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District Nursing


Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery

Approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council

This innovative Community Specialist Practice course is aimed at community nurses wishing to prepare for (or consolidate) a leadership role.

It will strengthen your leadership attributes in order to prepare you for the changing face of community nursing. You will become a skillful community specialist practitioner, able to lead and bring about change in your practice environments.

If you successfully fulfill the required criteria you can qualify for the relevant NMC Community Specialist Practitioner (CSP) Award.

The course is centred on practice and you will spend a large amount of time in the practice environment. You will have a practice teacher who will support the development of your professional practice.

This course is not available to students classed as International for fees purposes.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus / Headington Campus, Marston Road site

Course length

  • Full time: 52 weeks full time
  • Part time: 104 weeks

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will gain an NMC Community Specialist Practitioner (CSP) Award.
  • This course is an 'opportunity to stop, look at practice, critically analyse, develop self; this is a recognised specialist qualification, there is a national focus for team leaders to have this qualification'. Gabbie Parham, Senior Matron for community Nursing (Oxford Health)
  • We will prepare and support you to develop and become a leading expert practitioner in your area of community practice.
  • Our lecturers are experienced in their specialist practice areas and maintain excellent practice links with those areas locally and across the region.
  • We have well-established links with colleagues, organisations and institutions at national and international levels that ensure that the curriculum reflects current practice issues.

Professional accreditation

This course meets the requirements of a Community Specialist Practitioner Award, and is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). 

Please note that NMC approval is subject to review and can be withdrawn at any time.

The community environments where health care is offered are undergoing great change. Achieving effective practice in these settings requires highly dynamic and flexible practitioners who can bring about positive change in relation to their community specialist practice.

For a service to be effective, it must be based upon ongoing assessment, planning and evaluation and involve an effective partnership between the patient/client, their carer, their family members and relevant population groups. This requires interdisciplinary, interprofessional and inter-agency collaboration. The importance of working collaboratively is therefore a central philosophy within the CSP PGDip course we offer.

The PGDip in District Nursing (DN) comprises six modules. You will be sponsored or seconded to study full-time over a period of 12 months, or two years part-time.

The modules are:

  • Foundations of Community Specialist Practice 1 (DN) is a practice-based module, which enables you to develop an in-depth systematic understanding of the knowledge and skills in primary care nursing in relation to DN practice.
  • Leadership in Health and Social Care will help you develop and apply the knowledge and conceptual and practice skills needed to be an effective leader within health and social care environments, in both the public and private sectors.
  • Advance History Taking and Assessment this single, level 7 practice-focused module provides students with the opportunity to develop their critical thinking through enhanced knowledge and skills in taking a comprehensive patient history and performing a thorough physical and psychosocial assessment.  Students will be expected to demonstrate analysis and evaluation through their assessment skills, and ability to accurately communicate a patient / client health history and examination findings using appropriate terminology, reporting deviations from normal in a succinct manner to colleagues within the multidisciplinary team.
  • Foundations of Community Specialist Practice 2 (DN) will enable you to demonstrate originality and initiative in the consolidation of your community specialist practice knowledge and skills. You are based in a practice placement which enables you to develop and extend your specialist practice leadership skills in DN practice and to discuss practice issues with colleagues and peers.
  • Non-Medical Prescribing (V300) incorporates the learning outcomes specified by the NMC for registration to allow practitioners to prescribe from the Nurse Prescribers’ Formulary for Community Practitioners.
  • Foundations of Community Specialist Practice 3 (DN) is a practice-based module which aims to consolidate your knowledge and practice experience in a single placement area - a minimum of 50 days will be spent in the practice setting in this final element of the course. You will build on your leadership skills in taking a lead role in managing a caseload of families. 

Optional modules include:

  • Work-Based Learning is a practice-focused single module which will enable integration and consolidation of your specialist community knowledge and skills. You will work on a project based on the principles of work-based learning.
  • Diagnostic reasoning in practice This is a theory-based module.  The aim is to enable students to critically appraise knowledge and evidence related to diagnostic tools used within practice.  The development of this knowledge will enable the student to provide a theoretical base from which to make efficient and effective decisions in relation to patients/clients health care needs, and their management. 
  • Care of the Older Person With Frailty This double level 7 practice module will provide students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of the complexity of assessment, planning, delivery and evaluation of care relevant to the older person with frailty in a variety of care environments including the home, community settings and hospital. Students will gain practical experience of caring for these patients in a variety of settings. The module will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and logically about issues pertinent to the acute care of the older person with frailty.
  • Advance Health promotion will explore practical aspects of health promotion, including how to develop strategic and action plans.
  • Care of the Deteriorating or Acutely Unwell Adult This single level 7 practice related module provides students with the opportunity to develop a critical problem solving approach to the assessment and management of the deteriorating and acutely unwell adult. This module will enhance the students’ assessment skills enabling them to recognise changes in a patients’ clinical condition and communicate findings to colleagues in the multidisciplinary team. It will examine the management of these patients while implementing human factors principles to improve patient safety. 
  • Advanced Symptom Management focuses on the development of assessment skills in the context of life-threatening illness, and on the management of distressing symptoms in palliative care.
  • Advanced Research Design equips students with the skills to find, appraise and utilise research, as well as plan and design a piece of research work. It helps students define a suitable research question and use this as a basis for identifying appropriate research methodologies for a small scale research project or dissertation. Students will gain the skills needed to plan and outline a rationale for a piece of primary research, secondary analysis, literature review or audit. This module focuses on research as a part of a body of evidence used for health and social care practice, and provides an overview of methodologies and methods commonly used in health and social care policies and working environments.


Teaching and learning

The teaching, learning and assessment strategies which underpin the courses reflect their interprofessional, client-centred and practice-focused approach.

We encourage group work and discussions so that you can develop new skills, knowledge and experience. Lively debates develop within the sessions and you will be able to discuss the relevant issues with others from different primary care trusts and the wider health and social care environment. 

To make the most of the range of experience, skills and knowledge within the group, a variety of teaching and learning strategies is employed, including seminars, discussions, debates and group work. You will also have access to the 'Brookes Virtual’ learning environment (an on-line repository of lectures, handouts, information and learning exercises).

The strategies we use encourage self-reflection, the integration of theory and practice, and interprofessional collaboration. Staff will support the development of your academic and professional practice.

The course is centred on practice and you will spend 50% of time in the practice environment. Your community practice teachers (CPTs) are highly involved with the development and implementation of the course and there is a great deal of collaboration with the provider services education leads. 

You will be encouraged to critically analyse and evaluate district nurse practice with your lecturers and CPTs, and your assignments will provide a focus for analysing practice. Your CPT will be responsible for facilitating your learning, supervising your progress and assessing your competence in practice.

Approach to assessment

Assessment is based on a developmental process of acquiring, modifying and refining skills and knowledge during each module. A variety of assessments is used, including written assignments, a practice portfolio and examinations.

Your practice knowledge and skills will also be assessed, so that you can demonstrate your ability to critically reflect on and develop practice in line with current professional standards.

Your community practice teacher will assess your competence in practice.

Field trips

There will be an expectation that the course will consist of 45 weeks of structured learning in the 52 week programme (or 90 weeks - 104 weeks part time). This will comprise of 50% theory and 50% practice based experience.

The student will be able to chose 5 days alternative practice placement experience in an alternative Health Visiting or School Nurse setting. 

In addition, the student will gain 10 days in alternative practice settings (public health days)  which will be aligned to the public health nurse role in building a wider picture of community practice.

Additional costs

Travel expenses will be incurred (only travel within the practice placement will be reimbursed). 
Core texts are available in the university library, there are no essential purchases of books required.
Online submission of assessments eliminate printing costs for all modules.

Attendance pattern

You will be paid full-time (or part-time) thus your attendance at university is recorded. Sickness and absence during the course will affect your sickness and absence record. Equally punctuality at university is a important part of your professional role.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: NHS funding 2020/21: NHS funding

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: NHS funding 2020/21: NHS funding

Funding is secured via application within an NHS Trust - see details below.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Funding is secured via application to an NHS Trust for a student post for the 52 week course (Student School Nurse or Student Health Visitor); this will involve an application to NHS jobs for the student vacancy followed by a joint interview with a community NHS Trust and the University. A values based recruitment strategy is used for all aspects of selection. please ensure that you are familiar with NHS Constitution values for professionals.

You should not apply for this course at Oxford Brookes until funding has been secured with an NHS Trust and you have a conditional offer in writing from an NHS Trust to commence the course.

For more information please contact the Programme Administrator.

For general sources of financial support, see funding for Postgraduate students from the UK and EU

Entry requirements

Access to the DN course is open to practitioners who meet the following criteria.

This course is at level 7 (Master’s Degree) therefore evidence is required of recent study at level 6 (degree level).

You must:

  • be registered on Part One (Adult/ RN1/ RNA) of the NMC register as an Adult Nurse and active UK Nurse
  • be able to demonstrate evidence of recent  study at level 6 on entry
  • have secured a student place within an NHS Trust which will ensure the following: 
  1. have access to a community practice teacher and placement area
  2. have a source of NHS funding (employment) to enable payment of the course fees.
Self funding for this course is not an option


  • entry onto the course will be subject to satisfactory Disclosure Barring Service clearance
  • evidence of being currently on the NMC register will also be required.
  • successful entry to this course is subject to satisfactory references.


All applicants will be screened for fitness for practice and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be made.

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

A requirement of the application is that you are UK registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and a working UK visa that would permit your employment in the NHS as a Nurse.

This course is not available to students classed as International for fees purposes.

Preparation courses for EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Oxford Brookes University works in partnership with Berkshire, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire and Oxford community NHS Trusts in the recruitment of students; you may apply to any of these NHS Trusts for a place. However we will only offer one interview upon short-listing (if successful), your information will be shared with Oxford Brookes by your chosen NHS Trust to coordinate an interview date.
If you are unsuccessful please do not apply again in the same academic year; you will be given feedback about your interview to support a further application if appropriate.

Please ensure that you have been offered a place in an NHS Trust before applying to Oxford Bookes University

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

  • The course enables experienced practitioners to build on their leadership and strategic development skills.
  • Students exiting the programme have demonstrated their ability to be leaders in community nursing practice.


On successful completion of the course:
  • You will receive a Postgraduate Diploma in District Nursing 
  • Your details will be forwarded to the NMC to inform of your recordable qualification, and for registration to prescribe  (V300).

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

All our courses adopt a student-centred approach to teaching and learning and are strongly focused on encouraging you to attain your full potential as lifelong learners.

There is a range of support mechanisms for students, such as academic advisers, who will facilitate your academic development, and student support co-ordinators, who provide a drop-in service for queries about any aspect of student life, covering both academic and personal welfare.

The university’s Support services includeUpgrade, which provides advice on study skills such as planning and writing essays, assignments and dissertations, research, or preparing for an exam. They also give advice on statistics and maths. There is a dedicated Student Disability and Dyslexia Service, which provides support for students with disabilities including sensory and mobility impairments, dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties, mental health problems and medical conditions. Here, staff offer advice and support on a range of issues, including physical access, funding, alternative assessment arrangements and liaison with teaching staff to ensure that they are aware of your requirements.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

We are very pleased with the results received in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 70% of our research in Allied Health Professions and Studies was rated as being of international significance in the assessment of research, of which 10% was rated as world-leading. The university has been careful to nurture emerging research strengths, and the international standing achieved by subjects allied to health demonstrates significant progress since 2001.

Research areas and clusters

We have a number of both promising and experienced researchers working in established areas including cancer care, children and families, drugs and alcohol, physical rehabilitation and enablement, and interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Over the past few years, these researchers have won external research and consultancy contracts including grants, fellowships and studentships for NHS staff. Our research staff collaborate with researchers from across Oxford Brookes University and from the Institute of Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, along with research teams from many other UK and international centres.

Our academic staff have extensive experience of NHS and general management at both senior and director level. They also have a significant record of research and publications on the topics of management and leadership. The currency of the course is also assured by the lecturers' close involvement in the health and social care sector and their movement between that sector and education.

For more details about our research portfolio, go to our website.