Learning Disabilities Nursing BSc (Hons)

Study level: Undergraduate
A nurse attending a patient who is using a desktop computer.

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


CU Scarborough (Scarborough)

Study mode



3 years full-time

Course code


Start date

September 2023

Available through Clearing

Clearing applications for September 2023 are now closed to international students due to visa and immigration requirements. Check out our January 2024 entry courses.

Course overview

Fully accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council1 (NMC) providing eligibility for registration as a nurse on successful completion of the course (additional costs may apply).

  • You’ll spend up to 50% of your time on clinical practice placements5 in a range of healthcare environments such as within the NHS in hospitals and community placements, at private hospitals and independent care providers.
  • Study and develop specialist skills in communication, comprehensive health assessment, equality and issues related to professional practice.
  • All eligible 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.

Why you should study this course

Learning disability (LD) nurses play a critical role in improving their patients’ physical and mental health, reducing barriers to them living an independent life and supporting them to lead a fulfilling and healthy life where they can relate to others on equal terms. A hugely rewarding profession, it is a great career choice if you are compassionate and keen to support individuals of all ages through the many physical, mental and social challenges facing people with learning disabilities.

This course aims to prepare you for the dynamic and fast-changing health and social care system, developing you into an adaptable, flexible, reflective, competent and compassionate practitioner. Actively engaging with people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, you’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience under supervision from qualified mentors on placement.

While the course has a clear focus on people with learning disabilities, a key benefit of our curriculum is the notion of collaboration across all areas of health and social care. Your studies will be complemented with significant insights into a range of potential challenges to health and wellbeing throughout the lifespan, such as mental health, complex care and life limiting conditions. Some modules are also studied in conjunction with other health and social care professionals; looking at specific issues and challenges they face to broaden your knowledge and expertise.

You will have the opportunity to learn the value of people with learning disabilities as equal citizens and people who have a real contribution to make to your development as a caring professional nurse in this unique field of practice. You will have the opportunity to study and develop specialist skills in communication, comprehensive health assessment, equality and issues related to professional practice. This includes complex health needs, profound and multiple needs, care packages and therapeutic approaches to service users with learning disabilities, their families and carers.

The collaborative curriculum, which you’ll study alongside students from other health-related courses, has been developed in response to the need to produce professionals who are effective communicators, caring and compassionate, with good relationship-building skills. It recognises the importance of interprofessional working within the health and social care workforce.

Placing equal value on practice and theory, undertaking 800 hours of both per year, you will have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, psychology, sociology and research methods. This course will give you the opportunity to become immersed in learning about the needs of populations, individuals, related health and nursing services with an emphasis on using research to enhance and improve services.

Your degree culminates with a literature review related to one aspect of nursing practice, equivalent to the standard dissertation, for which you will write a 4,000-word report. Past students have covered topics as diverse as effects of antipsychotic medication, uptake of annual health checks, treatment of people with LD in acute hospital settings, experiences of parents with LD and experiences of offenders with LD, for example.

Accreditation and professional recognition

This course is accredited1 and recognised by the following bodies:

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Nursing and Midwifery Council

The course is fully 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. The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the regulator for nursing and midwifery professions in the UK. It maintains a register of all nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses eligible to practise within the UK.

Learning Disability Nurses are activists, advocates, investigators and carers. We are proud to support the Royal College of Nursing in celebrating this wonderful profession.

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Every CU Scarborough nursing graduate secures local work

Each and every nursing student who graduated from CU Scarborough last year has now found work within local NHS services.

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What you'll study

The first year prepares you for further study and facilitates the understanding of the core principles which underpin learning disability nursing. From the offset, you are introduced to the impact of social determinants, cultures and environmental factors on the nursing industry. This introductory year aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the key issues and problems in the contemporary development of learning disabilities nursing. You’ll explore biological and pharmacology principles, the industry context and nursing basics providing a solid foundation for progression into years two and three.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


As the course progresses, students build on the knowledge gained in year one to cement a solid foundation of core principles. At this level, you’re working on more complex issues and advancing your capability of autonomous working. Enhancing your fundamental understanding of nursing theory, you’ll put your knowledge into practice in a number of interactive modules. You will explore different pathways of care, therapeutic approaches, and evaluate decision making established on evidence collation.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


This year you are working at a professional level, taking on the perspective of an accountable practitioner and clarifying your nursing skills. You’ll be building on the culmination of knowledge gained in previous years and focusing on transferable skills such as project management, time management and prioritisation. Centring on contemporary topics, you’ll cover immediate issues, care packages, lead service, and management and leadership. You’ll be confident in your own development planning and demonstrate commitment to your continuous improvement as a skilful, accountable practitioner of learning disability nursing.


  • 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 your course, to develop a personal development plan to guide your ongoing leadership development as a healthcare professional.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 uses a wide variety of stimulating approaches to teaching and learning to suit individual learning styles. This includes a series of interactive lectures with associated seminars, skills lab activities and practical placements. All modules are mandatory to enable you to exit the programme with 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.

The course is underpinned by an approach to professional care which is characterised by empathy, respect, dignity and kindness towards patients and their families. We will encourage you to develop an in-depth understanding of the organisation and culture of modern healthcare systems, equipping you with the confidence to be able to take a stronger role in the leadership and management of resources in delivering treatment and healthcare options to patients.

Throughout your studies, in groups and individually, you will undertake profession specific health and social care related projects and case studies. These may, for example, include an appraisal of the role of the nurse in ethical and legal decision making, considering service improvement bids or complex care planning and delivery via the multi-disciplinary team. You will also participate in a group poster presentation demonstrating your understanding of research underpinning patient care.

You’ll make use of our extensive simulation facilities4 – from basic life support manikins to high-tech simulation dummies, which emulate patient responses and test resuscitation skills.

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 also use actors to enhance these experiences in scenarios which include breaking bad news, demonstrating emotional resilience, conflict, aggression, teaching and child protection conferences.

Teaching contact hours

The number of full-time contact hours may vary from module to module, however, on average, it is likely to be around 20 contact hours per week. Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 20 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.

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.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2023/2024 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


The learning outcomes of modules, assignments and projects will be clearly stated. Your work will be marked according to how well you achieve these learning outcomes and your final feedback will refer to each outcome, as well as providing an overall percentage grade.

Assessment methods vary and include, practical class and project performance, written practical reports, project thesis, laboratory experiments, tutorial tasks and assessments, which take place at the end of each six-week block.

Course breakdown:

  • Coursework
  • Practical placement5
  • Formal examinations

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.

Entry requirements

Clearing places available on this course

See if you have enough points (UCAS tariff 2023)

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Additional requirements may apply

Haven't met the entry requirements or don’t have the right qualifications? You may still be able to progress onto a degree you’d love by studying a foundation course.

View our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page. 

Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.

Fees and funding

2023/24 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,250 per year Not available
EU £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
£19,850 per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £19,850 per year Not available

All eligible 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.

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.

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.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU support bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in-line with that of UK students. Students studying a Degree with a Foundation Year with us are not eligible for the bursary.

  • 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.


You’ll be able to make use of our simulation facilities4. 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.

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.

Realistic scenarios

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

Careers and opportunities

On successful completion of this course, our students will be able to:

  • Apply their knowledge, skills and understanding as an accountable, emotionally intelligent and resilient nurse, who is able to manage their own personal health and wellbeing. Conducting their nursing practice with insight and self-awareness of when and how to access support yet able to challenge systems which adversely affect staff and patients’ wellbeing.
  • Interpret, apply and contribute to nursing research activities as evidence informed practitioners within the context of health and social care.
  • Demonstrate collaborative capabilities as nurses that promote integrated learning and working, within public, private, and third sector organisations, for the health and well-being of people in our community.
  • Practise as an intercultural nurse at a national and international level and be able to appraise, through reflection, their own intercultural development in order to become a global graduate.
  • Promote service improvement and draw on leadership skills in order to collaborate in the design and delivery of complex care packages and services for people of all ages and from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs from a nursing perspective.
  • Consolidate knowledge and clinical skills to support and/or lead safe, compassionate and person-centred nursing care for people, across the lifespan, who have complex mental, physical, cognitive and behavioural care needs within a variety of care settings by meeting the field specific knowledge, skills and nursing understanding as identified by the statutory professional body.
  • Initiate the use of evolving technologies and harness innovation and change for the benefit of services and person-centred care delivery which promote patient safety and the quality of nursing care.

How to apply

  • 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 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.


    Due to COVID-19, some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) and some non-academic offerings (particularly in relation to international experiences), 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.

    6NHS payment

    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.

    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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