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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • Belfast Health & Social Care Trust
  • Northern Health & Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Hospice
  • South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust - Ulster Hospital
  • Western Health and Social Care Trust
  • Southern Health and Social Care Trust

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Diabetes Specialist Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  • District Nurse
  • Learning Disability Nurse Specialist
  • Mental Health Nurse Specialist
  • Stroke Care Specialist


Important notice – campus change This course will move to the Belfast campus.  Students will change campus part way through this course. Find out more

The BSc (Hons) Specialist Nursing (with pathways) prepares Nurses for Leadership roles in Specialist Nursing.


The BSc Hons Specialist Nursing (with pathways) is aimed at preparing Nurses for Leadership roles in a field of Nursing of their choice. There are a range of Pathways to suit all Nurses including District Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing, and Community Children’s Nursing. The full range of Adult Nursing Specialisms are offered, including Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care, Stroke Care, Diabetes Care and Emergency Care.

The programme leads to more than one qualification. You will obtain a degree from Ulster University and a professional qualification from the United Kingdom Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Students of District Nursing obtain a further professional qualification in Nurse Prescribing.

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About this course

In this section


The term, ‘Specialist Nursing’ refers to, the exercising of higher levels of judgment and decision making in relation to the nursing care of individuals, families and communities. As a future Leader you must display this higher level of decision making across four areas; clinical practice, care and programme management, clinical practice development and clinical practice leadership. At Ulster we focus on developing you as a Leader and help you achieve academic and professional competence in all these areas.

This programme is a 50-50 programme, meaning that 50% of the programme is university-based and 50% based in the practice learning setting. In the Practice Learning setting you will be allocated to a Sign-Off Mentor. This Sign-Off Mentor who is an established Specialist Nurse and Leader in Clinical Care will supervise you throughout the Programme. He/she will assess you and sign off your competencies prior to recording the professional qualification with the NMC. You will also be allocated to a Pathway Leader who will supervise your academic development and provide support throughout.

The academic component of the programme consists of a four 30-credit modules.

  • Research Module 30 credits
  • Leadership Module 30 credits
  • + Two Specialist Focus Modules, depending on your selected pathway (60 credits)

District Nursing students have an additional 20 credits to complete in order to evidence outcomes related to Nurse Prescribing.

See Overall Course Structure:


Full-time studentsare expected to attend the University for at least 2 days per week, with the remaining time allocated to Practice Learning. Full-time students are normally time-tabled for Mondays and Fridays.

Part-time students attend the University for 1 day per week during Term-Time. In Semester One this is normally a Monday and in Semester Two a Wednesday. Some Pathways have additional days ( i.e Emergency Care) but you will be informed of this at Induction. Practice Learning is organised on days that suit you and your Sign-off Mentor.

All students are expected to attend all classes associated with the programme and be punctual and regular in attendance. Attendance will be monitored both at the University and in the Practice Learning setting and Employers are informed of all absences.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply


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

Current Practice Specialist Nursing (Mental Health)

Year: 1

This 30 credit core module prepares undergraduate specialist nursing students to explore critically key challenges in current mental health practice with specific reference to meeting the needs of people with debilitating mental health problems. The emphasis is on exploring current models of care and service delivery and evidence based clinical practice in mental health settings. Assessment is by coursework.

Evidence and Research Underpinning Nursing Practice

Year: 1

This module provides students with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to review evidence, in particular research findings on which to justify or change current practice, and use certain research techniques. Teaching methods will comprise introductory lectures and workshops. Assessment is by coursework and equates to a research-based dissertation in an honors degree.

Specialist Nursing Leadership.

Year: 1

This module aims to facilitate specialist nursing students develop knowledge and skills in leadership, enabling them gain a wider strategic understanding in order to become effective leaders within an interdisciplinary team. Learning and teaching methods include lectures, seminars and an opportunity to explore personal leadership in a practice learning setting. Assessment is by 100% examination.

Concepts of Holistic Practice in Specialist Mental Health Nursing

Year: 1

This module is optional

This 30 credit core module introduces undergraduate specialist nursing practice students to the principles, theory, practice, standards and application of assessment and formulation of care, safety and therapeutic interventions used in mental health practice. Students are introduced to the origins, basic model, key concepts and research evidence of assessment and formulation of care, safety and therapeutic interventions in mental health practice and are encouraged to engage in class lectures, workshops, discussions, simulated learning from case studies and directed/independent study.

The Managerial Role of the District Nurse

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides District Nursing students with the theory and evidence underpinning the professional role of the District Nurse in the context of management and organisation of care and service improvement to effectively manage patient care and contribute to the development of the district nursing service. This module will relate to other modules within the programme. This module is 100% coursework.

Contemporary Issues In Community Children's Nursing

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module will examine the knowledge, clinical and therapeutic skills required by community children's nurses to enable them to deliver care to the child and family. It will consider those issues involved in and influencing care delivery for families whose child is affected by an illness, including various modes of assessment and delivery of care. This module will relate to other modules, and respects the variety of phases of illness that may impact upon family integrity and well-being. The students increasing knowledge base and placement experience will facilitate critical thinking through reflection and integration of theoretical perspectives with practice experiences. The module is assessed by 100% course work.

Safeguarding Children for Specialist (Community Children's) Nurses

Year: 1

This module is optional

Safeguarding Children is a key issue for all specialist community children's nurses coming into contact with children and families. This module explores their role in the recognition and referral of children in need and at risk of abuse. There is a strong emphasis on collaborative working to safeguard all children (including ill children), ethical and legal issues and professional responsibilities in relation to record keeping and report writing.

Achieving the vision for Specialist Nursing Learning Disability

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module is designed to enable students to enhance previously acquired knowledge and skills required to deliver specialist nursing care to people with learning disabilities, their families and other carers and to apply these as competent community health care nurse specialists in a range of community based settings. Assessment involves coursework, and assessment of practice in clinical placement.

Effective support for people with learning disability with complex needs

Year: 1

This module is optional

This specialist module will provide students opportunities to explore a range of important professional, legal, political and ethical issues in relation to nursing care of people with learning disabilities and their families in interdisciplinary working within community settings. Students will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in decision-making and leadership through their ability to integrate theory with practice in a changing context of care. The module is assessed by 100% course work.

Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing V100

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module is available to students who are studying Specialist Nursing ( District Nursing Pathway) and\or Community Public Health Nursing to facilitate development of an active role in nurse prescribing. The legislative framework and professional and ethical principles, which underpin prescribing practice, are explored. Teaching methods include, lectures, seminars, workshops and practice learning. Assessment is by written assignment, practice learning portfolio and an examination.

Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) Portfolio

Year: 1

This module is optional

All Specialist Nursing Practice Programmes at Ulster require students to complete a 75-day practice learning period where they work under the supervision of a Nursing Midwifery Council approved Sign-Off Mentor and a University Lecturer known as a Pathway Leader. This period of Practice Learning constitutes 50% of the programme at both undergraduate and post graduate level. Furthermore this practice learning period runs alongside the theoretical part of the programme, one year for full time students and two years for part-time students. Course regulations state that the academic award is wholly dependent on completion of the Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) Portfolio.

Fundamental Care in District Nursing

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides District Nursing Students with the knowledge and skills required to deliver effective care to those people with long term conditions, acute, palliative and end of life illnesses, their families and informal carers. The module content reflects the specialist role of the District Nurse and is underpinned by research, clinical guidelines, policies and strategies in the delivery of person-centred care. The students increasing knowledge base and clinical placement experience will facilitate critical thinking through reflection. This module will relate to other modules within the programme. Assessment is by 100% 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

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is not specified.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 7.0.

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

Additional Entry Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Satisfy the University’s general entry requirements;
  • Hold a level 5 Diploma in Nursing (or equivalent);
  • Hold current registration with the NMC and have completed a period of experience as a registered nurse to have consolidated pre-registration outcomes.
  • Have the support of an employer for 75 days Practice Learning and the name of an appropriately qualified Sign-Off Mentor in the Practice Learning setting.
  • Have competency in written and spoken English (International students are required to have IELTS 7.0, see additional information on English Langauge Requirements).
  • Applicants for the District Nursing Pathway (+ all self -funding students) are required to complete Access NI Checks.
  • or, as an alternative to (a), (b) and/or (e):provide evidence of their ability to undertake the programme through the accreditation of prior experiential learning.

District Nursing Students Require a NI Access prior to Entry

All Self-Funded students will be have an interview with the Course Director and \or the Pathway Leader. They must have NI Accessand Uptodate Professional Indeminty Insurance. In addition Honorary Contracts with HSCTs in Northern Ireland may be required for Practice Learning.

Teaching and learning assessment

Teaching methods on the programmes are innovative and intearctive. Clinical experts and Users of the Health Service or Independent Sector, are invited to teach students about current practice, developments in the field and personal experiences of specialist nursing services.

Seminars enable students to take responsibility for leading discussions on practice based issues and reviewing the current literature in their field. Tutorial sessions enable small group work to be carried out that facilitates a specific focus for particular specialisms. Skills classes, role plays, use of table-top scenario simulation (including computerised manikin) and video play back are used where appropriate to develop skills in a range of professional interventions.

All of the above methods encourage active student participation and empower individual students to recognise that as an experienced nurse you have a wealth of experience that can be utilised to illustrate the points being made in classes.

Assessment is seen as crucial part of the learning process. A range of assessment methods including OSCEs, Reflective and Academic Essays, Case studies and Portfolio are used. Patients and families are involved in the assessment process.

Exemptions and transferability

Acreditation for Prior Learning (APL)

Students entering the degree programme will get acreditation for Level 5 Modules. Please note when you are checking the Modular structure for this programme, you will only be studying the Level 6 Modules. Some modules are listed at Level 5. Ignore these as it is assumed that you have covered this material in your Diploma and have received APL.

Due to the professional requirements of this programme, normally no exemptions are permitted at Level 6. In saying this, District Nursing students who have recently completed the V100 Nurse Prescribingand are active prescribers are permitted to apply for exemption from the Nurse Prescribing Module.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Belfast Health & Social Care Trust
  • Northern Health & Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Hospice
  • South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust - Ulster Hospital
  • Western Health and Social Care Trust
  • Southern Health and Social Care Trust

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Diabetes Specialist Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  • District Nurse
  • Learning Disability Nurse Specialist
  • Mental Health Nurse Specialist
  • Stroke Care Specialist

Career options

Graduates of this programme will be able to apply for Specialist Nursing posts in hospital and community settings. Most become Team Leaders in Specialist Nursing. There is 100% Employabilityfrom this programme.

Work placement / study abroad

All students must complete 75 days Practice Learning in an approved Practice Learning Setting.This should occur in a setting where you have direct interaction with your client group.

Professional recognition

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the purpose of registration as a qualified nurse (child).

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the purpose of registration as a qualified nurse (learning disabilities).

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the purpose of registration as a qualified nurse (mental health).

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the purpose of recording as Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) (adult)

Academic profile

The BSc(Hons) Specialist Nursing (with Pathways) is a recognised academic and professional qualification across Europe. The quality of the education is high as is the academic expectation on you as a student. You will receive the latest ideas on academic writing, research and critical analysis. The quality of learning resources at Ulster University are very high and the support of students is also good.

All of the Specialist Nursing Teaching Team at the University are established authors and researchers and provide consultancy to numerous organisations in the UK and Ireland. At the end of the programme you will be able to apply for Masters Degrees in any University across Europe. Ideally we would like you to apply to Ulster where you will have automatic entry to our MSc Nursing.


How to apply Request a prospectus

Places on this programme are normally commissioned by the Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland. Students wishing to apply for a DoH Commissioned place should contact the Practice Education Teamin their Health and Social Care Trust. The HSCT will manage your application.

Those who are not eligible for DoH Commissioned places, must apply via the University Web Page. This is known as the self-funded route and will involve an interview with the Course Director and\or the Pathway Leader. Entry via the self-funded route is also subject to availability of a Sign-Off Mentor and 75 Days Practice Learning.

Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 18/19 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:

England, Scotland, Wales
and the Islands:

£9,250.00  Discounts available

£13,680.00  Scholarships available

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Philip Goodeve -Docker Award for District Nursing

Maragret Devlin Award for Diabetes Nursing

Additional mandatory costs

Access NI (enhanced disclosure) is an additional cost for Self-Funded students.

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: Pat Deeny

T: +44 (0)28 7167 5708

M: +44 (0)75 9718 8034


Admissions queries regarding self-funding applications:

Karen McCarroll


T: +44 (0)28 90368983

For more information visit

Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

School of Nursing


"I have been a registered nurse for 18yrs and have worked in district nursing for almost 9 yrs. I wanted to undertake this course to enable to progress up the career ladder. I feel this course will help develop my knowledge in relation to district nursing and also help develop both management and leadership skills. I work for NHSCT. Initially to progress as district nursing sister which is band 6 and then hopefully to a band 7 senior practitioner post/continuing care nurse"

Bridie Logue

Northern Health and Social care Trust

"I have been a registered nurse for 7 years and have worked in District Nursing for 4 years. In order to further my career I wanted take this Specialist Nursing course in District Nursing. I find the research module and the leadership module are both very challenging. Its difficult to get into the way of academic writing when you havent been studying for a while and I feel that it has taken me until week 9 to figure out exactly what is expected and even at that am not 100% sure that am on the right track. Maybe thats just me!"

Many thanks

Donna McCarrison

Staff Nurse in Community

South Eastern Trust

"I have been a registered nurse for 27yrs, moving only in the last 2yrs to the children’s' community setting. I wanted to gain more knowledge in this specialist area of Children’s' Community Nursing. I find the degree in Specialist Nursing helps me with continued development in leadership and decision making skills in order to work and help the children and families availing of the services within the community setting. In turn ,enabling me to deliver the most up to date evidence based practice to provide high quality specialist care".

Euphrasie Mc Laughlin

Western Health and Social Care Trust.