Bachelor of Nursing (Hons)(Learning Disabilities)

93% of our Learning Disabilities Nursing graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduating Graduate Destination Survey 2016

Do you want to support the wellbeing and social inclusion of people with learning disabilities? Learning disability nurses care for people of all ages with a learning disability and work in partnership with individuals, supporters and family carers to provide specialist healthcare. They promote their autonomy, rights, choices and their social inclusion in the health care system.

This three-year learning disabilities nursing degree combines theory and practice in an innovative way, to focus on the care of people with learning disabilities. Successful completion of this nursing degree will allow you entry to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Register as a qualified learning disabilities nurse.

Currently, if you are a UK student, the fees for your nursing course will be paid by the Welsh Government. Follow Care Sciences on Twitter and Instagram.


UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
B703 Full-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
B703 Full-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A

You’ll develop key skills and knowledge in communication, sensitive human interaction, anti-oppressive practice, positive behavioural support, health assessment and promotion, mental health, safeguarding, advocacy, teaching, professional issues, counselling and management.

Your studies will be based in our state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Centre. Role-play scenarios will prepare you for clinical practice and allow you to develop a wide range of practical skills that will prepare you for life as a learning disability nurse.

You will study a mixture of Generic (Adult, Mental Health and Child) and Learning Disability Nursing modules over three years. This means you will have the skills to provide a basic level of care to all groups and specialist care for learning disability groups.

USW Learning Disabilities Nursing students can also undertake the BTEC Professional Diploma in Positive Behavioural Support (PBS), which is fully funded by WEDS. PBS is strongly advocated in guidelines for supporting people with behaviour that challenges, so this is a valuable qualification to have, in addition to your professional qualification as an RNLD and your BN (Hons) degree.

Year One: Learning Disability Nursing Degree

  • Citizenship and Inclusion
  • Bio-psychosocial Aspects of Health and Well-being
  • Fundamentals of Care and Professional Practice
  • Introduction to Evidence Based Practice

Year Two: Learning Disability Nursing Degree

  • Developing Nursing Skills
  • Learning Disability: Health Across the Lifespan
  • Assessing and Meeting Needs in Partnership

Year Three: Learning Disability Nursing Degree

  • Leadership, Management and Professionalism in Practice
  • Enabling Practices and Therapeutic Relationships
  • Meeting the Complex Needs of People with Learning Disabilities


The learning disabilities nursing degree lasts a minimum of 42 weeks and there’s an equal split between theory and practice.

Each academic year is split into three terms. In term one, you will study in a 10-week block in University (theory) followed by an eight-week block in clinical practice.

In term two through to term eight, you will study six-weeks theory in University followed by six-week block in clinical practice. In term nine, you will spend 12 weeks in clinical practice. You will have practice opportunities across a wide range of healthcare settings, developing key skills that will enhance your employability.

Please note that holidays are fixed and non negotiable for the duration of the nursing course.

You’ll study with students from all fields and other professions, as well as having sessions specific to your field. There’s also the requirement to work with clients and patients from other fields, so you can care for patients with multiple and complex needs. 



You will be assessed using various methods. Whilst on placement you will be assigned a mentor who will assess your achievements of the Practice Learning Outcomes.

The theoretical component, will involve written assignments, case studies, examinations, role play, development of health promotion and communication tools, computer based medication dosage calculations and a clinically based reflective assignment. In your final year you will undertake a dissertation.

The theoretical and placement components each account for 50% each of your overall marks.


The University of South Wales is an NMC Approved Education Institution (AEI). Graduates from our nursing courses can apply to join the NMC professional register and start to practise in the UK.


Supervised placements are an integral part of your learning disabilities nursing qualification. These are in our partner health boards, as well as in the community and independent sector. When you are working with your mentor in clinical practice, you have to work the shift patterns of the clinical area to which you are allocated.

There is also an opportunity to study and practice abroad in a number of countries during the second year of your learning disabilities nurse training. This will enable you to gain an understanding of different health care systems.


As part of your learning disabilities nursing degree, you will learn in our impressive health facilities. Our Clinical Simulation Centre replicates clinical environments for education and training. These include two, four-bedded bays to simulate a hospital setting, dedicated paediatric and maternity facilities, including a special care baby unit, an intensive care environment and an emergency department with a fully equipped ambulance simulator.

There is also a two-bedroom flat (see picture) to simulate providing healthcare in a home environment.

The Centre is used for healthcare education and nurse training, dealing with everything from essential clinical skills to complex, multidisciplinary clinical scenarios.

You’ll use the same equipment you will find in healthcare settings, and work on patient simulators that mimic the body’s reactions to illness, care and treatment.

Featured Lecturer:
Professor Ruth Northway

Professor Ruth Northway

Ruth Northway OBE was the first Professor of Learning Disability Nursing, and the second learning disability nurse to be awarded an RCN Fellowship. 

In 2018 Ruth was honoured with the Chief Nursing Officers’ Award for Lifetime Achievement.

"I came into nursing 35 years ago, not because I wanted to be a nurse but because I enjoyed working with people with learning disabilities and this was the best way that I could do it.

"My subject is very diverse and my work encompasses education, practice and research both specifically in relation to people with learning disabilities and more broadly in relation to nursing and healthcare.

"I also have the opportunity to contribute to policy development at national and UK levels. This diversity helps to maintain my enthusiasm - no two days are the same and there is no time to be bored.

"However I think that my main motivator is that I dislike injustice and whilst many things have improved for people with learning disabilities many still experience injustices both within healthcare and within wider society.

"If I can contribute to changing this situation in a small way via any aspect of my work then that is reason enough for me to keep learning, researching, writing, helping others to increase their knowledge, and working in partnership with people with learning disabilities to improve their lives."


The learning disabilities teaching team includes Professor Ruth Northway, the first professor of learning disability nursing in the world, learning disability nurses Rachel MorganColin Macpherson and Steve Walden.

Nursing and midwifery students enjoy exceptional student support at USW. Our open door policy ensures that there is always someone on hand to assist you when a problem arises and this is something our students really appreciate.

Entry criteria below detail typical offers. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.

Additional requirements include:

Two satisfactory references (one to be added to your UCAS application, and a second written reference to be printed out and brought to the interview).

A Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check (additional cost applies, no offences are considered spent) and a satisfactory medical will be required once an offer has been made. We will contact you closer to your start date with details of how to obtain these.

Applications taken for only one branch of Nursing/Midwifery.

Applicants are required to attend an interview. You will have to demonstrate awareness of the role of nurses and show your commitment to the degree. All interviews take place at our Glyntaff Campus.

Please read this information for nursing applicants for further guidance on how you can meet the entry criteria and advice on the application, interview and decison making process.

This nursing course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel. 

Unfortunately as this nursing course is funded by the NHS and students have to have placements in the local NHS Health Board we are unable to accept applications from overseas (Non EU) students.

Entry criteria below detail typical offers. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.

Typical A-Level Offer

BBB to exclude General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Grade B and BB at A Level to exclude General Studies

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Distinction Merit

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 32 include 17 at Higher Level to include 5 or above in Maths and English at standard level

Typical Access to HE Offer

Science/Maths/Health Care/Nursing Diploma. Must complete 60 credits overall with at least 45 at level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Of the 45 credits at level 3, you will need a minimum of 24 Distinctions, 18 Merits and 3 passes.

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.

Equivalent qualifications considered are Essential Skills Level Two in Communication and Application of Number, or Functional Skills Level Two in English and Maths. (Must be achieved within the last 3 years)




Full-time fees are per year. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

The places on this course are currently funded by the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme. To receive this funding, students will have to commit to working in Wales for two years after completing their nursing or midwifery degree. Any applicant wishing to self-fund should refer to the fees outlined below.

We recommend you read the bursary information on the NHS website and our own Nursing and Midwifery Fees and Funding FAQs before applying.

August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £9000

  • Full-time International: TBC

August 2020 - July 2021 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
DBS * £57.2
This fee includes £44 for the enhanced DBS certificate, the Post Office Administration fee and the online administration fee.
DBS Updating Service £13.0
Whilst optional it is strongly recommended signing up for this service especially if you are likely to have placements each year and wish to pursue a career post University where a DBS check is a requirement. Please note the service has to be joined within 19 days of receipt of your enhanced DBS certificate.

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly


Read before you apply

Admissions statement

Employers are keen to recruit our nursing graduates because they know they are well-prepared, confident, competent and safe practitioners. Learning disability nurses could work in local healthcare trusts, private providers as well as educational, charitable and voluntary providers. Graduates could also work abroad in New Zealand and in the Republic of Ireland.