BN Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Undergraduate, Full-time

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information 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.

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto this programme.

Selection Day 

You will be invited to our Sighthill campus for a selection day. This will give you the opportunity to meet with the recruitment and teaching teams. You will also have the chance to explore some of the University teaching facilities, for example our state-of-the-art clinical skills simulation area.  

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 

Standards of proficiency for midwives 

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.

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

Standard Entry Requirement

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

National 5 grade C in Maths

For those who do not have Higher English or Higher Science, 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**

National 5 grade C in Maths

For those who do not have Higher English or Higher Science, 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**

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**

O3 in two Ordinary Level subjects including Maths


Pass in any subject* with grade C in the graded unit for Year 1 entry

*Care and Administrative Practice

*Social Care, Social Services, Social Sciences, Childhood Practice (National 5 grade C in Maths and a Science also required)

*Applied Science (National 5 grade C in English and Maths also required)

*Any other HNC's (National 5 grade C in Maths, English and a Science 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

B2/O3 in Ordinary Level Maths in Irish Leaving Certificate or Maths passed as part of QQI Level 5

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 (excluding Edinburgh College) are required to pass the internally assessed graded units with overall profile grades BBC. For Edinburgh College, internally assessed units are not graded and applicants would be required to pass all internally assessed units to be considered for interview at Edinburgh Napier University for Adult, Learning Disability, Child or Mental Health Nursing.

Midwifery Courses

Students on Access to Nursing courses are not considered for the Midwifery course.

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.

A Science and English subject must be achieved at Level 3 and Maths achieved at Level 2.

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 standard 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 conducted as part of the induction week. 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 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 Higher)

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 international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • 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 2022/23 2023/24
Scotland £1,820 tba
England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £9,250 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

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 smiling for the camera

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