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Learning Disability Nursing PgDip


Learning disability nurses enable individuals to live their lives to their full potential within the social context they choose, through collaborative interventions across a variety of health and social care settings and by using specialist input, through person centred practice, underpinned by the concept of partnership working.

This course teaches you to promote social inclusion, good mental and physical health and self-determination through developing your skills, knowledge and attributes. All learning is grounded in a strong evidence base of integrative health and social care modelling. Our placements are varied, offering you the chance to create a future career that will be rewarding both for your personal and professional advancement.

Find out about Learning Disability Nursing at LSBU from our very own students and staff:

Success on this course makes you eligible to register as a learning disabilities nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Top-up to MSc

By completing a dissertation (an extended and independent piece of written research) following graduation as a registered nurse you'll be able to gain a masters. Students who successfully complete the PgDip RN course have up to four years to complete the dissertation module via part time study.


Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
MSc (top-up) Full-time
1 year
Start Date
Southwark Campus
PgDip Full-time
2 years
Start Date
Southwark Campus

Case studies


You will be taught separately from the three-year undergraduate students and will study the following:

Year 1

  • Improving quality, change management and leadership
    During this module you’ll explore key principles of quality improvement. You’ll critically evaluate and apply service improvement methodologies and change management models, and develop your knowledge and skills in becoming a leader in your practice area.
  • Building practice skills for learning disability nursing
    You’ll undertake a non-credit bearing practice module to enable the development of requisite clinical and interpersonal skills needed to practice effectively as a learning disability nurse.
  • Applied physiology, growth and development
    In this module, you’ll study physiology in relation to the growth and development of people with learning disabilities. This will include the impact of maternal and pre-natal health on physiology, growth and development.
  • Contemporary issues in learning disability nursing
    In this module you’ll engage in pertinent debates related to emerging policy trends and the wider health and social care context as it impacts on people with learning disabilities and their identified circles of support.

Year 2

  • Research in health and social care
    This module will extend your knowledge of research approaches and methods, enhancing your ability to be a critical consumer of research evidence. This module provides underpinning knowledge and skills for students who wish to complete their dissertation.
  • Enhancing practice skills in learning disability nursing
    This non-credit bearing module consolidates and further develops your clinical and inter-personal skills in the context of implementing evidence-based practice.
  • Complexity in learning disabilities
    This module provides the opportunity to develop critical insight into complex needs experienced by people with learning disabilities throughout the lifespan, in the context of their identified circles of support. This will include contemporary approaches to supporting syndrome-specific issues, physical and/or mental health needs, and behavioural issues.
  • Advanced communication
    This module builds on your knowledge of the issues impacting on the inclusion of people with learning disabilities and offers evidence-based interventions to meet the needs of this group. The module will enhance your specialist communication skills to work in partnership with individuals with learning disabilities, their identified circles of support and the wider multidisciplinary team.

MSc pathway

You'll follow the same modules as outlined above for the PgDip, with the addition of a dissertation:

  • Dissertation
    This module provides the opportunity to undertake original enquiry in a chosen area of professional practice. Through the preparatory learning set you’ll be able to consolidate and extend your knowledge and understanding of research and evaluation design and associated methods of enquiry. You’ll be supported to develop the practical skills necessary to plan and carry out your chosen project. The preparatory learning set will address ethical and governance issues and processes relevant to your project.

Assessment methods vary within each module, mapped against the professional standards as outlined by the NMC (2010) and assessed either through course work, and/or clinical placement assessments. Written assessments include essays, case study's, and critical reviews of evidence for example. Clinical practice assessments include achievements of identified competencies, a learning assessment portfolio, and problem based scenarios.


Learning disability nursing as a career

The course will enable you to develop a wide range of employability skills through the emphasis on a vocational approach to teaching which leads to a professional qualification leading to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

There is an increasing body of research that shows the need for learning disability nurses as a specialist resource to address health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities. The course will give you the specialist knowledge and skills to work in a wide range of services, and  the confidence to work collaboratively with people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, and other professionals and agencies.

Role and responsibilities

As a learning disabilities nurse you would work with people of all ages to give them the skills and confidence they need to live as independently as possible. You'd be working as part of a multi-disciplinary team and be responsible for co-ordinating care plans with other healthcare professionals, as  well as monitoring progress. A learning disabilities nurse would be responsible for making an initial assessment of a patient's health and social care needs.

Day-to-day duties would be likely to include help and encouragement with tasks such as personal hygiene, dressing, using public transport, shopping, leisure interests, making and attending appointments, and finding a job. Learning disabilities nursing also involves campaigning on behalf of those with  learning disabilities, supporting the agenda for equality and trying to improve healthcare services for those with learning difficulties.

Working hours and salary

Nurses usually work around 37.5 hours a week, but this can include evenings, weekends, night shifts and bank holidays due to the need to provide 24-hour care for some patients. 

Newly qualified nurses can expect to earn around £21,000 a year but with experience, this can rise to around £28,000. Those working as advanced practitioners, clinical specialists or managers can earn up to £40,000 and nursing consultants can earn up to £70,000 a year.

Career progression

Graduates of our BSc (Hons) programmes have gone on to work in NHS services, independent and voluntary sector services for children and adults, and in social care settings in managerial roles.

Successful graduates of the PgDip can top-up to MSc in one year and will be qualified to study a range of further specialist postgraduate pathways. With additional experience, advanced practice is available at Masters level with the potential to progress to doctorate studies. Once you are a registered  nurse browse our online CPPD prospectus to find out what courses are on offer to help with your professional development.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

  • direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
  • Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
  • mentoring and work shadowing schemes.


Every student will spend 50% of the course on placement. You'll have the opportunity to work in partnership with individuals with learning disabilities and their families using a health mentoring model. Alternatively you can work in partnership with community based organisations on projects where all parties increase their awareness, understanding and valuing of their roles, using strength based approaches. 

The placement aim is to provide a broad range of experiences working with children and adults with learning disabilities in a variety of settings. This will enhance your knowledge and experience of the range of challenges people with a learning disability may face on a daily basis and what can be done to assist not only the individual but also their families. 

You'll also gain insight into what is available to support workers and organisations providing services in the areas of physical and mental health, complex care needs, communication, behaviours of concern, sexuality, personal care and a range of other areas.


Teaching and learning

You'll be expected to work as an independent adult learner, working alongside academic staff to expand and extend your knowledge, skills and attitudes as a critical scholar in the field of Intellectual Disabilities. 

You'll be allocated a personal tutor, a cohort leader, and a course director, plus clinical mentors, and link lecturers whilst on placement.

The course makes use of the virtual learning environment MOODLE, an interactive based system for accurate and rapid information sharing, so course materials are available whenever you need them. A range of learning styles are employed, including visits from service users and their carers, to ensure the course remains contemporary and applied to real life situations.

Entry requirements

Applicants will be considered on an individual basis but will normally require: 

  • A Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2:2 classification. Candidates without a health or science related degree are required to complete a Life Sciences work book package to satisfy the Life Sciences element of the APL portfolio. 
  • In accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requirements, Maths and English GCSEs/equivalent (at C or above) are also required.

Those whom English is not their first language must achieve a minimum score of 7.0 overall or equivalent, with not less than 7.0 in the listening and reading sections and not less than 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections for the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) at the time of application.

How to apply

Instructions for Home/EU applicants
Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
MSc (top-up) Full-time
1 year
Start date
Application code
Application method
PgDip Full-time
2 years
Start date
Application code
Application method

Although this is a postgraduate course, all students apply to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details of how to do this are supplied on our How to apply webpage for undergraduate students.

Six stages to your application for nursing:

  1. Attend an Open Day 
  2. Apply to us through UCAS
  3. Write your personal statement and use this as a tool to illustrate why you are right for the course
  4. Write your APL claim
  5. Carry out the literacy and numeracy tests 
  6. Prepare for your interview

Personal statements

Remember the personal statement is extremely important. This is essentially a selling tool on why you are right for the course. The personal statement is taken into consideration when shortlisting applicants for interview. Download our Personal Statement Guide (PDF File 160 KB).

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

You will need to complete an Accreditation to Prior Learning (APL) application. You may apply for APL through both certificated learning and the production of a portfolio to demonstrate achievement of programme outcomes for the programme you have applied for through experience. You are permitted to claim up to 50% APL when applying to study with us using prior work and academic experience, for example: previous health or science based Degree studies, Foundation degree etc. You will be provided with guidance notes to assist you in constructing this.

Second part to your application

Numeracy and literacy tests

If your application has been successfully shortlisted you will be invited to take a numeracy and literacy test. 

You will undertake the numeracy test first and if successful in passing this you will be asked to complete the literacy test. Those that do not pass the numeracy test will be informed their application will go no further on the day. The numeracy and literacy tests will take 30 minutes each. 

Strong numeracy and literacy skills are essential for a career in nursing. To help prepare for the numeracy and literacy assessments you should do some revision to help you feel confident about the tests. Look back at your GCSE or Functional Skills work in English and Mathematics to refresh your memory.

Download and practice our sample tests:

There is no parking available at the University, please use public transport to make your journey to the campus.


If you have successfully completed the numeracy and literacy tests you will be invited to an interview on another date. Attendance at face to face interviews is essential for all courses. Service colleagues from NHS Trusts form part of the group interview panels. Download and read our Interview Guidance (PDF File 88 KB) to help you prepare for your interview.

You will also need to complete a Declaration of character and conduct form (PDF File 166 KB) and the Interview Declaration form (PDF File 44 KB) and bring these with you to your interview.

There is no parking available at the University, please use public transport to make your journey to the campus.

If you are travelling further than 100 miles to attend the numeracy and literacy assessment and the interview, it may be possible to arrange for the numeracy and literacy tests and the interview to be undertaken on the same day, email if you would like to discuss organising this.

Postgraduate Application Service

Book your time with one of our specialist Postgraduate Advisors. Over a one on one Advice Session they'll advise you on postgraduate degrees at LSBU that match your interests and experience. And when you're ready to apply join one of our Postgraduate Application Sessions. There, we take small groups of up to four people through the application process. Look online for the next of our Advice Sessions or Postgraduate Application Sessions.

Fees and funding

Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.

The fee shown is for entry 2018/19.
UK/EU fee: £9250International fee: £0
AOS/LSBU code: 3982Session code: 1FS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £18500
International £0

Funding for pre-registration postgraduate programmes 2018/19

The following information is subject to parliamentary approval:

From August 2018 new postgraduate pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students will access loans from the Student Loans Company.

Accessing loans will provide students with at least 25% more up-front living cost support whilst you study. You will also have access to the Learning Support Fund, which is administered by the NHS Business Services Authority, for support while attending clinical placements.

Background to these changes can be found on

Council of Deans have prepared a briefing paper and Student Finance have outlined who qualifies. The Funding Clinic provides further information on what support is available.

NHS Bursary will produce guidelines and information once the information has received parliamentary approval.

Postgraduate Advice Service

You are invited to book a one-to-one appointment with one of our Postgraduate Advisors. They offer a 30 minute face-to-face session where you can get tailored advice on fees and funding. Book a 1-2-1 Advice Session.


We offer students considerable financial help through scholarships, bursaries, charitable funds, loans and other financial support. Many of our scholarships are given as direct Tuition Fee discounts.

Overview of scholarships and fee discounts for postgraduate students. Key scholarships and discounts below.

Vice-Chancellor Scholarships

Students holding an offer of a place on a postgraduate course will be invited to apply for a Vice-Chancellor Scholarships.

LSBU Graduate Loyalty Scheme

This scheme gives eligible undergraduate students and alumni a discount of their taught postgraduate tuition fees when they enrol on one of our postgraduate taught courses starting this year. Read more about the Graduate Loyalty Scheme.

Fees for 2017

Fees for 2017 have not yet been published for this course. Please check back later in the year.

Case studies

Select a case study and read about practical project work, student's placement experiences, research projects, alumni career achievements and what it's really like to study here from the student perspective.

Prepare to start

We help our students prepare for university even before the semester starts. To find out when you should apply for your LSBU accommodation or student finance read How to apply tab for this course.

Enrolment and Induction

Enrolment takes place before you start your course. On completing the process, new students formally join the University. Enrolment consists of two stages: online, and your face-to-face enrolment meeting. The online process is an online data gathering exercise that you will complete yourself, then you will be invited to your face-to-face enrolment meeting.

In September, applicants who have accepted an unconditional offer to study at LSBU will be sent details of induction, which is when they are welcomed to the University and their School. Induction helps you get the best out of your university experience, and makes sure you have all the tools to succeed in your studies.

Read more about Enrolment and Induction.

Suggested reading

  • Falk-Rafael, A., C. Ward-Griffin, et al. (2004). "Teachingnursing students to promote the health of communities: A partnershipapproach." Nurse Educator 29(2): 63-67.
  • Goddard, L.,Mackey, S., & Davidson, P. (2010). Functional clinical placements: A driverfor change. Nurse Education Today, 30, 398-404.
  • Kirkham, S. R., C. H. Harwood, et al.(2005). "Capturing a vision for nursing: undergraduate nursing students inalternative settings." NurseEducator 30(6): 263-270.
  • Parks, M (2014) Caring for a child withprofound disabilities: a mother's story. Learning Disability Practice, 15(5): 27-30.
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Tel: +44 (0) 20 7815 6100

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