BN Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Undergraduate, Full-Time

Learning disability nurses aim to improve social inclusion and the general quality of life for people with learning disabilities through care and support.

  • Napier code:


  • UCAS code:


  • Course type:


  • Duration:

    3 years

  • Award:


  • Location:

    Sighthill campus

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Course introduction

Learning disabilities nursing at degree level has been designed to give you an academic qualification and the vocational training to become a registered nurse.

You’ll gain the team working, personal and decision making skills needed to demonstrate your eligibility for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council including:
  • professional values
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • nursing practice and decision making
  • leadership, management and team working abilities


You'll experience a variety of practice learning opportunities within NHS Assessment and Treatment Units, Community Learning Disabilities Teams and private sector provision.

This will help you develop a values and rights based approach to nursing, which is a key element and 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 behavioral support and mental health.

This course includes equal parts of theory and practice and is delivered full-time over three years. It may also be studied as a 16-24 month conversion course, or in exceptional circumstances over 12 months if you already work as a registered nurse in a learning disabilities area.

What you'll study

This course is delivered full-time over three years and you'll study a combination of theory and practice modules, depending on your chosen field of nursing practice, including:

  • Nursing and nursing science
  • Nursing practice
  • Professional development
  • Skills for practice; ethical, legal and professional Issues
  • Dimensions of learning disability
  • Profound learning and multiple disabilities
  • Working with children and families
  • Psychological therapies such as positive behavioral support
  • Mental health; research
  • Health improvement and tackling health inequalities
  • Leadership and professionalism

Work placement

Work placements make up 50 per cent of the course content.

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

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Employability is high following this course, and you will graduate ready to work in both in-patient and community learning disabilities health settings. You will also have transferable skills to work in both social care and the voluntary sector. You will be able to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

This qualification will give you excellent career prospects, in hospitals and the community; in voluntary organisations and the private sector. Our graduates have gone on to gain employment across Scotland and you will also be able to work anywhere within the UK.

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

BBC preferably to include English or a Literary subject* and a Science** 

National 5 Grade C in Maths

National 5 Grade C in English and Biology required for candidates who do not have these subjects at Higher.

A Level

CC preferably to include English or a Literary subject* and a Science**

GCSE Grade C/4 in Maths

GCSE Grade C/4 in English, Maths and Biology 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 a related subject.*

GCSE English, Maths and Biology (preferred), Chemistry or Physics at Grade C/4.

*Health and Social Care / Applied Sciences

BTEC (QCF) National Diploma 

Minimum grades DM (Distinction, Merit) in a related subject.*

GCSE English and Biology (preferred), Chemistry or Physics at Grade C/4.

Health and Social Care / Applied Sciences

Irish Leaving Certificate

Pre-2017 Grading System

B3, B3, B3 at Higher Level preferably to include English or Literary subject* and a Science**

B2 in two Ordinary Level subjects including Maths. 

New Grading System

H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level preferably to include English or Literary subject* and a Science**

O3 in two Ordinary Level subjects including Maths.


Pass in a related subject* with Grade C in the graded unit for Year 1 entry.

National 5 grade C in English, Maths and Science (Biology - preferred, Chemistry or Physics).

*Care and Administrative Practice, Social Care, Applied Science, Social Sciences, Early Education and Childcare

FETAC 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.

B2/O3 in Ordinary Level Maths in Irish Leaving Certificate.

Mature students

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

Interview requirements

There will be a selection interview and all candidates must meet NMC requirements of good health and good character. Competition for places varies from year-to-year and achievement of the typical minimum entry requirements does not always guarantee shortlisting for interview or a place on the course.

Admission to the Programme is dependent upon a satisfactory Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) Check. This will be sent to you prior to interview and will be conducted on the interview day.  The cost of the PVG check will be paid by the University.

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

Deferred Applications

Please note that we cannot accept applications for deferred entry for this course.

Previous Nursing Students

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

English language requirements

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).  For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact 

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.

Our entry requirements indicate the 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.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We're committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.

Tuition fees
Students from 2017/18 2018/19
Scotland/EU Fees are funded by the NHS Scotland* Fees are funded by the NHS Scotland*
England Wales and Northern Ireland £9,000** £9,250**

*Students should apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for funding.

**Following the decision of the UK Government to remove the health bursary in England and move to a loans based support package for nursing, midwifery and AHP students from academic year 2017/18, the Scottish Government has confirmed that students commencing study on Nursing and Midwifery undergraduate programmes in September 2017 will be able to apply for tuition fee and living cost support from their home funding body.

Nursing students will also be eligible to apply for the University’s own generous package of financial support for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Further guidance can be found here