BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • 2nd in the East of England for Nursing (2023 Complete University Guide)
  • 93% overall student satisfaction in the 2022 National Student Survey (NSS)
  • Opportunities to learn across a diverse range of placements

Do you feel passionate about health and social inclusion for those who are more vulnerable in society? Do you believe everyone deserves to live a fulfilling life whilst maintaining their independence? If the answer is yes, Learning Disabilities Nursing is the profession for you. As a Learning Disabilities Nurse, you’ll have the challenging yet rewarding job of caring for people with a range of needs. You’ll also work in partnership with family, carers and specialist healthcare professionals, promoting health and wellbeing, to ensure that people with learning disabilities reach their full potential.  

Right from the start you’ll receive a blend of theory and practical experience. Half the course will be spent at the University. The other half of your time, you’ll gain real life work experience work skills in a variety of settings. We’ll engage your passion and interest in working with people with learning disabilities and/autism.  

You’ll develop knowledge and skills they will rely on and depend upon to support their physical, psychological and mental health needs. This incredibly rewarding programme of study will see you fulfilled in a multitude of ways. Rewarded by the achievement of that ultimate goal of seeing first-hand the improved mental and physical well-being of somebody who may not have been able to experience this without your knowledge and skills. Rewarded by your individual learning and growth in practical and theoretical confidence, rewarded by the company you keep with your peers and teachers who share your passion and are like-minded in their pursuit for enhancing lives.  

We are a diverse academic team with an impressive profile of expertise. We are researchers, authors, clinical practitioners, qualified teachers and policymakers and our portfolio is enhanced by lived experience of intellectual disabilities and autism.

By the time you graduate, you’ll be ready to choose which area of Learning Disabilities Nursing you would like to pursue as a career. Our graduates hold a variety of positions including community nurses, inpatient nurses, forensic nurses, liaison nurses in general hospitals, specialist nurses within autistic services, prison nurses and others. You could also receive between £5,000 and £8,000 a year to help fund your studies and the good news is that you won’t have to pay back a penny.  

Be that voice for those who may be overlooked by society. Be the one that upholds the rights of people with learning disabilities. Be a Learning Disabilities Nurse. 

What's the course about?

Your time at the University  

You’ll spend 50% of your time here. You’ll develop your theory in different learning environments including lecture theatres, smaller seminars, group tutorials completing projects, discussions, spending time in our new clinical labs practising simulated skills. You’ll learn how to comprehensively assess somebody’s health when they are having difficulty articulating what is wrong with them, you’ll provide a holistic care plan, considering a person’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. We’ll teach you how to increase a person’s motivation to undertake the actions within their care plan by increasing the ownership and placing the person within the centre of their care. Your taught theory will be supplemented by a range of online/digital learning technologies including virtual classrooms and access to hundreds of journal articles and e-books. A range of assessments will test your new knowledge and ability to apply it to practical scenarios, continuously developing your creative and innovative ways of working with people who may have very different perspectives from our own.  

Your time on a practice placement   

You’ll spend 50% of your time in a practice placement, you could be working with the NHS Trusts in Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire or in London. You’ll also find many learning disability nurses working within the private health sector, which we also utilise to extend your practical placements. You will be supervised and supported with your learning in a supernumerary and safe environment by qualified Learning Disability Nurses who remember only too well what it was like to be a student. Our practice partners are some of the most passionate and caring individuals you’ll meet, all of whom have the people they support at the centre of their practice.  

Your practice experience may involve working with a broad range of health and social care professionals and carers who support children, adults and older people who have special needs/ disabilities. 

Practice learning experiences during the three-year course include: 

  • Community Learning Disabilities Nursing teams.  
  • Assessment and treatment services. 
  • Forensic services. 
  • Day care / outreach / educational services. 
  • A range of residential services in health, social, and independent settings. 
  • Health liaison experience 
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Teams 
  • Short Term Break and Respite Services. 
  • A student-led experience 

All practice learning experience meet Nursing and Midwifery Council requirements 

In your first year, we’ll get you started with the foundations and the building blocks for further developments of knowledge and skills. You’ll begin to understand the role of a Learning Disabilities Nurse and the impact they have on the people they support and the services they work in. You’ll explore the anatomy and physiology of the human body in relation to a variety of physical health and mental health conditions. We’ll work with you to reflect upon your communication skills and understand how important they are and hear first-hand accounts of the lived experience by those who have been exposed to learning disabilities and more general health and social care institutions. As well as having people with learning disabilities and/or autism within our teaching teams, we also engage with many others who have impacted upon our recruitment, development of curricula and its delivery. 

In your second year, you’ll start to explore how young people move between new services as they mature into adulthood. We’ll help you develop your understanding of the physical health needs that are more specific to people with learning disabilities and how Learning Disabilities Nurses are required to become specialists within these particular areas of health. You’ll also critically analyse research methods that inform today’s Learning Disabilities Nursing practice and recognise the importance of evidence-based practice and reflecting upon how it can influence and improve your own practice. There’ll also be the option to apply for an International module which will be delivered with students from five other higher education institutions within different countries. If selected, it’s likely you’ll be travelling to one of these countries, funded by Erasmus EU Project, to enjoy the programme delivery.  This has proved to be an extremely enjoyable and well evaluated element of the programme and unique Learning Disabilities Nursing.  

In your final year, your knowledge base will be stronger which will be impacting upon your confidence to demonstrate innovative practice. We dedicate a large part of the final year to developing your imaginative and innovative skills and require you to challenge existing practices with a firm eye on improving the care and lives of the people we support. The assessment for this part of the programme will see us help you create an evidence-based proposal to effect positive change in service delivery. You’ll study leadership and management within this field of nursing and be encouraged to take a more leading role within your practical learning. 

Your main campus is College Lane  

This is where the creative arts, science and health-related subjects are based. This means you’ll share the campus with future nurses, scientists, artists and more. You can use the common rooms to relax with friends, work out in the 24-hour gym or have a drink in our on-campus pub or cafes. We also have restaurants for you to eat in or grab something on the go. Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.   

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6.  These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study.  Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each.    

'The best thing about studying at the University is the level of support we receive. The staff are very supportive and want everyone to succeed so they invest their time to enable us to achieve our goals. In addition, the resources and facilities are world class.'

Jamila Noah Foissang

BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Student Blogs

Rosemary - Week at a glance

My typical day

As I am balancing university with raising a family, I always try to keep up a good routine. I normally get up every day at 05:45 and make myself some coffee to wake me up as I am not a morning person. Before another exciting day at university, I do a few house chores like taking out the meat from the freezer for supper and just taking note that all the ingredients are there if not, I will then make a list to pick those up on my way from university in the evening.

About 07:00 I am ready to embrace my beautiful day. It takes me about forty-five minutes to reach university compass. So, it is a long commute for me, but I do enjoy this ride every day. I usually start my lessons at about 09:00. Lunch is an important thing for most of us as students we need to keep healthy. There are several food shops/restaurants within the compass and their food is excellent and delicious, at times I try to bring my own home-cooked food too as it is a good way of keeping healthy as well as saving some few pounds per day. After lunch, if we do not have a lesson, I usually go to the library with my classmates to do some researches or just to study for the next lesson. University lessons usually end at about 17:00. In the evening I sometimes help my teenage son with his homework, prepare the family meal and after the meal, my elder daughter does the washing up. During the times that I do not cook I use my time to do my research and to prepare for the following day of university and relax a bit. I do watch tv as a relaxation time before I go to bed. I also use this time to call my family. I am usually in bed at about 23:00 the latest so that I can be up on time and to be well-rested too for another day. This seems like a hard day, but the rewards are priceless.

Student Blogs

Rosemary - About my course

About my course

I had applied to three universities and had my interviews at the University of Hertfordshire and Aston University. I was offered a conditional offer at herts and at Aston university it was an unconditional offer. The condition was that I had to pass my access to nursing with certain grades to meet the UCAS points that were needed.

The night before the results day I was in a panic as most of my friends had already been granted unconditional offers. This made me more nervous as these results were more important in my educational life. Failing meant I was not going to make it to university. I remember getting agitated and restless the entire day. Tried to sleep but I could not. I kept on checking my clock just to make sure I would not oversleep and miss the important day of my life. Time went by and before I blinked it was already the special day everyone was waiting for. "Fingers crossed, fingers crossed, fingers..." I kept repeating the words as I got dressed and ready for the challenge. On one hand, I was excited and on the other, I was a nervous wreck. For others, it didn't mean much as they already had places to University. I couldn't eat my stomach was aching from panic. I arrived at College exceedingly early, the day was sunny and beautiful. Everyone looked busy and excited. We waited in the queue to collect our results and this took forever making me even more nervous. I could hear my heartbeat and my breathing getting intense. One of my college tutors came to have a talk with us and to reassure us that we had all passed. As soon as I collected my results, I took myself to a quiet place to check my results. It turned out that I was worrying myself for no reason as I had passed with flying colours. I was able to choose the university of my choice.

Herts was my dream University as I had heard so many good things about it. Most of my friends and relatives have been at this University and they had had a wonderful experience. I can say that for the past few months that I have been here I can gladly say this is the best of my Uni days and I know my years of education here will be the best.

Student Blogs

Rosemary - Why I chose Herts

Why I chose Herts

I have chosen learning disability nursing because I am passionate about helping people who have learning disabilities, to be their advocator their voice and their helper. I love to make a difference in their wellbeing so that they can live their lives as independent as possible. This nursing group has very few nurses and there are some shortages of learning disabilities nurses. I chose to be one of the learning disabilities nurses so that I can be part of the community of people who help people who have learning disabilities and their families.

I love the positive changes that I know learning disability nurses can bring about. It makes me so happy to see the faces of parents lighting up when they can actively access the community activities with their children. It is a rewarding profession to me as at the end of the day I can look back and see what I have done, like putting a smile in someone's face or held someone's hand and be lost in their world. I love to be part of my patients and their families to feel how they are feeling and to be able to assist in knowing the best way to do the job.

At the University of Hertfordshire, I am incredibly lucky as I have the best of everything. The resources are so plentiful, we have two Learning Resource Centres (LRCs) one on each campus and all the people who work in the LRC are all so helpful. All the tutors are so happy to help even those who are not your actual tutors. Our class is small and everyone professionally is like family. I really appreciate our personal tutor; she is an amazing lady. She makes us feel at home, making learning funny and interesting. The University of Hertfordshire is the best thing that has happened to me as I am stress-free since I started my educational journey here. There is all the help that one needs here, be it financial, wellbeing and academic all you need to do is to ask for it. I will not change it for the world I am loving here at the University of Hertfordshire.

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Student Blogs

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Alumni Stories

Ramatu Nguru

Meet Ramutu Nguru who has excelled as a Registered Nutritionist since graduating in 2016. She currently works as a School Food Nutritionist for Herts Catering Limited (HCL).

Read more stories
Current job roleSchool Food Nutritionist
Year of graduation2016
Course of studyBSc (Hons) Nutrition
Ramutu Nguru headshot

Essential skills for the future

Ramatu graduated having studied Nutrition and has now entered her chosen career as a Registered Nutritionist (RNutr) with the Association for Nutrition (AfN). She currently works as a School Food Nutritionist for Herts Catering Limited (HCL). Her course enabled Ramatu to achieve her career aspirations, providing invaluable experience which included work shadowing, volunteering and practical work placement opportunities alongside various registered nutritionists and dieticians.

Ramatu says, 'Many employers advertise for nutritionists who are already registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). In order to register, you would need to be able to demonstrate that you meet the underpinning knowledge and professional skills required.' Studying a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition or related bioscience degree provides students with an abundance of practicable and transferable experience which will enable you to make crucial inroads into the profession.'

Experience is crucial

Experience is crucial and Ramatu attests that it is even more beneficial than good grades. She advises students to seek out as much opportunity as possible to gain professional experience and says, 'My priority is to continually develop professionally as a Registered Nutritionist as there is always room to improve my own practice and service delivery.' The University provides fantastic opportunities for students through work placements, study abroad schemes as well as the fantastic industry led practical elements embedded into the courses themselves.

Alumni headshot

Alumni Stories

Khan Asghar Iqbal

Meet Khan Asghar Iqbal who is saving lives everyday as a Newly Qualified Paramedic (NQP). He is currently working for the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust.

Read more stories Find out more about this course
Current job roleNewly Qualified Paramedic
Year of graduation2018
Course of studyBSc (Hons) Paramedic Science

A unique degree and experience

Khan says his ambition to work in London and move out of his hometown in Cardiff was a key factor in choosing to study at the University of Hertfordshire. However, his course also provided a unique combination of theoretical and practical study which Khan says, 'prepared me to put my knowledge into practice while out on placement each term. The course also gave me a glimpse of future opportunities for paramedics such as teaching, management and advanced practice.'

The vocational nature of the degree enabled him to transition smoothly into his chosen career providing him with the essential professional skills and hands on experience he required to excel as a paramedic. He says, 'The course gives you the knowledge to make lifesaving decisions but also gives you more advanced knowledge regarding complicated conditions and the various medicines that come with each patient.'

Khan speaks fondly of his time at the University and says, 'I truly miss everyone I became friends with on my degree. Some of the nights out in the Forum were the best I've ever had and they will be everlasting memories, with friends both on and off of my course. I really came out of my shell and comfort zone and it has made me into the confident and outgoing person I am today.'

Get your dream job

Khan says that being a paramedic is the 'best job in the World' and, although he has just started his career, he hopes to go onto postgraduate study and experience new cultures by travelling.