Nursing - Professional Nursing - Learning Disabilities

The MSc Professional Nursing programme will enable you to graduate with a Masters from Queen’s University Belfast and you will be eligible to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities (RNLD).

Learning disabilities nurses work with children, adults and older adults with learning disabilities and their families. Learning disabilities nurses support people to improve their health and wellbeing and be as independent as possible. This is to enable and support them to live rich and fulfilling lives to be part of the communities in which they live.

Career opportunities are diverse and varied, and this programme of studies enables learning disabilities nurses to work in a range of care and support services, including child health, primary and acute care, hospitals, day and respite services, residential services, nursing homes, forensic and prison services, care of older people and end-of-life and palliative care services.

The roles undertaken by learning disabilities nurses provides rewarding, exciting and challenging career opportunities both locally and internationally. Within your learning disabilities nursing role, you will work with a diverse range of professions including doctors, clinical psychologists, therapists, and social workers to ensure that people with learning disabilities and their families receive the supports they require.

The learning disabilities nursing programme prepares students with the knowledge, skills, attributes necessary to provide person and family centred care and support which is safe and effective. As a learning disabilities nurse you will become skilled at supporting people with learning disabilities and their families in all aspects of their life. Leadership will be demonstrated through a commitment to professional values and evidence-based practice to improve health, outcomes for individuals, families, and wider communities.

Our highly experienced and motivated and committed academic lecturers are actively engaged in areas of speciality practice. Our personal tutor and link lecturer systems ensures that students are fully supported throughout their learning journey. The School of Nursing and Midwifery was awarded the Best Student Experience in 2021 Student Nursing Times Awards and the Learning Disabilities Nursing programme was rated 3rd highest by students across universities in the UK.

You will learn in our state-of-the-art clinical skills and simulation suite and complete practice placements in a range of settings. The course is taught by experts in learning disability nursing, who will support you in becoming a caring, compassionate professional, working in partnership with people, families, and communities. Our focus on interdisciplinary learning throughout the two-year course will enrich your experience and help prepare you for the reality of professional practice.

This programme is fully funded by the Department of Health for Home students; eligible students may be able to access full fees and a bursary. Students on this programme are ineligible to apply for funding from the Student Loans Company. The programme is not available as a part time programme.

If you have previously commenced or completed a DoH paid place/bursary for a pre-registration nursing, midwifery or AHP course in Northern Ireland you may not be eligible for a funded place on this programme.

In 2024 we are unable to offer this programme to students who are not eligible for a funded place, which will include GB and overseas students.

Subjects taught

Year 1
Core Modules
• Essential Pharmacology (10 credits)
• Safe Medicate 2 - Learning Disabilities (0 credits)
• Public Health and Supporting People with Chronic Health Care Needs (20 credits)
• Foundations of Learning Disabilities Nursing (20 credits)
• Applied Life Science (20 credits)
• Quality Improvement in an Inter-professional Context - Part A (0 credits)
• Practice Learning 1 - Learning Disabilities Nursing (0 credits)
• Professionalism, Caring and Communication in Nursing (20 credits)

Year 2
Core Modules
• Practice Learning 2 - LD (0 credits)
• Managing Complexity in LD (20 credits)
• Quality Improvement in an Inter-professional Context - Part B (60 credits)
• Developing Leadership and Professionalism (20 credits)
• Safe Medicate 3 - Learning Disabilities (0 credits)

Course Structure
The two year programme will comprise of 50% academic modules and 50% in practice learning. All modules are listed below.

Academic Modules
Students will be required to complete all compulsory modules, plus a Placement Portfolio to successfully complete this programme.

Entry requirements

All applicants must normally have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 to include English Language, Mathematics and a Science subject (i.e. Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Double Award Science or Single Award Science) or equivalent qualifications acceptable to the University. GCSE Applied Science is not acceptable in lieu of GCSE Science. Essential Skills, Level 2 in Application of Number is not acceptable in lieu of GCSE Mathematics grade C/4. (Qualified nurses and midwives may be considered to have met the GCSE entry requirements).

In addition to the GCSE requirements, or acceptable equivalent, all applicants must have an Honours degree in any subject with an award of 2.1 or above. Candidates with an Honours degree in any subject with an award of 2.2 will be considered on a case by case basis.

Applicants with a 3rd Class Honours degree or Ordinary degree would be deemed to hold the equivalent academic standing of an Honours degree, provided they hold additional post graduate qualifications in a health and social care related field alongside relevant healthcare experience. These applicants will be assessed through the provision of certificates and within the GEMS Portfolio completed as part of the admissions criteria for admission to the programme. All applicants applying via this entry route must meet the GCSE (or acceptable equivalent) requirements above.

Nurses who have graduated with a BSc (Ordinary) in Nursing or equivalent, would be deemed to hold the equivalent academic standing of a BSc (Honours) with a minimum of one year's practice in nursing. N.B. This would not apply to students who took a BSc (Ord) as an exit degree due to part failure of their programme. All applicants applying via this entry route must meet the GCSE (or acceptable equivalent) requirements above.

Students who have a first degree in nursing and who are registered with the NMC will be eligible to apply for a field of practice in which they are currently not registered.

Applicants are required to complete a portfolio of evidence as part of their application.

Applicants who satisfy the academic and portfolio requirements or will be able to do so by 31st August 2024, will be shortlisted for interview. Please submit your portfolio as soon as possible and preferably at time of application. Qualified nurses and midwives will be considered to have met the portfolio condition and will not be required to submit a portfolio to be considered for interview. However, applicants with a BSc (Ordinary) in Nursing will be required to complete a portfolio for RPL purposes.

Interviews will normally take place in early summer and will evaluate the candidate's experience of healthcare, or other relevant direct care employment, paid or voluntary, as well as the skills, knowledge and attitudes expected of graduates.

In 2024 we are unable to offer this programme to students who are not eligible for a funded place, which will include GB and overseas students. In addition, students who have already received Department of Health funding for pre-registration Nursing, Midwifery or AHP courses in Northern Ireland will not be eligible to join this programme.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit for more information.

Application dates

Closing date for applications: Monday 1st April 2024 at 12 noon. If places are still available after this date, late applications may be considered.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.


2 years (Full Time).

Contact Teaching Hours
Medium Group Teaching
25 (hours maximum)
This is a full time programme using blended learning. Students should be available to either attend class or complete all online elements across the week. 100% attendance is required for face to face teaching.

Personal Study
0 (hours maximum)
Students will be expected to prepare for classes and develop assignments during unscheduled time.

Enrolment dates

Entry Year: 2024/25

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
Employment after the Course
Graduates of this programme will have the opportunity to quickly gain access to higher level and management roles, building an exceptional career from the very beginning.

Professional Opportunities
Further study is also an option open to Nursing graduates, and some may choose to follow a research pathway. There is a range of PhD Nursing opportunities available within the School; click here for more information.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider