Postgraduate Taught

Specialist Practice (District Nursing) - PgDip

District nurses make a difference every day to the lives of the people they visit at home or in a homely setting. This course is for Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registered nurses already working in, or wishing to work in the community as a district nurse.

This PgDip in Specialist Practice (District Nursing) course will allow you to gain the level of knowledge and skills required for working in the community in a district nursing capacity.

The course leads to a Specialist Practitioner Qualification with the NMC. It is delivered both full and part-time with start dates in September each year.

Why QMU?

  • Specialist qualification: The course is validated and approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and leads to a Specialist Practitioner Qualification which is recordable on the NMC register.
  • Contemporary, creative and interactive learning approaches: The learning environment will generate an ethos of engagement where students can explore and challenge theories, practices and different sources of knowledge creatively in an atmosphere of high challenge and high support.
  • Staff expertise and support: You will be taught by a team of academic staff who have clinical experience and expertise in district and community nursing, who themselves are SPQ DNs with extensive experience in senior strategic and clinical roles.
  • Our reputation: We have a reputation at QMU for innovative curriculum design, being supportive and responsive to students and extensive online resources. QMU has a long and well-respected history of delivering community nursing education. Relevance: Our conceptualization of person-centredness is consistent with the WHO Framework of ‘integrated people-centred healthcare’.

Specialist Practice (District Nursing) - PgDip: More information and what you will achieve

District nurses provide complex care for people and support for family members. While they are autonomous practitioners, District Nurses work as part of integrated teams to provide holistic person-centred care.

On completion of the course you will be able to, ‘exercise higher levels of judgement discretion and decision-making’ and meet the proficiencies for post-graduate community nurses as defined in the seven platforms of the SPQ Standards.

The course outcomes have been developed with the requirements of the NMC Standards of proficiency for community nursing specialist practice qualifications (NMC 2022), and on successful completion of the course you will be invited by the NMC to record your SPQ DN qualification on their Register.


How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

You can exit with a PgCert or PgDip. To achieve the qualification of SPQ DN, you must successfully complete the PgDip including V300. The PgCert PCP (60 credits) is awarded to students who achieve at least 60 credits, but do not complete the full course. This does not include the V300 qualification.

You will also gain:

  • Independent and/or Supplementary Prescribing for Health Care Professionals (Nursing and Midwifery Council V300)
  • ** Please note that under a recent ruling by the NMC you cannot exit with the V300 qualification if you not successfully complete the Pg Dip SP DN.

You can register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award. You can apply to study any of the modules within this course, except for Evidencing development as a Person-centred Specialist Practitioner module. Contact Muriel Reid for more information on single module study.

Teaching, learning and assessment

The course delivers theoretical and practical learning opportunities with a strong emphasis on self-directed and practice-based learning.

Our teaching, learning and assessment strategy is framed by our core philosophical concepts of personhood, person-centredness, human valuing, healthful relations, human potential and development, and supportive and enabling environments.
Students will be supported to challenge their thinking, values, and beliefs, through the posing of complex activities and questions, and develop resilient and sustainable approaches to their learning and practice in response to these. Assessment strategies will encourage application to practice.


For students undertaking the NMC-recognised specialist practice qualification and registration as a District Nurse, the course has a balance between academic study and practice-based learning and requires placement in an approved practice. To support students in their practice learning environment they will be assigned to a Practice Supervisor and a Practice Assessor. Placement will be negotiated with your supporting NHS area.

Teaching hours and attendance

The course is NMC validated and leads to the Specialist Practitioner Qualification [District Nursing], and therefore the hours for theory and practice are guided by the NMC.

Over the duration of the course you will experience a minimum of 778 hours of theoretic content [taught and individual student effort] and achieve a minimum of 622 hours of learning in practice.

Class sizes

Class sizes vary.

Teaching staff

You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change.


  • Assessing and Planning Care for Persons, People and Populations (20 credits): This module will appeal to healthcare practitioners who wish to advance their clinical competency around person-centred and systematic approaches to holistic assessment. Theoretical underpinnings of history-taking and consultation models are aligned with an understanding of the impact that judgements and decision-making have on how they practice. Students will develop an understanding of the health needs of the population to enable them to plan care in the wider context of their community. Students will then explore the application of this knowledge within their practice context to enhance skills which enable early detection and prevention of disease processes, to support health and wellbeing within a multi-agency context.
  • Using and Creating Evidence to Improve Health and Well-being (20 credits): This module focuses on understanding what constitutes evidence and how this can be harnessed to develop practice. In the module students will develop research skills including critical appraisal, conducting literature reviews, interpreting data, collecting and analysing evidence and applying different methodologies to improve health and well-being of people using and delivering services. The chosen methodologies aim to create healthy workplace cultures: therefore, students will examine what constitutes healthfulness and cultures that promotes flourishing for all.
  • Providing and Evaluating Person-Centred Care within Community Contexts (20 credits): This module will appeal to healthcare practitioners who take a lead role in providing and evaluating person-centred care. Students will learn about and apply a range of frameworks in practice. Emphasis is placed on working in partnership within a multi-agency and multi-professional context but also supporting people that engage with services and their carers to be seen as equal partners in care. Students will explore key concepts within care management to empower people to live well with long term conditions/life-limiting conditions until death. This will be achieved by developing advanced communication skills and learning how to mitigate risk by embracing person-centred leadership, delegation and negotiation strategies. The NMC Standards of Proficiency for Community Nursing Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) (NMC 2022) underpin this module. Students completing the Pg Dip SP DN will be encouraged to apply theory to specialist district nursing practice through a lens of person-centredness.
  • Leading and Managing Person-Centred Specialist Practice (20 credits): This module will appeal to healthcare practitioners who are in or aspire to be in clinical leadership positions. It will begin with an exploration of self as a person and practitioner and encourage envisioning of the leader/manager they aspire to be (leadership identity). Students will then explore theories of management and engage in an evaluation of leadership models to identify key leadership practices. This will help students move beyond traditional approaches to management to become leaders with the capability of developing healthful cultures. Systems and processes that contribute to safe, effective, person-centred care will be examined together with frameworks to enable human flourishing.
  • Independent and Supplementary Prescribing for Health Care Professionals (40 credits)*: The aim of this module is to prepare healthcare professionals to prescribe safely and competently within the context of their professional role as Prescribers. The requirements and outcomes of the module are derived from prescribing standards set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC 2022), The module runs for 26 weeks, including a minimum of documented 90 hours spent learning in practice. Teaching days fall mainly in the first third of the module, but you will engage with QMU throughout the duration. The assessment strategies within the module include a drug calculation and numeracy exam, pharmacology exam, and academic written work. You will participate in a range of teaching and learning experiences both at university and in practice. In keeping with Person-centred philosophy, you are encouraged to participate actively and take responsibility for your own learning. Throughout the module your learning will be supported by our Virtual Learning Environment and our Learning Resource Centre where you can access a wide range of on-line learning materials, books and journals.
  • Evidencing Development as a Person-Centred Specialist Practitioner (non-credit bearing): This module is only available to those students completing the Pg Dip SP DN. The module enables students to evidence their professional development to meet NMC (2022) Standards of Proficiency for Community Nursing Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ). It is a mandatory component of the course.

*Please check the course content and entry requirements for the Independent and Supplementary Prescribing for Health Care Professionals. It is a NMC-approved qualification, requiring an up-to-date Criminal Records Check.

NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting (May 2024) but are subject to change. In the event that modules do change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact to the students. Please check our website for any updates.

Career opportunities

On completion of this course, students are well-equipped to enter their new career as a specialist practitioner district nurse. Job opportunities are good locally and throughout the UK.

District Nursing (Person-Centred Practice) - PgDip: Entry requirements and application information

Entry requirements

All applicants for the PgDip in Specialist Practice (District Nursing) must be on part 1 of the NMC register Adult/Children’s Nursing.

It is recommended that applicants have:

  • been Registered with the NMC for a minimum of one year at time of the programme beginning [NMC requirement for V300 entry];
  • completed a period of experience of sufficient length to have consolidated pre-registration outcomes and to have gained a deeper understanding in relevant professional practice; and
  • have a degree and evidence of study at level 10 or level 11 within the past 5 years, and access to a practice learning environment and Practice Assessor, and Practice Supervisor. This is the responsibility of the sponsoring health board to arrange prior to commencement of the course.

Interview: Interviews will take place in collaboration with partner Health Boards.

Other requirements

A satisfactory criminal records check will be required. Compliance with the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) and mental health legislation for clinical placement and employability in statutory services, for work with children and in other sensitive areas of employment.

Disability/health conditions

If you have a disability, long-term physical or mental health condition, or learning disability, it should not stand in the way of your studying at QMU. However, if you are not sure whether your disability might be a barrier in your studies or in relation to the professional standards, please contact the disability service who will be able to have a conversation with you about reasonable adjustments and supports available to you.

Applying for this course

Applications must be made to both QMU and the NHS Board. Monitor the NHS Jobs website or contact the relevant manager at your Health Board for more information. Once you are notified of successful interview with your sponsoring health board, the deadline for applications to QMU will be shared with you.

Start dates

There are intakes in September each year. Partner NHS Health Boards normally advertise their recruitment opportunities around March – April for the September intakes. Joint interviews are normally held between partner Health Boards and QMU. You will be required to submit an application to both your NHS Health Board and QMU. Please contact Admissions Team for more information.

Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2024/25 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

More information and QMU contacts

Contact Muriel Reid (Programme Leader) or contact Admissions 

Become your best you: study at QMU

Course Overview

On campus at QMU, on placement, and online learning
1 year full time or 18 months part time
Start Date
September 2024
School of Health Sciences
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

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