Learning Disability Nursing Practice BSc (Hons)

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Learn how to deliver caring, compassionate and restorative interventions to those with a learning disability. Use state of the art simulation suites to gain insight into the real-world of health care. Graduate ready to deliver effective and sincere person-centred care.

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The BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing will lead to registration as a qualified nurse in the care of those with learning disabilities in which there is a dearth of experienced and effective practitioners.

You will graduate ready to actively participate and engage with a cutting-edge workforce delivering caring, compassionate and restorative interventions to those with a learning disability. As a critical thinker, you will deliver effective and sincere person-centred care based upon a contemporary evidence-base, which will be administered and applied within a spectrum of clinical skills to include physical health monitoring and promotion, and positive mental wellbeing.

You will be competent and confident in working with and supporting a ‘whole-systems’ approach in diverse settings, ensuring the mental well-being of families and carers with a relative who has a learning disability.

Upcoming start dates
27 April 2020
14 September 2020

Why us?

  • Our Nursing courses are in the top five in the UK according to The Guardian University league tables 2018
  • Opportunities to collaborate in an interprofessional learning capacity with other healthcare courses including pharmacy, paramedic science, medicine, biomedical science, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
  • The course has been developed in collaboration with two local NHS health care providers, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust (CNTW) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Foundation Trust (TEWV), who have directly informed the content of the curriculum

Course structure

We use various methods of teaching including:

  • Problem-based learning
  • Seminar groups and interactive workshop sessions 
  • Inter-professional experiential learning
  • Consolidation sessions
  • The role of simulation in the development of competence 
  • Webcasts
  • Clinical skills sessions
  • Patient and professional contact
  • Inter-professional learning
  • Self-directed study
  • The University of Sunderland Virtual Learning Environment
  • The Nurse Navigator System

Assessment methods include written reports, essays, examinations, oral presentations, portfolios, clinical reflection diary, competency log, patient care plan and case studies.

Year 1 (national level 4):

Foundations of Learning Disability Nursing Care and Practice

  • Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice (10 credits)
  • Understanding the Bio-psychosocial Principles of Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • Foundations of Learning Disability Nursing (30 credits)
  • Developing Professionalism in Nursing (20 credits)
  • Foundations of Learning Disability Nursing: Professional Practice (40 credits)

Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

Developing Competence and Building Professionalism

  • Practice-Based Evidence and Evidence-Based Practice (30 credits)
  • Holistic Learning Disability Nursing Practice (30 credits)
  • Holistic Learning Disability Nursing Practice: Practice Placement (60 credits)

Year 3 (national level 6):

Inter-professional Integration

  • Inter-professional Working and Leadership (30 credits)
  • Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Learning Disability Nursing Management and Leadership: Practice Placement (50 credits)

More about BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing Practice at Sunderland

Discover more articles
  • The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books in total, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources. As a student, you will have access to a huge range of online databases such as:

    British National Formulary:
    Compiled with the advice of clinical experts, the British National Formulary (BNF) provides up-to-date guidance on prescribing, dispensing and administering medicines.

    The British Pharmacopoeia:
    The British Pharmacopoeia (BP) is the authoritative collection of quality standards for UK medicines and is an essential reference for anyone involved in pharmaceutical R&D, manufacture, testing and regulation.

    CINAHL with Full Text is the world’s most comprehensive source of full text for nursing & allied health journals, providing full text for more than 600 journals indexed in CINAHL.

    The Cochrane Library:
    The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.

    PubMed Central:
    PubMed Central is a service of the US National Library of Medicine that includes over 25 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles and includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

    ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters covering physical sciences, life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

    Library Services - pharmacy, health and wellbeing
  • This course is based in the Sciences Complex in our City Campus, which has benefited from a multimillion pound investment over the last 5 years. Teaching takes place in multi-media classrooms with state-of-the-art resources for learning.

    The Living Lab boasts the region’s only immersive simulation room allowing participants to experience events in simulated environments. An adjacent task trainer room which can be used flexibly can aid with the development of clinical and non-technical skills. Integral cameras enable participants to view live or recorded footage in our dedicated debrief room. The Lab also has a 7 bedded ward and Point of Care Testing (POCT) facility along with an OSCE suite and seminar rooms.

    The facility currently has 2 SimMan 3Gs, a SimNewB, a SimMom birthing simulator and 2 TraumaFX simbodies. A range of other clinical equipment and part task trainers as well as a pop-up ambulance are available to complement the facilities.

    IT facilities at the University are excellent with hundreds of workstations available as well as wireless internet access. If you have any computer problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    Sciences Complex - Living Lab
  • Map and directions


The University of Sunderland offers modern and well-equipped facilities at our Sciences Complex.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent, which must include a Health or Science related subject. Please note we do not accept General Studies AS or A Level.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

We also require at least five passes at GCSE grade C or above which must include Mathematics and English Language or equivalent. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

Please note we are unable to accept applications from outside of the EU. You can find other acceptable qualifications in our Applying help and advice articles.

Your completed application form will be reviewed by our Admissions Team to ensure that you have the required entry qualifications. If you meet these requirements, then your application will be individually assessed by the Adult Nursing Practice Admissions Tutor and if successful you will be shortlisted for interview.

The selection process will include an individual interview and two group activities which will assess you on your values, problem solving and communication skills. 

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL): This is available to applicants who meet the course-specific APL requirements. It may apply to applicants who wish to transfer their NMC approved nursing studies from another university where they have achieved 120 credits at Level 4. 

Access: We would be looking for a combination of merit and distinctions in your level 3 units which should preferably include some units in a Health or a Science related subject. We also require a minimum of grade C in maths and English language or equivalent. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

Fitness to Practise: Nursing is a registered health care profession for which the ability to practise safely and effectively and professionally is essential, so all nursing applicants will be subjected to Fitness to Practise procedures.

This means you are required to complete two self-declaration forms, one about your health and the other about your conduct. For UK students you will also be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. If you are successful, you will also need to complete these self-declaration forms on an annual basis for the duration of the course.

A Fitness to Practise information pack containing the relevant documents will be sent to you by the University of Sunderland once you hold a conditional firm offer with us. These forms are then reviewed alongside your application, and you must meet both the academic and fitness to practise requirements before you will be given an unconditional offer.

These checks enable us to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain activities including the nursing practice placements. The University will take into account current NMC regulations and do all it can to accommodate the needs of undergraduate adult nursing candidates who declare a specific learning difficulty.

In addition, you will also be required to attend a full occupational health screening.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Please use one of the following UCAS codes when applying:

For April 2020 entry:

  • Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust B7S2
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust B7S4

For September 2020 entry:

Please apply via UCAS using the UCAS code B7S6. At interview, you will be asked to rank your preferred Trust, which will then be confirmed once you start the course.

Fees and finance

The full-time, annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU

Please note we are not presently accepting international applicants for this course.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

If you currently serve (or have recently served) within the Armed Forces, then the Ministry of Defence's ELCAS scheme may be able to help cover your funding for this course. For more information, see our Funding for Armed Forces personnel page.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Practice


Successful completion of the course will lead to registration with the NMC as a qualified learning disability nurse, enabling you to apply for graduate learning disability nursing posts available within the NHS, voluntary and private sector services in the UK.

Career options

Learning Disability Nursing is a specialised and rewarding career, supporting individuals, their families and carers in meeting their health and wellbeing needs. Learning disabilities can affect an individual across the whole of their life course, from paediatrics to elderly care. Learning disability nurses will enjoy an enriched and challenging career working with multi-professional groups in areas where the client is in need such as clients homes, schools, community-based teams, specialist hospital care, liaison teams, crisis and intervention teams, forensic services including prisons and specialist Autism services in the community and in a hospital setting.

Learning Disability Nurses are also key to facilitating the care and treatment of people with a learning disability across the health and social care sector. Upon qualifying, learning disability nurses will commence on an NHS band 5 (£22,128) and will have the opportunity for career progression to more advanced roles such as an Approved Clinician which can attract salaries up to NHS band 8 (£47,092 - £56,665).


The NMC requires that all graduate nursing courses consist of a balance of 50:50 of theoretical university-based learning and clinical placements, which will be within the partnering NHS organisations associated with this course. At all levels of the course, you will undertake unpaid clinical placements in hospitals and the community. The placements occur in blocks of varying duration, there are two blocks in year 1 and three blocks in years 2 and 3. You will undertake your placements at one of our partner trusts: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Foundation Trusts. During your placements, you will be assigned a Clinical Mentor who will directly supervise you as well as acting as a means of support and guidance. As you may be expected to travel long distances, start your shift in the early hours, or finish your shift late at night, you could be entitled to Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses (TDAE) which allows you to make a retrospective claim for excess travel costs and/or expenses for temporary accommodation near to the location of your placement. Find out more from the Learning Support Fund (LSF).

Meet the students

  • Studying at the University of Sunderland challenges you to find your hidden potential
    Carol Reed Square

    Carol Reed

Meet the team

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