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Applied Health Studies - PgCert/PgDip/MSc

Providing flexible and engaging distance learning opportunities to students keen to succeed in today's challenging health and social care environment.

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Providing flexible and engaging distance learning opportunities to students keen to succeed in today's challenging health and social care environment.


This flexible, inclusive, engaging distance learning postgraduate level programme responds to the desire of current graduates working within the area of health and social care as they seek to develop their practice and in order to better equip them to meet the demands of advanced practice roles and responsibilities. Changing health and social care requirements demand highly knowledgeable and skilled graduates from the health and social care professions. The programme particularly extends the knowledge base necessary for practitioners to function at an advanced level, to develop into expert or advanced practitioners, advisers, managers or educators within their particular area of expertise offering sound judgement, personal responsibility and initiative, in complex and unpredictable professional environments. There is emphasis upon the application of knowledge to practice, thus enhancing the leadership capacity.

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About this course

In this section


This programme leads to the academic awards of PGCert/PGDip/MSc in Applied Health Studies.

The Postgraduate Certificate is awarded after completing 60 credits at level 7 and for this students have the option to study a suite of 3 twenty-credit ‘generic’ modules (Advanced Communication and Education Approaches in Health and Social Care Practice, Decision Making and Accountability in Health and Social Care, Enhancing Patient Safety in Healthcare) or 2, thirty-credit clinical modules in neuroscience or 3 twenty credit modules in urology, continence care, or stoma care (all at level 7).

The Postgraduate Diploma can be completed over a minimum of one year part-time (dependent on module availability) and requires the completion of 2 thirty-credit compulsory modules at level 7, Advanced Methods in Research and Development in health and Social Care and Global Perspectives in Transforming Health.

The MSc involves the completion of a 60 credit level 7 evidence based project.

91% of staff in the School hold a recognised teaching qualification and

76% of staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and 5 staff are Senior Fellows. Six hold Fellowships of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Practice (CHERP). One member of staff has received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award Fellowship while another 2 have received the University’s Distinguished Research Fellow and Distinguished Research Fellowship Award. The School has a track record of academic promotions up to, and including, professorial level for Learning and Teaching related activities

Results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework show that 96% of Nursing and Health Science research was judged to be of international excellence or world leading.The Institute of Nursing & Health Research takes the lead in delivering research and evidence based practice education to ensure that students are exposed to research active staff and are given the opportunity to reflect upon the impact research and evidence have on practice.

The School has an active Educational and Professional Issues Research Group which links with CHERP and several members of the Subject Team have been awarded CHEP (Ulster) Development Funding, Teaching Development Grants from the Higher Education Academy which has supported innovations in the areas of small group teaching and online assessment.

In additon, a number of the Subject team are both current and previous presidents of their specialty's relevant European associations, EANN and EAUN.


This is a fully online part-time programme, students are expected to engage regularly with the programme and online activity and interaction will be monitored and recorded.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply

Teaching, Learning and Assessment


The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor

- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement

- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.

Attendance and Independent Study

As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

Calculation of the Final Award

The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

This programme is designed to be particularly cognisant of the needs of the online learner. There are a wide range of support materials, services, pedagogy and personal assistance of teaching staff will be placed at their disposal. Students from varying backgrounds will be facilitated to develop the skills necessary to be a successful learner in the online environment and in collaboration with their student colleagues they will be assisted to become a supportive and empowered, multidisciplinary community of learners.

Throughout the programmes there is an emphasis on the use of critical reflection in combination with a critical approach to the evidence base around healthcare. There is an increasing focus on the use of creative methods and creativity to tap into exciting ways to stimulate learning and insight. These methods in combination enable the course to realise the twin goals of achieving deep learning through promoting active learning. This diverse learning experience offered encourages students to become active and motivated learners, who can seek information, question and analyse its validity and draw appropriate and logical conclusions.

Learning, teaching and assessment in the School and in this course is based on the concept that knowledge and information gained in the theoretical modules needs to be contextualised within a framework that clarifies its origins and development leading to current practice. This also takes into account the fact that theoretical knowledge needs to be grounded in the ‘real world’ of healthcare and is critiqued from the context of its applicability to or impact upon practice. Concurrently, it is recognised that students themselves are people who bring a rich source of knowledge that enables reflection and thus facilitates the co-creation of learning.

Throughout courses and modules students are encouraged to make connections between theoretical content and practice experiences thus facilitating an ability to suggest possible developments or enhancements in practice that in turn would lead to knowledge generation opportunities. The strategies used are based on Knowles’ (2007) andragogical principles of adult learning such as self-direction and a capacity to draw upon experience. This creates the ideal environment to help students understand the symbiotic link between theory and practice. Underpinning all of this however is the concept of patient safety. This is a key issue for the School and students are reminded that patient safety and maintaining confidentiality are of paramount importance.

Teaching methods on the course include online lectures that provide students with the necessary knowledge base to develop their insight into practice and thus inform skill development, tutorial sessions which enable small group work to be carried out along with online debate and discussion.

Students with special needs will receive a personal assessment of additional support required in line with the recommendations as outlined in The Special Education Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2004 (SENDO) outlined here:

Assessment methods in the course are designed to measure the student’s achievement of the intended learning outcomes and have been informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching strategy and by the Assessment Handbook 2014. On-going formative assessment that has a significant diagnostic function occurs throughout where students are encouraged to discuss their progress and actively plan to address identified learning needs. Within modules feedback from self, peers and tutors helps maintain development of student competence. Assessment for learning facilitated by increasing the amount of formative assessment and feedback is seen as key to developing insight in this course and students are encouraged and helped to develop self and peer assessment skills.

Assessment types range from assignment writing, reflective diary or portfolio compilation, group presentations and online tests or workbook completion.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

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The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Key Principles in Urological Cancer

Year: 1

This module is optional

This level 7 module provides a theoretical basis for a foundational understanding of essential concepts in caring for and promoting well-being in people who have urological cancer. It provides a crucial basis upon which further study in urology can be built. The module is offered on-line and is assessed by coursework and examination.

Fundamental Principles in Stoma Care

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module helps students to develop an in-depth and critical understanding of the basic sciences and disease processes that can lead to stoma formation. Students will be assisted to analyze the care challenges that can be experienced by people who have a stoma and identify how they can play a leading role in assisting the person living with a stoma to improve their well-being and life quality

Challenges in Advanced Practice in Stoma care

Year: 1

This module is optional

In this module the student will be able critically discuss and analyze common stoma care issues encountered in neonates and children as well in addition to'out of the ordinary' issues in stoma care and outline appropriate responses to such events. The module will explore key issues associated with multi-professional care, professional development and the future-proofing of service and will assist the student to critique ethical challenges involved in advocacy and working with healthcare industry agencies.

Issues in Progressing Practice in Stoma Care

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module helps students to deepen and critically analyse existing knowledge on current issues in quality stoma care through the exploration of person-centered care responses to promote coping and positive living. The module explores pre-operative, immediate and long term needs of people living with a stoma and addresses wider issues through the examining of the potential impact of culture and religion on living with a stoma and the challenges they offer in of providing appropriate care.

Advancing Care for People with Urological Disorders

Year: 1

This module is optional

This level 7 module helps to prepare care professionals to deliver high quality care for patients with urological disorders by equipping them with essential knowledge and attitudes that promote skilled, knowledgeable and holistic intervention. Ultimately the module seeks to assist the professional to acquire a high level of knowledge and personal reflection to facilitate the future development of evidence based urological care. Assessment is by coursework.

Essential Principles in Adult Continence Promotion

Year: 1

This module is optional

This Level 7 module provides a theoretical basis for the understanding of the issues essential for the provision of evidence based, individualised care for people who experience incontinence. Normal anatomy and physiology are explored as the basis for a thorough understanding of the genesis of continence problems and their resolution. The module will be offered on-line, with the assessment being 100% coursework.

Essential Principles in Urology and Continence

Year: 1

This module is optional

Feedback on Coursework will be structured using the School of Nursing Feedback, Taxonomy and Reflection forms. Students will be provided with feedback within 15 working days of submission. All relevant dates for submission and feedback documentation will be provided in the Module Handbook. The assessment and feedback documentation used within the School of Nursing also contains a Reflective Exercise that students will be encouraged to undertake once they have received summative feedback of their assignments.

Advancing Care for People with Continence Disorders

Year: 1

This module is optional

This Level 7 module provides a theoretical basis for the delivery of evidence-based, continence care. The treatment modalities for both urinary and faecal incontinence are explored. The role of the 'Skills for Health' competencies to provide a mechanism to promote a standard of care delivery nationally is explored. The module will be offered on-line, with the assessment being 100% coursework.

Underpinnings of Neuroscience Care

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module prepares graduate students to meet the complex and specific needs of people with acute and continuing neurological disorders through developing their knowledge of disordered physiological. Students are enabled to critically evaluate their practice in light of new knowledge and perspectives necessary to deliver dynamic, informed care. Students will also develop further their insights into the lived experience of having a neurological disorder. A variety of learning and teaching approaches are used to deliver this module to actively engage students. Assessment is 100% coursework.

Advanced Communication and Education approaches in Health and Social Care Practice

Year: 1

This module is optional

This level 7 module provides advanced and conceptual frameworks for study of communication and education. Further, it enables the student to critically appraise and to critically develop their own professional practice in two related areas of professional competence: advanced communication and education, through a process of advanced reflective practice. It aims to enhance the integration and critical application of an advanced repertoire of knowledge and skills, informed by an appropriate evidence base, related to these core areas, which are central to the success of continuing professional competence in professional health and social care practice. Assessment is by 100% coursework.

Enhancing Neuroscience Practice

Year: 1

This module is optional

Students undertaking this module will engage with a critical reflective process to evaluate their practice alongside developing new knowledge on the continuing care needs and experiences of people with neurological disorders. This will be include enhancing their understanding of the ethical challenges related to decision-making in situations when autonomy is compromised. A range of learning and teaching methods will be used to facilitate the students' development of knowledge and skills in the practice of neuroscience care. Assessment is 100% coursework.

Decision making and accountability in health and social care

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module develops students' understanding of the major components and complexities of decision making and accountability in health and social care and the central role this plays in the design, delivery and evaluation of high quality safe, compassionate and resilient care for people within hospital and community settings based services. Within the module students will critically analysis the relationships between decision making, accountability, governance and patient safety within an interdisciplinary context. Assessment is by coursework.

Enhancing Patient Safety in Health Care

Year: 1

This module is optional

At every stage of the process in health and social care settings there are risks to the patient. These may be associated with professionals practice, products, the procedures or the systems in place. In order to reduce risks and improve patient safety world all health care professionals need a greater understanding of the need for a system wide effort as the key strategy to facilitate this.

Year two

Advanced Methods in Research and Development in Health and Social Care

Year: 2

This module builds upon previous study of research methods and enables students to develop and apply theoretical and scientific knowledge and problem solving skills, extending their understanding of the philosophical and practical aspects of research, service evaluation and practice development. In particular, it examines quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research designs for collecting, recording, analysing and interpreting data with the ultimate goal of further developing their research and development skills.

Global Perspectives in Transforming Health

Year: 2

The spectrum of health challenges currently facing the global care community seems to be growing exponentially with many of the determinants of individual, community and global health stagnating or reversing. Infectious diseases, global poverty, inactivity and obesity levels to mention only some, all show signs of rising and the current world recession has on occasion blunted governmental actions and investment directed towards positive health promotion. Such a situation presents challenges that healthcare professionals need to be aware of. Additionally, it requires them to acquire and develop the knowledge and skills to lead developments in practice they can play locally to help positively address healthcare provision globally.

The aim of this module is enable you to enhance your knowledge of the issues emerging in global healthcare that have a direct bearing on the way in which practice is governed. This is with a view to enabling you to lead developments in practice.

Year three

MSc research project

Year: 3

This is a required component of a programme leading to a MSc. The student completes, under supervision, a research proposal with successful submission to appropriate ethics committee/s and completes a research project which makes a contribution to the knowledge base for professional practice. This is assessed by coursework.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

Applicants must hold an Honours degree or degree from a UK or Republic of Ireland university or from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from another institution which has been recognised by the Senate for this purpose or equivalent or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL).


Hold an equivalent standard in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or Postgraduate Certificate or an approved alternative qualification;

In addition, applicants who wish to follow a clinical pathway must have access to a client base in order to satisfactorily apply theory to practice. (NOTE: Where a student does not have such access, he/she shall be required to undertake a placement in a work environment relevant to their chosen pathway).

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that

(a) they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level in respect of a Master’s award and at least 50% of the credit value of the award in respect of a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate award

[(b) no exemption shall be permitted from the dissertation

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Students on this programme are expected to be working or aspiring to work within the fields of healthcare and/or social care. On completion of this programme of study we expect students to continue in their employment with an enhanced range of transferable and subject specific skills to benefit their employer, communities, individual patients/clients and their families. We also expect graduates to achieve a higher personal profile within their organisation thus enhancing their prospects of promotion and/or career development. A number of students may progress to postgraduate and doctoral level studies and choose from a range of courses available in the School of Nursing and the wider University.

Work placement / study abroad

Work-based learning forms a key element in these programmes especially but not exclusively for the completion of the clinical modules and their assessment. Most, if not all, students undertaking the Applied Health Studies programmes at either undergraduate or postgraduate level will be working in some capacity within a health and social care environment. This will enable students to combine procedural knowledge with declarative knowledge in context in order to produce professional knowledge, impacting positively on employability and career progression.


How to apply

Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.

Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

Northern Ireland & EU:

£14,060.00  Scholarships available

Where the postgraduate course selected offers multiple awards (e.g. PG Cert, PG Dip, Master’s), please note that the price displayed is for the complete master’s programme. Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are charged at a pro-rata basis. Find out more

Additional mandatory costs

There may be an additional cost of a set of headphones to use during online lectures however this will be clarified by your module coordinator. These headphones are essential to cut down background noise when participating in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra which is an audio / visual virtual classroom, however they do not need to be an expensive item and simple headphones such as those provided with mobile phones can be used.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


Course Director: Ms Oonagh Carson
T: +44 (0)28 7167 5016

For more information visit

Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

School of Nursing


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