Nursing (Learning Disabilities) BN

Develop the skills to support the health of people with learning disabilities across their lifespan


Learning disability nurses aim to improve the health and quality of life of people with learning disabilities through evidence-based nursing care and support.

This degree course will develop your professional knowledge and understanding in the field of learning disabilities nursing and its application, giving you an academic qualification and the vocational training to become a registered nurse.

Taught by experts in a friendly and supportive environment, you'll put theory into practice in our state-of-the art Simulation and Clinical Skills Centre and participate in work placements within Lothian and Borders and across the East of Scotland in a variety of health and social care settings, with both children and adults. Work placements make up 50% of the course content.

Over the three years you will develop your skills, knowledge and confidence and complete the degree programme with a registered nurse qualification. Learning disability nurses are the only professionals educated specifically to work across the lifespan with people with learning disabilities. 

We have a 94% satisfaction rate for our Nursing (Learning Disabilities) course (National Student Survey, 2022).

Jodie on a community placement with young child.

Mode of Study:



3 years

Start date:


UCAS code:




Course details

Consisting of equal parts of theory and practical elements, Nursing (Learning Disabilities) is delivered full-time over three years.

Classes range in size from large lectures to smaller tutorial groups, and you'll learn and practice your skills in a safe environment through our excellent Simulation and Clinical Skills Centre.

With the changing political and social landscape and the emphasis on health and social care integration, this course will prepare you for the future of healthcare delivery by offering a variety of practice learning opportunities within NHS Assessment and Treatment Units, Community Learning Disabilities Teams and private sector provision with voluntary sector provision.

This will help you develop a values and rights-based approach to nursing, which is the foundation for the delivery of person-centred, safe and effective care.

We aim to help you become competent, knowledgeable and skilled in nursing care, particularly in the area of profound learning and multiple disabilities, positive behavioural support and mental health.

What you'll study

This course is delivered full-time over three years with 50% theory and 50% practice time. Theory content includes: Foundations of Health & Wellbeing; Developing Professionalism; Essential Theory & Skills for Learning Disability Practice; Effective Interagency Working in Healthcare; Critical Perspectives of Learning Disability and Effective Leadership in Healthcare.

Additional mandatory costs

Year 3: Students are expected to pay for the registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, £120.

  • calendar

    How you’ll be taught

    Your learning experience will be supported by lectures, tutorials, online work, group work, skills simulation classes and work placements.

  • note and pen


    Academic writing, including care plans, completing presentations and reports and assessment in clinical placements.

  • briefcase

    Work placement

    Work placements make up 50% of the course content. These placements will be within a range of health and social care settings, including hospitals, schools and in the voluntary sector.

  • study abroad

    Study abroad

    Volunteering and mobility opportunities:

    • Long summer holiday in Year 2 to allow volunteering
    • Mobility placements outwith Lothian and Borders, or with international organisations in Year 3

Popular modules

Year 1

  • Caring for Self and Others
  • Assessing Community Health and Patient Wellness
  • Practice Learning Experience 1 and 2 

Year 2

  • Assessing Need and Delivering Care in Learning Disability Nursing
  • Recognising and Responding to Altered Health in Learning Disability Nursing
  • Practice Learning Experience 3 and 4 

Year 3

  • Managing Complex Care in Learning Disability Nursing
  • Leading in Health and Social Care Teams
  • Practice Learning Experience 5 and 6



Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Nursing (Learning Difficulties)?

Our entry requirements indicate both Standard and Minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

Admission to the programme is also dependent upon a satisfactory Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) check. This will be conducted as part of the induction week. The cost of the PVG check will be paid by the University. 

Selection Test 

Part of the selection process for entry to the programme of your choice will include a computer based Confident Caring Assessment (CCA) where you will be given a short video and related scenario with questions. This is an assessment of the attributes expected of a nurse/ midwife, not your clinical knowledge and skills. It is designed to assess the qualities needed to work as a nurse/ midwife and the proficiencies outlined in the:  

Nurses Standards of proficiency  

The Code and watch these short videos

It presents a series of work-related situations, and you will be questioned about how you would respond. All applicants are required to sit the CCA. 

If you require adjustment for a learning support need, please get in touch by emailing before your selection event.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the undergraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.



Minimum Year 1

SQA Higher

Standard Offer Entry Requirement: BBC preferably to include English or a Literary subject* and a Science subject**. National 5 grade C in Maths OR Applications of Maths. For those who do not have Higher English and a Higher Science subject, National 5 English and a Science at grade C will be required.

Minimum Offer Entry Requirement: BCC preferably to include English or a Literary subject* and a Science subject**. National 5 grade C in Maths OR Applications of Maths. For those who do not have Higher English and a Higher Science subject, National 5 English and a Science at grade C will be required.

You may be given an adjusted offer of entry if you meet our specified minimum entry requirements within our widening participation criteria and outlined in our Contextual Admissions Policy. Click here for further information about our entry requirements and admissions policies.

A Level

  • BC preferably to include English or a Literary subject* and a Science subject**
  • GCSE grade C/4 in Maths
  • GCSE grade C/4 in English and a Science (or Double Award Science) required for candidates who do not have these subjects at A Level.

BTEC (QCF) National Extended Diploma Level 3

  • Minimum grades MMP (Merit, Merit, Pass) in any subject*
  • GCSE English, Maths and a Science at grade C/4
  • *Recommended subjects: Health and Social Care, Applied Science, Sports Science, Health Science

BTEC (QCF) National Diploma

  • Minimum grades DM (Distinction, Merit) in any subject*
  • GCSE English, Maths and a Science at grade C/4
  • *Recommended subjects: Health and Social Care, Applied Science, Sports Science, Health Science

Irish Leaving Certificate (first awarded in 2017)

  • H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level preferably to include English or Literary subject* and a Science subject**
  • For those who do not have English, Maths and a Science subject at Higher level, grade O3 at Ordinary Level will be required.


  • Pass in any subject with grade C in the graded unit for Year 1 entry. For the subjects below, the National 5 requirements differ. For all other HNC's, National 5 grade C in Maths, English and a Science is also required.
  • Care and Administrative Practice/Healthcare Practice (No additional National 5 grades required)
  • Social Care, Social Services, Social Sciences, Childhood Practice, Early Education and Childcare (National 5 grade C in Maths and a Science also required)
  • Applied Science (National 5 grade C in English and Maths also required)

QQI Level 5 Pre-Nursing Studies

  • Minimum of 6 Distinctions must be achieved overall. Distinctions must also be achieved in the Communication Unit and the Anatomy and Physiology Unit.
  • O3 in Ordinary Level Maths in the Irish Leaving Certificate or Maths passed as part of QQI Level 5 also required.

T level

  • Pass in any subject with grade C or above in the Core component.
  • GCSE English, Maths and a Science subject also required at grade C/4.

Access Courses

Please note the following points about local Access to Nursing courses offered by Further Education Colleges for those interested in Nursing and Midwifery courses at Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University has Partnership Agreements with 4 local Further Education Colleges – Borders, Edinburgh, Fife and West Lothian Colleges for entry to Adult, Learning Disability, Child and Mental Health Nursing.

Well over 100 students study each year on appropriate preparation to nursing and midwifery courses at our Partner Colleges.

All students attending Access to Nursing courses are required to pass the internally assessed graded units with overall profile grades BBC for entry onto the Adult, Learning Disability, Child and Mental Health Nursing programmes. 

Students from the Rest of the UK

Pass Access to Higher Education Diploma with 45 credits overall with a minimum of 18 credits at Pass and 27 credits at Merit.

English, Maths and a Science subject must be achieved at Level 2/3 as part of the diploma. 

Previous Nursing Students

Please note that students who have already studied a Nursing degree are unlikely to receive funding for a second Nursing degree.

Mature students

Adequate and appropriate previous (and recent) study is essential. Please contact if you are unsure whether or not you would be eligible to apply. Relevant work experience will be considered alongside recent study. It may be necessary for those with limited qualifications to undertake an Access course or other appropriate courses/studies in a Further Education setting.

Subjects required

*Literary subjects include: English/English Literature, History, Modern Studies, Religious Moral & Philosophical Studies/Christian Theology, Psychology, Geography, Sociology, Health and Social Care, Law

**Science Subjects include: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, PE (only accepted as a Science subject if studied at Higher level)

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test. The English Language requirements for this programme are IELTS 7.0 (with no less than 7.0 in each component, excluding Writing which requires 6.5). Alternatively, Occupational English Test with grade B in all components.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2024/25 2025/26
Scotland £1,820 £tba
England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £9,250 £tba
Overseas and EU £16,680 £tba
Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland will be invoiced the tuition fees for 3 years of their 4 years of study. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
If additional compulsory costs other than the tuition fees are applicable, these will be detailed in the course details.

*Students should apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for funding.
Further guidance can be found here


Nursing students grouped around a 'patient' mannequin

What can you do with a Nursing Learning Disabilities Degree?

By studying Learning Disabilities nursing at Edinburgh Napier, you will have gained the practical and theoretical training allowing you to have developed expert health assessment and communication skills, which will enable you to improve the quality of life of patients with learning disabilities through the application of your knowledge and skills. You will be able to work across a range of clinical settings on completion of your degree – including within hospitals, specialist assessment and treatment units, respite and residential services, schools and within people’s homes having key skills to be able to work in a team setting and autonomously. You will have the opportunity to work within the NHS, local authorities and private and third sector. As well as this, you will develop effective decision-making skills for working in a fast-paced environment. If you are compassionate and caring by nature and want to improve the quality of life of those with learning disabilities, then this could be the right course for you.

What does a Learning Disabilities nurse do?

As a specialised registered nurse in learning disabilities, you will be a primary health care practitioner and be able to work in health, social care, and voluntary settings. In your role, you will be responsible for providing medical and emotional support to those within your care as well as ensuring that families and carers have the support they require.


Tasks you may carry out within this role include:


  • Improving the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities

  • Work in collaboration with people with learning disabilities and those who are important to them to improve their health outcomes 

  • Planning, implementing and evaluating care and treatment plans

  • Teach appropriate daily skills that may be required to enable people with learning disabilities to achieve the highest possible quality of life

  • Work with different multi-disciplinary teams, including education and social work to meet people with learning disabilities holistic health and social care needs


Male nursing student smiling for the camera
You might also be interested in...