Learning Disabilities Nursing BSc (Hons)Study level: Undergraduate
Professionally Accredited Programmes
Learning disabilities nursing is a great career choice if you are compassionate and keen to support people with learning disabilities and/or autism who face physical, mental and social challenges.
Year of entry
Coventry University (Coventry)
CU Scarborough (Scarborough)
3 years full-time
Fully accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) providing eligibility for registration as a nurse on successful completion of the course (additional costs may apply).
- Ranked 11th in the UK for Nursing and Midwifery in the Guardian University Guide 2022.
- All home students on this course can apply for a minimum payment from the Government of £5,000 per year, with additional payments for students incurring childcare costs6.
- Study in the state-of-the-art Alison Gingell Building4 which features hospital wards, operating theatre, critical care settings, community housing and other real-life nursing environments relevant to practice.
Joint Top Modern University for Career ProspectsGuardian University Guide 2021 and 2022
5 QS Stars for Teaching and FacilitiesQS Stars University Ratings
Top 5 UK Student City (Coventry)QS Best Student Cities Index 2023
Why study this course
The Learning Disabilities Nursing BSc (Hons) emphasises the value of people with learning disabilities as equal citizens. It is designed to enable people who have a real contribution to make to work collaboratively towards the development of compassionate, innovative and autonomous professional nursing practitioners, upon successful completion.
You will be offered the opportunity to study and develop specialist skills in communication, comprehensive person-centred health assessment, and professional skills to enable you to work in specialist areas in the field of Learning Disabilities nursing practice following graduation.
In modern health and social care settings nursing students are increasingly required to work towards becoming autonomous practitioners, taking a leadership role in decisions regarding patient care within multi-professional settings. They routinely have frequent and what can be intense contact with service users and so must be competent in recognising changes in the patient’s condition so that appropriate action can be taken.
This course offers thorough preparation to help graduates make a valued and professional contribution to the dynamic and rapidly changing health and social care landscape.
Opportunities are provided to gain hands-on experience under supervision from qualified mentors, with 50% of the course spent in clinical practice placements5 across a wide range of healthcare environments including community and hospital settings, both within NHS and independent services.
You will have the opportunity to work and study in collaboration with other health and social care students, with the chance to work together to explore specific issues and challenges, designed to broaden the knowledge and professional expertise of nursing and health professionals.
You’ll have the opportunity to make use of our extensive simulation facilities4 – from basic life support manikins to high-tech simulation dummies, which emulate patient responses. You will have the chance to use equipment found in the real world of practice, such as medical devices to assist with all elements of care and especially medication administration. You will also have the opportunity to take part in our Mask-Ed character learning scenarios.
Accreditation and professional recognition
This course is accredited4 and recognised by the following bodies:
Nursing and Midwifery Council
The course is accredited by the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the 2023/24 intake and, providing you also meet the NMC requirements, on successful completion you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (subject to additional costs).
Simulating real-life situations
Our students use a persona-led teaching and learning tool to simulate scenarios they will encounter when qualified. See how this enables students to develop the soft skills which are vital to working in healthcare.
Training to be a Learning Disability Nurse has been a phenomenal experience. The versatile and transferable skills that are acquired whilst on the course are invaluable. Not only are you trained to care for service users across the lifespan but the communication skills that I have developed ensure that I am equipped to care for a variety of service users with many diverse needs. Overall, I cannot praise the Learning Disability Nursing course enough and would encourage anyone thinking of going into nursing to seriously give Learning Disability Nursing real consideration.
What you'll study
Year one is designed to enable you to develop the fundamental skills required to become an effective Learning Disabilities Nurse. You will gain an understanding of the importance of evidence-based decision-making and putting service users, their carers and families at the centre of care.
The Scientific Foundations of Nursing - 20 credits
This module will introduce the scientific foundations of nursing which apply to holistic care across the lifespan and key concepts that underpin nursing practice. It will enable you to develop your knowledge of relevant human anatomy and physiology. Moreover, principles of microbiology, psychology, sociology and pharmacology will be explored, and an introduction of the common physiological dysfunctions associated to specific fields of practice will be included. Pharmacological treatment associated to common conditions will be examined.
Fundamental Skills for Person- and Family -Centred Practice - 20 credits
This module aims to introduce you to the fundamental skills required for person- and family-centred practice. You will be introduced to the concepts and theories relevant to the assessment of health and wellbeing across the lifespan, in a range of care settings for the four fields of nursing.
Study skills for Evidence Based Practice - 10 credits
This module aims to develop your academic writing skills, critical-thinking ability and reflective practice in the context of degree-level study. The content will also refer to numeracy skills, which for nursing are crucial in patient safety and wellbeing. Some skills will also relate to developing competence in database searching and subsequently its importance in the utilisation and application of evidence-based nursing practice. The content of the module will also include relevant organisational skills and maintenance of personal wellbeing.
The Foundations of Evidence-Informed Practice - 10 credits
This module aims to introduce you to evidence-based practice and research in nursing. You will have the opportunity to 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.
Health and Wellbeing in the Community - 20 credits
This module aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the social, politico-economic, cultural and environmental factors that influence individual and community health and wellbeing. The module aims to draw upon key international, national and local initiatives to support learning and will take place within an inter-professional context.
To achieve this aim, you will explore concepts of wellbeing, disabilities, disease and illness, health inequality and inequity. In addition, you will examine key health and social care initiatives that will enable you to understand the importance of person-centred approaches to wellbeing, prevention, care and support. As you progress through the module you will develop inter-professional capabilities of communication, role clarification, decision-making and team-working enabling you to practice and promote healthy conversations about lifestyle.
Introduction to the Foundations of Nursing Practice (Practice 1) - 20 credits
This module5 introduces you to the foundations of nursing practice in the workplace. The experience will provide you with learning opportunities (under supervision) which will begin to develop the professional values, attitudes and behaviours required to deliver safe and effective holistic person- and family-centred care.
The Foundations of Nursing Practice (Practice 2) - 20 credits
This module5 provides extended opportunity for you to contribute to the foundations of nursing practice in the workplace. This experience will enable you to demonstrate and promote professional values, attitudes and behaviours required to deliver safe and effective holistic person-centred care.
Building on the theory and practice of year 1, the second year of the programme aims to enable further skills development in care provision across the lifespan. Professional skills should be further developed to enable the nursing professional the opportunity to carry out holistic assessment of needs and plan effective care for service users. Ethical and legal aspects of clinical decision-making in the context of nursing are also explored.
Ethical and Legal Decision Making in the Context of Nursing - 20 credits
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. You should be equipped to recognise ethical challenges relating to people's choices and decision-making about their health and wellbeing across care settings. Ability to act within the law to help service users, families and carers to manage needs will be explored.
Developing the Management of Care Across the Lifespan (Practice 3) - 20 credits
This module5 provides you with opportunities in the workplace to build on your foundations of practice and enable you to work more independently with less direct supervision in an increasingly competent and confident manner to deliver quality holistic person- and family-centred care. It will provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate, through your practice, your potential to become an autonomous practitioner.
Assessing Needs and Planning Care Across the Lifespan - 20 credits
The module aims to build on assessment skills leading on to the development of personalised plans of care. It aims to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to undertake comprehensive and systematic assessments and interpret data in order to support individuals with acute and complex health needs across the lifespan. You will be supported to consider the holistic care needs of individuals who are among the most marginalised within our society.
Advancing Therapeutic Care in Learning Disabilities Nursing - 20 credits
This module aims to enable you to develop further knowledge of theories, models and concepts of behavioural issues in the field of learning disabilities practice. The causes and presentation of behaviours which are considered to be challenging will be explored. The module will provide grounding in the safe management of behaviours that may present a challenge to the personal safety of the practitioner, other service users and colleagues.
You will gain an understanding of the causes and presentation of mental disorder in learning disabilities. Offending behaviour will also be examined. An awareness of social demographics in these areas will also be developed. Available services will be explored with a focus on their history and development. The module will also examine issues around access to these services that are pertinent to people with learning disabilities across the lifespan.
Managing Care Across the Lifespan (Practice 4) - 20 credits
This module5 provides you with additional opportunities to display your ability to work more independently, with less direct supervision, in a safe and increasingly confident manner to deliver quality holistic person- and family-centred care. It will provide you with the opportunity to extend and apply your knowledge and skills towards becoming an autonomous practitioner.
Facilitation and Teaching of Learning in Practice - 10 credits
This module demonstrates how the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards Framework for Nursing and Midwifery Education (particularly Part 2- Standards for Student Supervision and Assessment) (NMC, 2018) are applied in practice.
This module will enable you to understand the role of the practice supervisor (in association with the practice assessor and academic assessor) through reflective practice and the novice to expert model. This module aims to develop your inter-professional learning and working through supporting and supervising fellow students of the multidisciplinary team.
Developing Evidence Informed Decision Making in Nursing - 10 credits
This module provides you with the opportunity to build further on skills and knowledge related to research and evidence-informed practice acquired in year one. It enables you to develop specific nursing-focused questions to underpin evidence-informed decision-making and practice. You will develop a research proposal to underpin year three work. The processes of literature review and research production, including ethical requirements will be analysed, taking into account global and cultural perspectives.
The final year offers the opportunity to investigate complex care needs and the opportunity to take greater steps towards becoming an autonomous practitioner upon graduation. Program participants are given the opportunity to consider innovative approaches to the development of Learning Disabilities service provision, with consideration given to contemporary issues in professional nursing practice.
Leadership and Management for Healthcare Professionals - 20 credits
This module aims to support the development of the leadership behaviours and management skills required to function effectively as a newly qualified registered healthcare professional working within the multi-professional team in the delivery of high-quality care.
You will critically examine clinical leadership and ‘followership’ models and the concept of empowerment and distributed leadership, to gain understanding of ethical leadership, culture and values within the delivery of care. You will explore the concepts of service improvement and gain experience of leading and participating in projects, using relevant management tools and techniques.
You will reflect on your observed experience of clinical leadership behaviours and management skills whilst on clinical placement throughout their course, to develop a personal development plan to guide your ongoing leadership development as a healthcare professional.
Application of Complex Care in Integrated Care Settings - 20 credits
This module aims to explore and critically debate issues related to specialist and innovative learning disabilities practice in local, national and international context. You will be exposed to discussion and debate on core topics intrinsic to learning disabilities. You will apply contemporary knowledge which will inform learning disabilities practice.
Co-ordinating Health and Social Care (Practice 5) - 20 credits
This module5 aims to extend your ability to practice more independently in a safe and increasingly competent and confident manner. This will enable you to become autonomous practitioners who are responsible and accountable for safe, compassionate, person-centred, evidence-informed nursing that respects and maintains dignity and human rights.
Specialist Issues in Learning Disabilities Nursing - 10 credits
Learning disabilities nurses are expected to be able to adapt their practice and the support they offer according to the needs of service users, in a variety of health settings. In this module you will have the opportunity to further examine care packages and critically evaluate the relationship between the complex care needs of people with learning disabilities and role of the learning disability nurse.
The Autonomous Practitioner (Practice 6) - 20 credits
This module aims to provide you with opportunities to practice the competencies identified for registration as a nurse which are stipulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2018). This includes demonstrating your competence to:
- Practice autonomously, compassionately, skilfully and safely whilst maintaining dignity and promoting health and wellbeing
- Display professional accountability and responsibility by the use of clinical governance processes to maintain and improve nursing practice and standards of healthcare
- Use management and leadership skills to take the lead in coordinating, delegating and supervising care safely, including the management of risk and ensuring public safety
- Communicate in a safe, effective, compassionate and respectful manner
- Exhibit the capability of informed decision making to promote, plan, and prioritise service delivery.
Evidence-Based Project - 20 credits
This module provides you with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth exploration in an area of special interest which will have relevance to nursing practice and which makes clear connections with local and/or national priorities in health and social care. You will establish a specific question upon which to focus and using an appropriate method of enquiry, you will be required to systematically investigate the question and analyse the information generated in order to derive a set of findings or results using a literature-based strategy. On the basis of the study results, you will be encouraged to identify the implications and recommendations for professional nursing practice and collaborative healthcare. On completion of this module, you will have an enhanced understanding of the relationship between the research and evidence-based practice and professional nursing care.
Transition to the Accountable Practitioner - 10 credits
This module will critically review the accountability and responsibility of the registered nurse in clinical practice. It will explore the key attributes of accountable practice such as individual accountability, escalating concerns, managerial responsibilities, safety, quality, delegation and clinical decision-making within the context of providing safe, effective, person centred and compassionate care.
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 is designed to use a wide variety of approaches to teaching and learning to suit individual learning styles. This includes a series of interactive lectures with associated seminars and skills lab activities. All modules are mandatory so that upon successful completion you should have the knowledge, values and skills to be able to work within integrated care settings and enhance the delivery of care for service users, their families and carers.
With the chance to gain experience using simulation across a range of care settings, this is designed to build your confidence and knowledge about how to act in these situations and is a central part of the course. It is designed so that you have the opportunity to practise and develop your clinical and interpersonal skills in a safe but realistic environment. We also use actors, so that you have the chance to enhance your exposure to these experiences in scenarios such as breaking bad news, demonstrating emotional resilience, conflict, aggression, teaching, child protection conferences, relationship issues in learning disability, alternative communication (e.g. Makaton, communication aids etc.), consent and capacity, ethical issues in caring for vulnerable people, and counselling individuals, parents and staff.
As 50% of the course is practice based, this requires approximately 40 hours per week in placements5. In a typical teaching week, you will have up to 21 ‘contact’ hours of teaching. This generally includes:
- Personal tutorial/small group teaching
- Medium group teaching
- Large group teaching
The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online classes and tutorials.
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.
This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module.
Assessment methods include:
- Assessments within practice placements
- Formal examinations
- Group work
- Vivas (oral tests)
- Individual Assignments
The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards the achieving the intended learning outcomes.
International experience opportunities
Throughout the course, we aim to provide key insights into cultural diversity and global issues of significance to public health and in most fields of nursing practice2. For example, we look at what it means to be culturally competent within healthcare today. Some of this is supported by guest lecturers or simulation facilitators and others through topical issues covered within the course (subject to availability).
Students and visiting lecturers from other countries can provide an input into the course, previously from areas such as Hong Kong, Hungary and USA. We have also previously participated in a number of senior staff exchanges, for example, from India and China, which has provided additional insights for past students into international issues.
The academic staff have vast knowledge supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health. The team have worked closely with the criminal justice system as well as working with individuals with profound learning disabilities.
Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.
Fees and funding
2023/24 tuition fees.
|UK||£9,250 per year||Not available|
|EU||Not available||Not available|
|International||£19,850 per year||Not available|
A non-repayable grant of £5,000 and extra payments worth up to £3,000 may be available to eligible home students for each year of study. Read more about this in the NHS Learning Support Fund information booklet.
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.
We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.
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. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.
How do you know if you need to pay UK or international tuition fees?
We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.
If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.
Our multi-million-pound Alison Gingell Building4 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.
Mock hospital wards
Our mock hospital wards and critical care settings give you the chance to experience patient scenarios in a real-world environment.
Learn how to work with patients outside of a hospital setting in our simulated, two full-size community homes, specifically built for teaching.
Mock operating theatre
Our Alison Gingell building includes a full-size mock operating theatre, containing scrub sinks and theatre lights.
You will use equipment4 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.
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
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.
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
There are currently around over 3,500 learning disabilities nurses within the NHS and demand for these specialist nurses is high. Typically, past final year students have been offered a range of posts within the NHS and the private sector prior to qualifying.
As a learning disability nurse, you will have opportunities to support people of all ages with learning disabilities in a range of settings, which may include hospital wards such as epilepsy and palliative care; mental health trusts; adult education; residential and community centres; patients' homes; workplaces; and schools. Career options, upon successful completion, may include working in specialist areas such as education, sensory disability or service management or moving into areas such as management, teaching or clinical research.
During your three years on the programme, you will have the opportunity5 to undertake six placements in a range of service settings, with the chance to work with and alongside qualiﬁed learning disability nurses, and therefore potential local and regional employers. On graduating successfully from this course, you can apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which can enable you to practise immediately (additional costs apply). Please see the Accreditation and Professional Recognition section for further information.
Where our graduates work
The majority of our graduates ﬁnd employment as qualiﬁed nurses in the NHS with a growing emphasis on community settings, in acute hospitals, military nursing or within the private and independent healthcare sector, in private hospitals, nursing or care homes. As your career progresses, a number of options are open to you as a lecturer or specialist practitioner, advanced nurse practitioner, consultant nurse or manager.
Recent graduates have gone on to roles such as working in forensic services, generic and specialised children’s services, end of life care (adults and children), neurology services, dementia services, prison and court diversion, police diversion, schools, research and many more.
The course at Coventry University offered me the opportunity to gain an in-depth experience and the academic staff were supportive and encouraging throughout. The skills and knowledge gained have allowed me to develop and become a compassionate Learning Disability Nurse.
How to apply
Full-time students applying to start in September 2023 can apply for this course through UCAS from 6 September 2022. Read our application pages to find out your next steps to apply.
Part-time students should apply directly to the university.
If you'd like further support or more information about your course get in touch with us today.
Full-time students applying to start in September 2023 should apply directly to the university.How to apply
For further support for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree view our International hub.
You can also download our International guide which contains lots of useful information about our courses, accommodation and tips for travel.
Get in touch with us today for further advice and guidance.
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.
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.
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 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. Due to the ongoing restrictions relating to COVID-19, some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and may have reduced availability or restrictions on their use.
Satisfactory health clearance and enhanced criminal record disclosure is also required. As part of the health clearance checks you will be required to provide information about your immunity and vaccination status. You will also be required to provide information about your COVID-19 vaccination status. We therefore recommend that you are fully vaccinated including the COVID-19 vaccine. The information you provide will be used to determine your eligibility to go on placement(s). Placements are provided at the placement provider’s discretion. The University is therefore unable to guarantee the provision of placements or the location and type of placement offered.
The rules may be subject to review by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the future and as a result may change. Please therefore check the NHSBSA website for up-to-date information before applying.
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.