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The BSc (Hons) / Graduate Diploma / PG Diploma in Specialist Practice in Nursing degree programme can be completed in one academic year as a full-time course of study or over two academic years as a part-time course of study.  This is a Nursing and Midwifery Council validated programme and recordable qualification.

Programme Aim

The degree programme aims to enable nurses not only to attain the competency and expertise to provide care as specialist practitioners, as defined by the NMC (2001), but also, by virtue of their participation in more advanced professional and academic study, to develop their capabilities as leaders, innovators and clinical supervisors.

Programme Outline

This degree programme comprises six modules and a clinical component at Degree Level (Level 3) or Postgraduate Level (Level 7); three core modules and three specialist specific modules with a clinical component that incorporates the clinical competencies required or a specialist practitioner (NMC,2001).


Full–time students should normally complete six modules and the clinical component in one academic year (three modules in each semester). Part-time students should normally complete six modules and the clinical component over two academic years (three modules in each academic year).

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold a current and recognised professional qualification in nursing and have a minimum of one year’s post registration experience specific to the area of specialist practice being undertaken.

Candidates must have 120 CATs points at Level 1 and 120 CATs points at Level 2 for entry to Level 3 study.  Candidates who already hold a degree in nursing or other relevant subject will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Specialist Practice in Nursing.

Applicants who do not meet the entry requirements should contact the programme co-ordinator for advice.

Practice Placements

Specialist Practice programmes by definition must have a clinical placement requirement in order to meet the NMC requirements for recording the specialist practice qualification. The student must be scheduled to work a minimum of 75 days practice in the appropriate area supervised by a sign off mentor.  In the event of students working in developing specialist units, it may be necessary for them to have placements outwith their Trust, in order to enable achievement of the learning outcomes. The duration of such external placements will be dependent upon the clinical experience currently available and that which they have already attained in their employing Trust.

Sign Off Mentor

The student must have an identified and agreed sign off mentor prior to commencing the programme, who will be required to undertake a half-day study course in preparation for the role. The sign off mentor will be selected by the Practice Educator within the Trust, following discussions with their nurse manager and the link lecturer or course director.

Programme Pathways

The following specialist practice pathways, some of which may contain optional modules, are offered

Compulsory modules common to all the pathways are:

  • Assessment and Advanced Communication SPR3070/7067
  • Leading and Facilitating SPR 3041/7041
  • Applied Research Methods SPN 3001 or Research Development in Clinical Practice NUR7002


• Anaesthetic Nursing (not running in academic year 2019-2020)

Cancer Care - Oncology 

• Cardiology Nursing (not running in academic year 2019-2020)

Nursing Care for Older People

• Respiratory Nursing (not running in academic year 2019-2020)


How to apply

This is only available through commissioned activity with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.  Applications need to be made through employers.  For further information please contact