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BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be January 2020, after which it will no longer be available to new students. You must complete your study by 31 December 2025. Our new BSc (Honours) Nursing (R39) will be available from Autumn 2020, subject to approval by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us or book a call back.

If you would like to train to become a nurse (adult nursing) and are already working as a healthcare support worker/healthcare assistant, this unique practice-based qualification is for you. It enables you to stay in work while you study – provided you have the support of your employer and suitable practice can be agreed. On successful completion of your studies, you’ll be eligible to apply for registration as a qualified nurse.

Key features of the course

  • Delivers a balance of theory and practice through practice-based and distance learning
  • Develops effective evidence-based nursing practice and underpinning knowledge in an inter-professional and interdisciplinary environment
  • Confers eligibility to enter the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) professional register on successful attainment of the degree
  • Allows you to continue to work part time for your employer whilst studying to become a nurse.

Course Summary



  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Full time – 4 years
Time limit – usually 7 years
Study method
Distance learning
& Practice-based learning  
Practice-based learning is learning delivered in partnership with employers to support their staff development aims.

We’ve blended our unique distance learning approach with learning undertaken in your workplace:


  • A flexible model with the potential to earn as you learn.
  • Develop highly relevant skills and knowledge to advance your career.
  • Allows employers to support employees to develop within the organisation.
  • Recognises both academic achievement and attainment of work competencies.
  • Provides a setting for the assessment of professional competencies, where this is a requirement for your qualification.

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a practice-based nursing module and study this alongside an introductory  theory module.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study the second practice-based nursing module alongside two theory modules.
  • Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll study the third practice-based nursing module and your final theory module.

Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 provides you with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to reach progression point 1 (NMC requirement). You’ll examine the experience of giving and receiving care in a wide range of healthcare settings, and explore how to maintain the relevance of your practice in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2 you'll study human biology, and explore caring for people with acute and long term conditions, giving end of life care and promoting healthy lifestyles – engaging critically with a range of perspectives. 

Stage 3 (120 credits)

Stage 3 develops the understanding and skills you need to manage, innovate, lead and critically review practice; contribute to the work of the multidisciplinary team; and ensure that service users receive compassionate, person-centred and evidence-based care.
You'll study both of the following:
Exploring practice (KYN316)60
Preparing for graduate practice (KYN317)60

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.


We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work (nursing)
  • finding external/third party material online
  • in addition to the above, the regulatory body for the nursing programme (the NMC) has guidance on health and disability relating to fitness for professional practice.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have previously studied either nursing, or a closely related subject at the higher education level within the last 5 years, you may be eligible to apply for credit transfer towards this degree.

Before you consider applying for credit transfer, you need to contact the Student Recruitment Team who will refer you for a more detailed discussion with a member of the nursing team in your location.

An application for credit transfer needs to be made once you have been advised that it is appropriate for you to apply for a place on the nursing programme. At the very latest, you need to apply for credit transfer 10 weeks before registration closes.

Once you have discussed the feasibility of making a credit transfer application, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

Please note that this qualification is available in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It may be possible to study the OU nursing programme in Wales but interested individuals need to check with their Health Board.

Employer partnership

The University offers this practice-based qualification in association with partnering employers. You must be working in healthcare practice in a caring role where registered nurse mentors are available. You will need to discuss the opportunity with your employer and with a member of the nursing academic team in your location. 

Education and personal attributes

Currently the programme entry requirements include:
  • literacy (Functional skills level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in English)
  • numeracy (Functional skills level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in Maths)
  • good character, evidenced through self-declaration, an enhanced criminal record disclosure, and two references – one of which must be from your current employer
  • good health, evidenced through self-declaration of health status, occupational health screening, review of previous sickness and absence record, and two references – one of which must be from your current employer
  • Successful completion of interview and assessment of your personal values with the nursing requirements for your health education body

If you think you meet the criteria you’ll need to speak to a member of the nursing academic team in your location. Spaces are limited and the timeline for your application will depend on where you and your employer are in terms of readiness to join / support the programme. See How to apply to find out more.

Preparing for study with an Access module

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:

  • a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)300 303 0529 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. 

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

The total cost of your qualification will be £27,000* based on our current fees.

  • Practice-based modules cost £5,500    
  • Theory modules (60 credits) cost £3,500
  • Theory modules (30 credits) cost £1,750

*The fee information provided here is valid for new students starting the programme after 1 August 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access. If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options include Full-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Full-time Tuition Fee Loans

As a student on the Pre-Registration Nursing Programme you may need to apply for a Full-Time Loan of £9,000 per year. You pay nothing up front and only start to repay a Full-Time Tuition Fee Loan when you’re earning over the income threshold, currently £25,000. Repayments are linked to your income to ensure they’re affordable, and are deducted automatically by your employer through the UK tax system. On a salary of £27,000, for example, repayments would be £15 a month.

If you think a Full-Time Tuition Fee Loan is right for you, find out How to apply for a loan.

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments. You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer Sponsorship

It may be possible for you to secure sponsorship from your employer who will cover your tuition fees.

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card, and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

How to apply

If you have the support of your employer and meet the requirements on the ‘Entry requirements’ tab then you can apply to study. Your employer must contact us to discuss whether it will be possible to deliver the programme in partnership and what preparations must be made to support students. Please note not all employer contexts are suitable for the study of this qualification.

The pre-registration nursing programme is not available in all areas although where it is not currently available it may be possible to introduce the programme if there is sufficient demand.

Application timeline

The timeline for your application may vary, depending on where you and your employer are in terms of readiness to join / support the programme. The following table offers an indication of the typical timeline for recruitment of students where it has been established that the employer is ready to support students, or where the programme is already in place:

Oct–Dec Presentation to prospective students,employers and mentors
Dec–Jan Submission of application forms, including discussion task for service user review
Feb–Mar Shortlisting of applications and invitation to interview
Mar–May Interviews take place and conditional offers made to successful candidates
May–Jul Submission of completed registration forms and Occupational Health / DBS checks undertaken

Registration in August for study starting in September subject to satisfactory completion of pre-registration checks.

If you are using a Tuition Fee Loan to pay for your studies, you will need to have your loan in place before your registration can be completed. Failure to do so may mean you lose your place.

If you’re interested in this qualification and meet the entry requirements above, or if you are an employer looking to develop your staff, please contact us.

Skills for career development

In addition to meeting the NMC competencies the practice learning part of this degree develops skills that are highly transferable in the labour market – including critical analysis, numeracy, literacy, communication, team working, problem solving/solution finding, ICT proficiency, leadership, management and innovation.

Career relevance

The learning outcomes for this degree course have been mapped to (and fully comply with) the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards for pre-registration nursing programmes, and to subject benchmarking statements for Nursing. On successful completion of your studies, you can apply to the NMC for registration as a qualified nurse (adult nursing).


On graduating from the BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing, you’ll be eligible to apply for entry to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This will include online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:

  • Staff nurse
  • Senior staff nurse
  • Ward manager
  • Community nurse
  • District nurse
  • Community team leader
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Practice nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Practice educator
  • Practice development nurse
  • Clinical nurse researcher
  • Nurse lecturer 

Register for this course

Please see Entry requirements to register for this course as online registration is not available.

Applications are subject to the availability of suitable placements and your employer entering into a formal partnership with The OU for delivery of the qualification.

The next start date is February 2020. Applications must be received at least 6 months before the course starts.

Download a prospectus

Our prospectuses are your essential guide to studying with us, covering courses, fees and funding, career prospects and more.

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