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Combining academic and practice-based learning to develop person-centred cultures for individual and team professional practice


This programme helps practitioners to develop person-centred cultures, using a professional practice-based learning model that embraces practitioner inquiry and practitioner research. Developing their knowledge and skills students will be enabled to develop their understanding of person-centredness and become practitioners who are sensitive to the needs of their team and people who use healthcare services. The programme values knowledge gained through critical reflection on practice experience used in conjunction with the range of knowledge sources. The delivery of person-centred practice (McCormack and McCance 2017) requires practitioners to know and understand self in the context of their practice. Consequently, the focus is on the practitioner learning from practice, understanding the theory underpinning their professional practice-based learning and applying this learning to practice.

The programme combines formal and practice based learning. Outcomes from the DPHC programme link closely with personal and professional practice based objectives, identified through staff appraisal. This provides the opportunity for practitioners to simultaneously achieve personal growth, reward and achievement while contributing to organisational and practice development.

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About this course

In this section


Although some elements of the programme are taught or delivered online, most of the learning is achieved in and from practice, where the practitioner works with a practice based facilitator (who is a recognised teacher with the Ulster University) and completes a portfolio of their learning. Linking learning to individual appraisal enables the practitioner to select the most appropriate modules to match their needs and to meet the requirements of the award.

The facilitator role is pivotal to providing the contact or 'teaching time' for practitioners to learn. This time equates to 6 hours in total/practitioner/module. Additional support is offered to students through taught sessions in the University and through Blackboard Learn.


The programme combines formal and practice based learning and is offered on a part time basis only.

Taught elements require students to attend the University campus in Jordanstown.

Online modules require students to engage partly or fully with the online learning environment.

Most learning is achieved in and from practice practitioner’s area of practice. Working with a facilitator the student completes a portfolio of their learning. Practice based facilitators provide the contact or 'teaching time' for practitioners to learn. This time equates to 6 hours in total/practitioner/module. Additional support is offered to students through taught sessions in the University and through Blackboard Learn.

Students are expected to attend all classes associated with the taught elements of the programme, honour times agreed to meet facilitators and be punctual and regular in their attendance.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Learning and Teaching Methods:

A range of learning and teaching methods are used to enable students to develop knowledge and understanding related to these learning outcomes and to provide the foundation for other learning. There is a continuous focus upon how theory is linked to and is informed by practice. Methods used include: facilitation in practice, critical reflection, portfolio development, workshops, lectures, seminars/discussions, e-learning, guided reading, teacher and peer observation, presentation, creative methods and debate. Multi-media and other material may be used to support this.

Assessment Methods:

Self, peer and teacher/facilitator assessment will be used throughout the course to assess the achievement of learning outcomes and will require students to demonstrate the blending of theory with practice through participation, critical reflection and by production of coursework, an assignment or portfolio of evidence. A combination of formative and summative assessment will be employed to demonstrate student learning. Students will be expected to note where the feedback gained from formative assessment influenced their summative submissions to demonstrate development and achievement of learning outcomes.

Students are also required to complete a Post Feedback Action Plan reflecting on the feedback received from summative coursework, what can be improved on and how they plan to achieve this. The identified areas for action are: specific focus of feedback, outcome measure for achievement, resources required to achieve identified action, realism of identified actions and when it should be completed. They may then use this for future development in consultation with the practice-based facilitator.

Academic profile

Person-centred practice and practice development are underpinned by a robust and dynamic research base. Members of the academic teaching team have been instrumental in initiating and advancing research in this field. They are associates of the International Practice Development Collaborative and the Person-Centred Practice International Community of Practice forums that are committed to researching and working together to develop person-centred cultures.

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

Enhancing Person-centredness Through Practice Development

Year: 1

This level 7 module focuses on person-centred practice as a form of practice that holds central the personhood of everyone involved in health and social care - staff, people who use healthcare services and care partners. This module focuses on how person-centred concepts and theories are applied in the variety of health and social care contexts through the use of Practice Development and reflective practice. The module will be underpinned by the Person-centred Nursing Framework of McCormack & McCance (2010), the Practice Development Framework and models of reflective practice.

Applying Evidence Informed Practice

Year: 1

This module is optional

This Level 7 module enables health and social care professionals to demonstrate learning within their sphere of practice. It uses practice-based learning opportunities to explore ways in which evidence can inform and enhance practice. This is achieved through the progression of critical reflection and two practice-based outcomes.

Year two

Innovation in Developing Practice

Year: 2

This module is optional

This Level 7 module enables health and social care professionals to expand their career roles/goals, through exploration of the concepts of academic enterprise through innovation and change. It includes learning skills needed to obtain maximum benefit from critical reflection of practice-based practice, with a view to introducing new ways of working. This is achieved through the progression of two practice-based outcomes.

Year three

Facilitation and Leadership in Developing Practice

Year: 3

This module is optional

This level 7 module enables students to demonstrate through practice-based learning, the development if facilitation and leadership skills and knowledge. This is undertaken through the progression of two practice-based outcomes.

Enhancing Expertise in Practice

Year: 3

This module is optional

This Level 7 module enables health and social care professionals to critically engage with opportunities for developing their practice expertise, within their sphere of practice, noting the co-dependency between levels of action and reflection. It includes learning skills needed to obtain maximum benefit from critical reflection of practice-based practice, with a view to enhancing expertise in practice. This is achieved through the progression of two practice-based outcomes.

Year four

Advanced Methods in Research and Development in Health and Social Care

Year: 4

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.

Year five

MSc research project

Year: 5

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:

(a) have gained

(i) an Honours or non-Honours degree from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard;


(ii) an equivalent standard in a Postgraduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or an approved alternative qualification;

(b) have successfully completed an undergraduate research module (or equivalent learning);


(c) Applicants should normally satisfy the following:

Hold an appropriate professional qualification (i.e):

A degree in Nursing, Health or Social Care, or equivalent standard in a PG Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or approved alternative qualification OR Exceptionally, provide evidence of achievement of graduate qualities through APL (see Regulations for detail).

Be employed within health and social care organisations with whom a Memorandum of Understanding has been reached.

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 course 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 Cert] award
(b) no exemption shall be permitted from the research project.

Accreditation of prior learning will be assessed on an individual basis

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Students within the programme come to us with an existing employment background within health and social care. On completion of this programme we expect students to continue their employment in health and social care organisations with an enhanced range of transferable knowledge and skills to benefit their communities, individual patients/families and their carers and employer. We also expect graduates to achieve a higher professional and personal profile within their organisation, enhancing their prospects of promotion. Additionally, we expect a number of postgraduate students to progress to undertaking research studies within the Institute of Nursing and Health Research at the Ulster University and other institutions.

Work placement / study abroad

Students will be already employed in Health and Social Care Organisations (either NHS or independent sector).


How to apply Request a prospectus

You may apply for this programme through self funding or commissioning

Those who are not eligible for DoH Commissioned places, must apply via the University online application system. (known as the self-funded route) and should contact the Course Director for more information.

Students wishing to apply for a Department of Health (DoH) Commissioned place will need to discuss availability and their application with their line manager in their Health and Social Care Trust. The HSCT will manage your application.

Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Students have the opportunity to compete for the Institute of Nursing and Health Research Mona Grey Post-Registration Nursing Research Award.

This award, sponsored by the Institute of Nursing and Health Research in the School of Nursing, recognises excellence in nursing research in postgraduate students. Postgraduate Nursing students [Registered Nurses] from the School of Nursing who have achieved a minimum of 65% will be invited to apply for this award.

Additional mandatory costs

Students will be required to purchase their own stationery items.

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: Dr Donna Brown

T: +44 (0)28 9036 8512


For more information visit

Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

School of Nursing


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
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'I have been a nurse for almost 30 years. This course has been the most enjoyable, challenging and relevant one I have done since my initial training. It has encouraged me to bridge the theory-practice gap and critically examine myself and my practice. I feel the availability of the lecturers/facilitators has been invaluable and have highly recommended this course to all in my workplace'.


'The facilitation and leadership module was brilliant in comparison to other previous courses undertaken. Other courses did not put emphasis on me as an adult learner. It’s my responsibility. Self serving and motivating'.


'The fact you can write about what you are doing in your day to day work is a huge advantage'.