Nursing - Specialist Mental Health Nursing Practice

Course Outline
This course places a strong emphasis on how mental health nurses can most effectively translate knowledge and skills into practice. It invites and challenges mental health nurses to think critically and creatively about how they, and their organisations work with people who are experiencing mental health difficulties. The course is organised within the parameters of the five roles of the clinical nurse specialist and is underpinned by the principles and values of recovery. The modules in this course focus on developing proficiency in research, ethics, the application of advanced assessment skills, a range of psycho-social interventions and the principles of leadership, management and practice development. The course is delivered using an innovative blended learning model which includes online and face-to-face teaching and learning. This will facilitate mental health nurses in engaging with lifelong personal and professional development through flexible modes of learning.

Additional Teaching Mode Information
All students will be registered full time for a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing in the first year. If a student wishes to progress to the masters they will be registered for the 2nd year part time. Part-time 2 years by day. Contact hours for both years are part-time and are detailed in the Course Details section.

All postgraduate programmes contain some element of blended learning. This means that modules are delivered on campus with face-to-face contact with lectures (teaching and learning strategies include lectures, workshops, seminars and tutorials) in combination with some online content delivery using our virtual learning environment Canvas (teaching and learning strategies include module study guides, discussion boards, audio/visual resources and online assessments/activities).

Prior to commencing the course each student taking a blended module will be provided with an orientation to Canvas and training on how to use the online technology within the course. IT support will be given to students throughout the duration of the course.

Why Choose This Course
The course offers qualified psychiatric nurses the opportunity to engage with their practice in the context of many challenges faced in the areas of changes in mental service delivery (moving to a recovery oriented service), reduced resources, complex ethical considerations, and the ongoing debate about the nature of human distress and responses to it. The course is taught and facilitated by experienced practitioners, by people with self-experience and by carers/family members.

Subjects taught

Pathway 5: Specialist Mental Health Nursing Practice consists of:
Year 1: six modules (60 credits: 1 x 15 credits; 3 x 10 credits; 3 x 5 credits)
Year 2: two modules (1 x 10 credits and 1 x 20 credits).
Students can exit after year 1 with a Postgraduate Diploma.

Year 1 (60 credits)

Core modules:

NU6005 Evidence Based Practice for Healthcare Professionals (10 credits)
NU6053 Professional, Ethical, and Legal Decision-Making in Specialist Practice (5 credits)
Specialist modules:

NU6148 Clinical Practice in Specialist Mental Health Nursing I (5 credits)
NU6149 Clinical Practice in Specialist Mental Health Nursing II (5 credits)
NU6080 Leadership, Management & Practice Development in Specialist Mental Health Nursing (10 credits)
NU6172 Therapeutic engagement, advanced assessment skills, & clinical decision making in specialist mental health nursing practice (15 credits)
NU6173 Psychosocial and recovery-focused approaches in specialist mental health nursing practice (10 credits)
Year 2 (30 credits)

Core modules:

MH6014 Advanced Research Methods for Healthcare Professionals (10 credits)
NU6073 Dissertation (20 credits)
For further information see our postgraduate calendar.

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

-provide specialist psychiatric nursing care to people with mental health difficulties (and, where applicable, their carers) in a variety of settings
-contribute to the development of innovative, effective and evidence-based services for people experiencing mental health difficulties
-collaborate with service users, carers and members of the multi-disciplinary team in the planning, management and delivery of effective mental health care.

Entry requirements

There are 7 clinical pathways to the degree of Masters in Nursing, all of which have an exit route available for the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing. The pathways to degree of Masters including Postgraduate Diploma exit route are all available to view in the College Calendar.


Applicants for this MSc in Nursing, including Postgraduate Diploma exit route, should normally:

Hold active registration on a division of the professional register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland or be eligible for such registration as required for individual pathways. For the Specialist Mental Health Nursing Practice Pathway, applicants must be Registered Psychiatric Nurses;

Have clinical practice experience (and support structures, if applicable) as required for individual pathways. For the Specialist Mental Health Nursing Practice Pathway, applicants must have a minimum of six months of post-registration experience (excluding courses) and at least six months experience in the speciality pathway applied for;

Applicants must provide written evidence of support from their Director of Nursing/equivalent authorised Nurse Manager stating:
(a) The applicant will be working in the relevant specialist area for the duration of the programme for a minimum of 19.5 hours a week
(b) They will be released from practice to attend the programme requirements
(c) A Clinical Preceptor and/or Clinical Facilitator can support learning in the specialist area of practice for the duration of the programme.

Note: In exceptional circumstances, applicants who do not fulfil the entry requirements may be recommended for entry to the programme under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) following a review of their individual qualifications and experience by the programme committee. Such applicants may be invited for interview to satisfy the selection committee of their suitability for the programme. Admission of such applicants will be subject to the approval of the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements available online.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements, please find our grades comparison by country online.

International/non-EU applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file online.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Application dates

Closing Date: 3 June 2022.

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course
Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to two courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online
Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the online application portal. Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a non-refundable €50 application fee for all courses apart from the Education - Professional Master of Education - (Secondary School/Post-Primary Teacher Training) which has a €100 application fee.

Applicants for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Nursing must apply on the PAC website when the programme opens for applications.

3. Gather Supporting Documents
Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to the online application portal in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC
Any supplementary items requested for your course.
Please log into the online application portal for more details.

4. Application processing timeline
Our online application portal opens for applications for most courses in early November of each year. Check specific course details.

5. Rounds
For courses that are in the rounds system (Irish and EU applicants), please check the rounds closing dates here.

Questions on how to apply?
Please use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Deferrals are not permitted on this course.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)
Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.
In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning and professional training relevant to this programme.

Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.
Please upload certification of current registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

Please upload evidence of Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification.
All applicants must also submit a signed Declaration Form to be completed by the Director of Nursing/Midwifery/Equivalent Authorised Manager. This form is downloadable online: Declaration Form Nursing Pathways

Additional Information
For students who have exited this programme with the award of postgraduate diploma and wish to return to complete the Masters within 5 years, please apply for CKX13, MSc in Nursing Studies Direct Entry Year 2.

Assessment Info

Methods of assessment are varied, including presentations, case studies, reflective assignments and assessment of competencies at clinical nurse specialist level. There are no written examinations.


2 Years - PG Diploma (Year 1, Full-time); Masters (Year 2, Part-time).

Enrolment dates

Start Date Late August 2020

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
This course will give registered psychiatric nurses the knowledge and skills to work within the scope of practice of a clinical nurse specialist in all mental health service settings.

More details
  • Qualification letters

    PG Dip/MSc

  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Diploma (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider