A variety of higher education institutions offer students pre registration nursing degree courses in mental health, child, adult and learning disabilities. This page will give students a overview of the content and length of these degrees and also of the academic and professional options available to them in the various branches of nursing.

Nursing degree overview
Degree programmes are integrated programmes that include both academic study and supervised nursing practice in hospital and community settings. They are roughly split, with 50% theoretical knowledge and 50% clinical placements. Courses typically begin with a common foundation programme (CFP) which give students a basic introduction to the field of nursing and also focus on cultivating their caring, communication and observational skills. After completing their CFP (which lasts 12 months) students can them study their own chosen specialist fields. Other key points are;

  • Many of the courses are modular.
  • Practice-based learning is central to a nurses training, with the practical placements taking place in the second and third years.

Depending on the institution and the courses you take, course completion can lead to any of the following;

  • Bachelor of Nursing (BNurs)
  • Nursing Diploma.

Nursing degree assessment
Assessment of coursework, projects and portfolios is continuous throughout the programme. Typically in your third semester, in your practice settings you will be assessed by a mentor.

Entry and admission
Universities and training providers want to be confident that any student who want to undertakes a course has the required academic ability to cope with the course demands. Apart from this A levels are preferred but not essential, as GCSE with grades above C are also acceptable.

  • The vast majority of universities do not interview prospective candidates.
  • Previous experience of working within a health care setting is desirable (but not essential)

Typical entry requirements are

  • 5 GCSEs at C grade or above to include English, Maths and preferably a science subject.
  • NVQ Level 3 Health and Social Care.

Nursing degree structure and typical course content
Students will be expected to attend lectures, seminars and discussions. When undertaking your placement mentors will support you, whilst tutors and the academic team will support you in your coursework.

Year 1 modules
Introduction to the theoretical basis for nursing.
Pharmacology and anatomy & physiology.
Learning a combination of social work with mental health or learning disability nursing.
Communication in health and social care.

Year 2 modules
Behavioural sciences related to nursing and healthcare, including primary care, continuing care, secondary care.
Public health, and integrated nursing.
Clinical placements.
Managing care.
Diverse perspective on mental health.
Human biology.
Sociology and society.

Year 3 modules
Law and ethics.
Promoting public health.
The politics of nursing
Advanced management skills.
Clinical placements.

A nursing degree will teach students
Problem solving
Strong knowledge of patient care.
Accident and emergency
School nursing
Health visiting

How long does the degree course last
Courses are three years in length, with the first year taken up by the common foundation programme (CFP). However occasionally some programmes can last four years.

Career relevancy
Currently to become a registered nurse and work in the NHS or elsewhere you will need to have a diploma or degree in nursing. However from September 2013 onwards new students wanting to become a nurse will have to study for a degree. This means that from that date all nursing courses will be degree based.

Once you have successfully completed your course you can then register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Due to the policy of the government and the needs of the health service employment prospects for graduate nurses are very good. Over 95% of nursing graduates from higher institutions go straight into jobs.

Nurses do not just work in NHS hospitals, there are opportunities for them to work in other healthcare setting such as;

  • GP surgeries
  • nursing and residential homes
  • occupational health services
  • pharmaceutical industry

Nursing degree personal statement
Below is a personal statement written by one of our writers. You can use this example to gain an idea of how to structure and put together your own one. You are strongly advised not to copy or plagiarise it, instead use it as a resource to inspire your own creative writing.


“My ambition from secondary school onwards has always been to become a practising nurse who makes a real and positive change to peoples lives. I have been attracted to the profession for two main reasons, firstly I’ve always had a interest in caring for people and liked the thought of working in a large hospital environment where I can be involved in the hands on medical treatment of patients. Secondly because I know its a financially rewarding and secure career where there are many employment opportunities for graduates in both the NHS and private sectors.

Although I understand that nursing can be a very demanding profession I feel it can also be a very satisfying one where you have the chance to enhance people’s lives during their times of need. After all the hard work I put into my degree course and training I look forward to being rewarded with a exciting career that will give me excellent benefits, flexible working practices and plenty of scope for progression.

I’m a sociable person and feel that I have the correct mental attitude, personality and social skills which are required to communicate effectively with patients of all ages and backgrounds. Through my recent work placement I have experienced the stresses and strains of working in a variety of healthcare settings and I was told by my peers that I had coped quiet well with them. It was over the summer months that I was fortunate enough to have obtained a placement at a local health centre where I shadowed professional nurses and assisted them in minor non medical ways. During this period I was mentored and got to see a vast range of patients in a multitude of different settings including their homes. This real live experience in a clinical practise gave me a new perspective on the medical sector and confirmed to me that I had made the right career choice.

Right now I feel that I am ready to enrol on a degree course and have spent the last few weeks looking for one that will give me the skills needed to work in the modern health service. I want to learn nursing from both a clinical and business perspective and I feel your university course is best positioned to offer me this.”

Typical university questions

Why do you want to become a nurse?


  • I have always wanted to work in a community setting where I get to meet people face to face.
  • To achieve a ambition I have had since childhood.
  • For graduates there are many lifelong career opportunities both here and abroad, UK trained nurses are also highly valued throughout the world and there are many employment to work overseas.



Online courses
Online nursing degree

Student resources
Essay writing
Graduate internships
Introduction to graduate fasttrack schemes
Revision timetable
Revision tips
Student accommodation
Student loan company
Study skills
UCAS personal statement
University interview questions
University courses

University resources
Degree abbreviations
Degree classification 
Online degree courses 

Links to other relevant university degree courses
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Pharmacy degree
Physiotherapy degree courses

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