Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - PgDip

2025/26 Full-time Postgraduate course


Postgraduate Diploma


Faculty of Life and Health Sciences


School of Nursing and Paramedic Science


Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2025


This course will prepare the student to become Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (NMC 2022) and achieve the academic award of PGDip in SCPHN.


The programme aims to provide students with the knowledge, critical understanding, skills, values and resilience to manage the delivery of services in complex settings and with at risk families. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses need to be autonomous practitioners and work across organisational boundaries. The programme embodies a person-centred approach to meet and lead the care needs of individuals, families and communities with a range of needs and from varying backgrounds and ethnicities.

Ulster university is the sole provider in Northern Ireland of this course. The completion of this course allows students to progress their career and practice at a specialist level. The programme engenders a sense of pride amongst staff, students and alumni. The course has a national reputation for excellence in SCPHN practice which results in it being annually commissioned by the Department of Health.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


Language of instruction: English

The specialist fields of practice we offer are Health Visiting or School Nursing.

This programme leads to the award of Post Graduate Diploma in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing and registration on Part 3 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) Register (annotated according to chosen field of practice as: Health Visiting or School Nursing.

The course in a 40% - 60% split with 40% theory which is composed of two nine-week blocks in university and 60% (130days) in the Practice Learning Environment.

Learning and teaching is delivered in a hybrid model with a combination of lectures, seminars, online activities and self-directed learning. The students is required to successfully complete 6 modules in a minimum of 52 weeks full time. The programme would normally be completed in full-time mode over an academic year (3 semesters). There are six modules, each module is worth 20 credits totalling 120 credit points.

Module Title

NUR892 Evidence synthesis and translation for specialist community public health nursing


NUR893 Promoting Human Rights and Addressing Health Inequalities

NUR894 Partnerships and decision making in Safeguarding Practice

NUR895 Developing autonomous person-centred Practice

NUR896 Leading public health practice

NUR897 Practice learning for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing

Total 120 Credits at level 7

Students must successfully complete all modules including NUR897 PAD which assessed in practice by the Practice Assessor/s and Academic Assessor. This module is a 20 credit pass/fail module but does not contribute to the classification of the PG Dip.

Students will be expected to attend additional workshops throughout the programme, for example UNICEF breastfeeding training and Solihull.


Full-time. Health Visiting and School Nursing.

Full-time. The duration of the programme is 52 weeks.

Attendance (Full-time)

A minimum of 130 days in the Practice Learning Environment.

Start dates

  • September 2025

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 module learning outcomes and to provide the foundation for other learning. There is a continuous focus upon how theory informs and is informed by practice and practitioners.

A hybrid approach to learning and teaching will be used which includes in class lectures and seminars and directed learning opportunities in the virtual learning environment. Lectures will introduce theory, policy, key principles and concepts. Seminars will be field specific providing opportunities for students to critically reflect on the content of lectures and reflect on the application of knowledge to field specific specialist community public health nursing practice.

This learning environment will also encourage the students to foster the ability to challenge in a supportive learning environment and develop advanced communication, collaboration and networking skills. Problem based scenarios, simulations and case studies which reflect on real life will be developed in consultation with stakeholders and clinical experts to facilitate learning and to encourage integration of theory to practice.

Student will also be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and will be afforded the opportunity for independent study. Expectations are that students embrace these opportunities, engage with resources and fully prepare to contribute to lecture and seminars.

The use of digital technology is promoted for example through Blackboard Ultra, which is utilised as a platform to share learning and teaching resources and provide a forum for student/lecturer discussion, submit assignments and provide general student support and information.

As well as through the teaching methods outlined above, we are expecting that students will research topics, using the recommended reading lists and avail of the library resources at Ulster University. IT laboratories are available on campus for web browsing through Blackboard Learning which is the university virtual learning platform. Students will be encouraged to search using various databases and will be directed to relevant websites throughout the course. Students will be encouraged to create their own digital footprint.

Assessment Methods

Each module will have two items of assessment, the pass mark for each module is 50%. All modules must be passed successfully to complete the course and gain the award of Post graduate Diploma in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing. Examples of assessments used are critical anotated bibliograhies, action plans and community profiling.

The Practice Assessment Document (PAD) must be passed at the summative assessment point. The Pad is awarded a Pass or Fail.

A combination of formative and summative assessment will be used to facilitate continuous and incremental student learning. This will require students to demonstrate the ability to blend theory with practice through participation and by production of coursework.

Formative assessment will help students to prepare for summative assessment. Formative and summative assessment will take place in the practice learning environment to enable the students to develop their skills. The student is required to complete a minimum of 130 days in the Practice Learning environment under the supervision of a Practice Supervisor and Practice Assessor who will assess their proficiencies.This will be evidenced by the development of a Practice Learning Portfolio which will demonstrate progression towards achievement of NMC (2022) proficiencies.

Attendance and Independent Study

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:

  • 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, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses 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. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. 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

    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 assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    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, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. 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. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) 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 and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - 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.

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 from the academic year 2022-2023.

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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

Evidence synthesis and translation for specialist community public health nursing practice

Year: 1

This module focuses on the development of knowledge and skills related to two components of the specialist community public health nurse role as a leader in public health: the development of strategies to access, evaluate and synthesise relevant evidence and the presentation and use of evidence for the purpose of informing and shaping practice and policy.

Promoting Human Rights and Addressing Health Inequalities

Year: 1

This course will prepare students to understand the importance of human rights, inclusion and diversity and the impact this has on health and well-being. Within this module students will analyse the impact of health inequalities and the risks to individuals, families, communities and populations and learn to identify and address risks associated with these inequalities as part of their role as specialist community public health nurses.

Partnerships & Decision Making in Safeguarding Practice

Year: 1

This module focuses on the development of the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for the SCPHNs role of assessing and mitigating risk to children, young people and families. To be able to work in partnership with other agencies to support those children and families most at risk or in times of vulnerability in order to mitigate that risk and provide support through a trauma informed approach.

Developing person centred autonomous practice

Year: 1

SCPHN professionals are in the frontline of public health. They are culturally competent, autonomous practitioners who are committed to improving people's health and wellbeing. They understand the wider determinants of health and seek to address health inequalities across the diverse communities and populations they serve. The role of the Specialist Community Public Health Nurse either, health visiting/school nurse in identification and early intervention with children and parents has become increasingly significant in trying to improve the long term overall health outcomes of children. The SCPHN (HV, SN) needs to be an autonomous person centred practitioner who is responsive to families' individual requirements and be able to tailor interventions accordingly. This module will provide the student with knowledge required to fulfil this role. Working under the supervision and in partnership with Practice assessor/supervisor in the practice learning environment will give the student the opportunity for application in practice. The students increasing knowledge base and placement learning experience will facilitate critical thinking through reflection and integration of theoretical perspectives with practice experiences.

Leading public health practice

Year: 1

This Level 7 module will facilitate the student to develop in depth theoretical and evidence-based knowledge of public health which is fundamental to the practice of specialist community public health nursing practice. Students will be challenged to deepen their skills as critical, skilled and collaborative specialist practitioners. The successful student will be become a competent, evidence-based practitioner, applying innovative and sustainable approaches to co-produce, implement and evaluate person-centred public health interventions. They will become a more effective and collaborative professional, realising their potential to positively impact population health. The successful student will be increasingly capable of contributing to and influencing policy development and strategic planning to address population health needs.

Practice learning for specialist community public health nursing

Year: 1

This module aims to prepare students to graduate with a post registration specialist community public health nursing qualification. Through completion on this module and associated academic modules, the student will become a specialist community public health nurse who will lead, collaborate, promote, protect and prevent ill-health across the life course.

Standard 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.

Entry Requirements

Health Visting and School nursing students are required to apply for the programme through the regional recruitment process.Self-funding applicants must follow the regional recruitment process and apply to the preferred trust, and if successful at interview and a commissioned place is not available, the opportunity to self-fund will be offered. 

Applicants must:

  • have gained an honours or non-honours degree in nursing or another health related area from a University of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland or from a recognised national awarding body or hold an equivalent standard in a Postgraduate Certificate, Graduate Certificate or a Graduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification. In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate attributes including subject-specific outcomes may be considered as an alternative entrance route.
  • be currently registered on part 1 or 2 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register
  • Provide an Access NI Enhance Disclosure certificate, which is current on application to Ulster

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

International students must achieve a score of 7 overall and 7 on each sub-scale on the IELTS test of proficiency in English (NMC requirement).

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

Exemptions and transferability

Exit award

Students who fail the practice element but pass all academic modules will be awarded a

Post Graduate Diploma in Community Public Health as an academic award (120 credits at Level 7) but do not register with the NMC.

Careers & opportunities

Career options

Career prospects of graduates from this programme are excellent with the majority moving rapidly into permanent posts with their specialist area.

Professional Recognition

Upon successful completion, you will be eligible to register on the 3rd part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.

Professional recognition

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the purpose of registration as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse


Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

2025/26 Fees

Postgraduate fees are subject to annual review, 2025/26 fees will be announced in due course.

See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2024/25 entry.

Scholarships, awards and prizes

The Maura Hamil McKenna cup is an award for the highest overall academic mark achieved by a student.

Additional mandatory costs

AccessNI Check

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

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

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


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