Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Nursing Studies

Why choose Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We are consistently ranked among the best in the UK for nursing (first in the Guardian University Guide 2017).

  • We offer you the opportunity to customise your learning, studying a course from a university-wide range of options in first year, then choosing honours options in Years 3 and 4 to develop your specialist interests within nursing.

  • When Nursing Studies at the University was founded in 1956 it was the first nursing department in a European university and was led by Elsie Stephenson, later described as Britain's 'nursing messiah of the 20th century'.

Study abroad

Edinburgh is such a special place to study nursing as not only does it have such a fantastic reputation and prestige, but it is also proficient in providing its students with all the support, guidance and resources necessary to make the most of their studies.

Ruth Barker BN (Hons) Nursing Studies graduate
Ruth Barker BN (Hons) Nursing Studies graduate

We have been providing nursing education for 60 years. Our Bachelor of Nursing (BN) honours programme prepares you for a rewarding and varied career in healthcare. On graduation you will be eligible for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council as an Adult Nurse.

We offer clinically based knowledge and practical skills, balanced with theoretical and research-based knowledge, ensuring our graduates are highly effective practitioners by the end of our four-year programme. Nursing students require a strong interest in human relationships, well-developed social and communication skills, and a high degree of empathy. Through academic study and clinical practice, our programme will help you to build on these skills and attributes as well as develop the leadership and analytical skills required to provide excellent nursing care.

You will not only learn about clinical and professional issues in nursing, but also the diverse social and cultural influences on health, research methods, and psychological perspectives on the experience of illness and care.

The opportunity to take two courses from the wider University in Year 1 allows you to broaden your understanding of the world and study a diverse range of topics. Additionally, the honours options in Years 3 and 4 offer you the opportunity to deepen your understanding in specialist areas of your choosing. At the end of Year 3 you will undertake a placement, offering you the opportunity to experience health care in a different culture, or to gain clinical experience in a specialist area of interest in the UK.

Year 1

The first two years provide an introduction to nursing care and theory, and to the sociological and psychological aspects of healthcare.

You will study the compulsory courses Life Sciences (anatomy- and physiology-based), Healthy Communities (investigating the impact of society on health), Professionalism and Evidence and Research. You will also choose two option courses from subjects across the University.

You will gain clinical experience in your first year through community and medical ward placements.

Year 2

As well as progressing your study of life sciences in Nursing Care and Decision Making, Healthy Communities, Professionalism and Evidence and Research, you will also study Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Your placements build on the Year 1 experience with a further community placement, mental health placement and surgical or outpatient experience.

Year 3

You will continue to deepen your study of Professionalism and Evidence and Research, as well as studying Management of Transitions which focuses on care of the older person and Cultural Diversity and Care: Immersion Experience which includes the clinical placement. You will also choose two honours option courses.

Clinical experience includes care of the older person, and a clinical experience linked to one of your honours options. You will also organise a clinical placement either in the UK or abroad.

Year 4

You will choose a further two honours options, study Professionalism 4 and complete your dissertation.

Your clinical practice will include an honours-linked placement and a 12-week placement consolidating your clinical competence.

Are there additional costs?

Expenses for travel to and from clinical placement can be reclaimed if you are eligible for Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) funding. For those students who are not eligible for SAAS funding, these costs must be borne personally.

In Year 3 there is an opportunity to undertake a single semester exchange with La Trobe University, Australia for which you will be liable for visa, immunisation, travel and living costs. In Year 3, you will also undertake an elective clinical placement, either abroad or elsewhere in the UK. All visa, immunisation, travel and living costs associated with this placement will be borne by you.

Nursing studies students are required to join Disclosure Scotland's Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme but you are not expected to pay for your registration.

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in the Central Area of the University campus. You will have access to teaching and learning facilities, including libraries and computer labs. Clinical skills teaching takes place at the Chancellor’s Building Clinical Skills Centre, at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh


Clinical practice placements are provided by NHS Lothian and NHS Borders. You should expect to be placed across these two health boards during your programme. You will work with a trained mentor on placement.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to complete placements abroad in Year 3. We also ran a semester long exchange with an Australian university for the first time in 2016.

How will I learn?

All nursing programmes are 50 per cent theory and 50 per cent practice. The courses you take in this programme have both theoretical and clinical practice elements.

You will learn through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, clinical skills sessions, problem-based learning, reflective diaries, group work and computer-assisted learning. You will also undertake learning in practice learning environments during clinical placements in each year.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by coursework, multimedia presentations, exams and clinical practice profiles.

This programme has progression points at the end of each academic year where students must demonstrate clinical competence as well as academic excellence. This is in line with the Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards for Nurse Education 2010.

Career prospects are excellent for Nursing Studies graduates from the University of Edinburgh.

Our graduates have gone into careers in a range of clinical settings in both community and hospital contexts, as well as voluntary sector organisations, specialising in intensive care, oncology, theatres and accident and emergency, for example. They have also gone on to develop careers in higher education, research, management and policy development.

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