. You should develop skills in recognising health inequities locally, nationality and internationally and recognise indicators of unhealthy lifestyle and apply your knowledge of health promotion and wellbeing including 'Making Every Contact Count' (MECC) during care delivery.


In year two, you will learn about the evidence base underpinning nursing care and develop your knowledge of drugs and therapies for all age groups and fields of nursing. This will equip you for your first clinical placement of year two. You will then go on to develop your knowledge of legal and ethical aspects of care and advance your teaching skills prior to your final 10-week clinical placement of year two. As in year one all placements are sourced by the university.


  • The module aims to introduce you to a range of therapeutic approaches/models that underpin nursing practice. You will be encouraged to examine how these approaches are reflected within the role, responsibilities and functions of the nursing associate.


  • In this module you will be introduced to evidence-based practice and research in nursing. You will develop understanding of your usefulness and importance in contributing to underpinning nursing knowledge and decisions. You will gain a fundamental understanding of various methodological approaches and the research process. The skills of appraising evidence and research will be explored and developed.


  • This mandatory practice-based module which is the third 10-week placement on this course and sourced by the university, aims to provide you with opportunities to build on your foundation skills for practice gained in year one. It will enable you to work more independently with increasing competence in the role of a nursing associate student, including the ability to contribute to the evaluation of quality holistic person-centred care.


  • Successful completion of this module enables you to demonstrate the skills, attitudes and behaviours that support personal development and lifelong learning. You will examine the principles and evidence that underpin approaches to learning and the contribution of learning theory will be explored to illustrate application in the assessment, planning and delivery of teaching.


  • This module will introduce you to the underlying principles of healthcare ethics, legislation and social policy. This will include the protection of vulnerable people across the lifespan including those with complex needs. It is designed to equip you with the ability to recognise ethical challenges relating to people's choices and decision-making about their health and wellbeing across care settings. The ability to act within the law to help service users, families and carers to manage needs will be explored.


  • The aim of this module is that you will be able to identify the principles of team working. On this course’s final 10-week mandatory placement which is sourced by the university, you will be provided with the opportunities to display a range of competencies, attitudes and behaviours required of a Nursing Associate. This module also aims to provide you with additional opportunity to display your ability to work independently with distant supervision, in a safe and increasingly confident manner to deliver quality holistic person-centred care. It will provide you with the opportunity to extend and apply the knowledge and skills you gave gained on the course.


We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

This course offers a blended mode of delivery combining a wide range of online resources including videos, quizzes, games and workbooks with contact teaching time which includes workshops, seminars and clinical skills teaching in laboratories.

As digital literacy and technology is such an important factor in the delivery of healthcare, you will be supported to develop your digital literacy from the outset of the course.

In a typical 30-hour week, you will have around 15 hours of teaching contact hours which is made up of lectures and tutorials supplemented by online learning. This will lessen as you progress through the course and become better equipped to use the online learning resources. Developing independent learning capabilities and using digital learning resources are essential to equip you for lifelong learning and further study.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions or orders, and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


A wide variety of assessment are used throughout the course with half of the assessments taking place in your clinical placement areas. All of the assessments are designed to integrate theory and practice and to build on previous learning experiences. As you will be working 30 hours each week on your university studies or placement, this has been taken into account during the scheduling of the assessments to ensure a balanced and manageable assessment load both within modules and for the duration of the course.

Assessments include case study-based essays, presentations, reflections, practical clinical examinations, teaching Service Users or peers, and exams such as drug knowledge and calculations. Resources such as interactive workbooks and online quizzes are provided to help you assess your own learning as well as preparing you for assessments. Compassionate and caring attitudes and values are central to the role and will be assessed throughout the course.

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

International experience opportunities

As nursing associate students will be caring for service users from diverse populations, the course content will reflect this to include information and discussions to ensure cultural awareness and understanding of a range of topics such as societal influences, organ donation, end of life care, genetic conditions and other lifestyle factors. Opportunities to take part in international events on the campus and locally will be shared (which may be subject to additional costs and application).

The Nursing Associate role is unique to England. However the course will give you a wide range of placement learning experiences caring for people from diverse cultural backgrounds and can offer you a great foundation for working in an international care setting.

Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.


Requirement What we're looking for
A level 32 UCAS points 
GCSE Minimum GCSE English and Mathematics graded 9-4 / A*- C or equivalent such as Functional Skills Level 2
BTEC 32 UCAS points 
Access Diploma 32 UCAS points from an Access to Higher Education Diploma, Access to Nursing or NVQ Level 3

We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

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Additional requirements

Other requirements include commitment to completing a Foundation Degree programme, intermediate IT skills, evidence of time management skills and ability to prioritise. An ability to work within multidisciplinary teams, escalate concerns, and show initiative are essential requirements for the role.

In line with the National Health Service constitution, we use a values-based recruitment approach in seeking candidates with the appropriate values to support effective team working and the delivery of excellent patient care. As part of this you will be required to attend a selection event, which serves to provide you with detailed information about the course and an opportunity take part in a group discussion to enable values and aptitude to be assessed

Satisfactory health clearance, DBS checks and criminal records disclosure are also required prior to you attending a placement in a social and/or healthcare facility as part of the course5.

Fees and funding

2023/24 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK £9,250 per year Not available

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.


Our multi-million-pound Alison Gingell Building features a range of mock healthcare settings, including hospital wards, ambulance, therapy suites and community houses, giving you the opportunity to replicate real-life situations before you go on placement.

You’ll have the opportunity to make use of our extensive simulation facilities – from basic life support manikins to high tech simulation manikins, which emulate patient responses and test resuscitation skills. You will also use healthcare devices found in the real world of practice.

Students and a tutor with a manikin in the hospital ward

Mock hospital wards

Our mock hospital wards and critical care settings give you the chance to experience patient scenarios in a real-world environment.

Students practicing patient therapy in a community house setting

Community houses

Learn how to work with patients outside of a hospital setting in our simulated, two full-size community homes, specifically built for teaching.

Students in scrubs in the mock operating theatre

Mock operating theatre

Our Alison Gingell building includes a full-size mock operating theatre, containing scrub sinks and theatre lights.

The facilities available to you during the face-to-face teaching at our London campus in the new Hudson Building include a mock ward, high dependency unit and clinical skills centre with state-of-the-art equipment and simulators.

This range of mock healthcare settings, which also include therapy suites and a community apartment, give you the opportunity to replicate real-life situations before you go on placement.

You’ll make use of our extensive simulation facilities – from basic life support mannequins to high tech simulation dummies, which emulate patient responses and test resuscitation skills. You will also use equipment found in the real world of practice, such as medical devices to assist with all elements of care, particularly medication administrations.

You will use equipment found in the real world of practice, such as medical devices to assist with all elements of care including medication administration, to help build confidence before you go on placement.

Students in the hospotal ward around a mannequin in a hospital bed

Simulation facilities

You’ll be able to make use of our extensive simulation facilities – from basic life support mannequins to high tech simulation dummies, which emulate patient responses and test resuscitation skills.


Mock hospital ward at the CU Scarborough campus

Mock hospital ward

Gaining experience using simulation across a range of care settings is aimed at building your confidence and knowledge about how to act in these situations. You can practise and develop your clinical and interpersonal skills in a safe but realistic environment.

Nursing studenttaking an actor's blood pressure

Realistic scenarios

We use actors to enhance your experience, giving you the opportunity to replicate real-life situations including breaking bad news, demonstrating emotional resilience, conflict, aggression, teaching and child protection conference.

Careers and opportunities

The Nursing Associate foundation degree includes a comprehensive range of modules which were developed in collaboration with health and social care employers. This helps ensure our graduates are equipped for employment in a wide range of health and social care settings both locally and nationally.

Throughout the course you will have opportunities to experience a variety of clinical placements and visits to different care settings which will help you decide where you would like to apply to work on completion of the course2.

Where our graduates work

Our graduates are employed in acute care organisations, community care settings and within general practice and social care.

What our alumni say

The course has given me exposure to working with so many teams and learning about roles that I might be able to take on.

Laura Rozic, Nursing Associate Apprenticeship Route graduate 2020
A nursing student working with a manikin in a care environment

How to apply

  • Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS. Part-time students should apply directly to the university. Read our application pages to find out your next steps to apply.

    If you'd like further support or more information about your course get in touch with us today.

    If you’d like to apply for this course at our CU Scarborough campus then visit our application pages for further information. Find out what life is like as a CU Scarborough student on our dedicated website.

    To apply for this course at Coventry University (Vauxhall, London) visit our application guidance pages for further advice. Explore our dedicated website to find out what life as a student is like in the capital city of London.

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London Campus, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the “University”) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University. 


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or International opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel COVID and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand the visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For International Students, we may increase fees each year but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the 2023/24 contract can be found here. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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