BN Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Undergraduate, Full-time

Nursing (Learning Disabilities) BN

Voted Best Education Provider for the Undergraduate Nursing Programme of the Year at the SNTA National Awards 2017


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.

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.

If you have a degree already, you may also be eligible to study our Masters in Nursing (MN) programme designed for graduates, which enables you to achieve a post-graduate Masters qualification alongside your nursing registration.

Image of Jodie on a community placement with young child

Mode of Study:



3 years

UCAS code:




About you
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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.

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 Assessments

    Academic writing (including essays and reports), exams, 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

  • Foundations of Health and Well Being
  • Developing Professionalism
  • Nursing Practice 1 and 2

Year 2

  • Essential Theory and Skills for Learning Disability Practice
  • Effective Interagency Working in Healthcare
  • Nursing Practice 3 and 4

Year 3

  • Critical Perspectives of Learning Disability A and B
  • Effective Leadership in Healthcare
  • Nursing Practice 5 and 6


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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

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.

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

Standard Entry Requirements

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.

Minimum offer entry requirement

BCC including English and Biology or Human Biology.

National 5 Grade C in Maths.

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**

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

Related subjects: Health and Social Care/Applied Sciences/Sports Science/Health Science

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

Related subjects: Health and Social Care/Applied Sciences/Sports Science/Health Science

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.

*Care and Administrative Practice

*Social Care, Social Services, Childhood practice (National 5 grade C in Maths and Science (Biology - preferred, Chemistry or Physics).

*Applied Science (National 5 grade C in English)

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.

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, and Mental Health Nursing.

Well over 100 students study each year, on appropriate preparation to nursing and midwifery courses, at our Partner Colleges and those Further Education students have priority in the selection process.

All students attending our Access to Nursing course within our partnership colleges are required to pass the internally assessed graded units with BBC grades. Any students studying an Access to Nursing course at any other Scottish Further education College would be required to have a National 5 in Biology at grade C or above, in addition to passing the internally assessed to be considered for interview at Edinburgh Napier University for adult, learning disability or mental health nursing.

Child Health Nursing and Midwifery Courses

Students on Access to Nursing courses are not considered for either Child Health Nursing or Midwifery.

Students from the Rest of the UK

Applicants who are studying the QAA Access to Higher Education Diploma in a related subject will also be considered for entry to our Nursing courses.

Pass Access to HE Diploma with 45 credits overall with a minimum of 24 credits at Pass and 21 credits at Merit.

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.

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.

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.

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

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, 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.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by 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 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 2019/20 2020/21
Scotland/EU Fees are funded by the NHS Scotland* Fees are funded by the NHS Scotland*
England Wales and Northern Ireland £9,250** £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


Nursing students grouped around a 'patient'

Career opportunities

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.

Male nursing student