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Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting or School Nursing)


Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery

Approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

This innovative Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting or School Nursing) course enables you to develop your practice as a specialist public health nurse. You will complete the programme as a collaborative public health practitioner, who is able to lead practice forward and work in partnership with clients and other professions and agencies.

The overall philosophy of the Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting or School Nursing (SCPHN) course is to provide an excellent course structure and teaching and learning methods in both academic and practice settings. We believe that academic preparation is an integral part of practice development and that both are part of the same process. Our aim is to enable you to be a high-quality practitioner who is a skilful public health nurses in School Nursing or Health Visiting, and is able to bring about change in practice environments.

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: 12 months
  • Part time: 24 months

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

  • This course will strengthen your leadership attributes in order to prepare you for the public health workforce as a SCPHN
  • The curriculum content will reflect currency in practice issues, this will include the exploration of contemporary public health high impact areas across the fields of practice. 
  • We support multi and inter-professional learning and teaching, offering excellent opportunities for shared learning across the university.
  • Our lecturers are experienced in their specialist practice areas and maintain excellent practice links with those areas locally or across the region, and have established links with colleagues, organisations and institutions at national and international levels to enable contemporaneous teaching material and speakers.
  • You will benefit from the fact that we are a student-centred institution that is fully committed to each individual achieving their potential. To support this, we offer a broad range of student support schemes to facilitate learning and development.
  • We have an excellent track record of high levels of student satisfaction and high employability.

Professional accreditation

Students successfully completing this course will be eligible for registration by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on the Third part of the register (Specialist Community Public Health Nursing), and for registration as able to prescribe from the community practitioners formulary (V100).

The course comprises seven modules. All seven modules need to be taken over the year for the full-time route. The part-time route requires the seven modules to be taken over the two years with the required amount of practice.

There are many opportunities for you to continue to study after the end of the course and we aim to encourage you towards lifelong learning. On successful completion of the postgraduate diploma, you may achieve a master's in Public Health Nursing, for further information please discuss this with the course leader. This will require independent funding.

The seven singles modules are:

  • Foundations of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing 1 is a practice-based module with clear links to currency in public health practice and policy which enables you to develop an in-depth systematic understanding of the knowledge and skills in public health nursing in relation to health visiting or school nursing.
  • Leadership in Health and Social Care allows you to develop and apply the knowledge, conceptual and practice skills needed to be an effective leader within health and social care environments, both in the public and private sectors.
  • Risk and Protection of Children will critically examine contemporary childhood from an international perspective including children's rights, child welfare and well-being and children's experiences of harm in society.
  • Foundations of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing 2 is a practice-based module which will continue to enable you to demonstrate originality and initiative in your consolidation of public health knowledge and skills in relation to your field and practice.
  • Advanced Health Promotion will explore practical aspects of health promotion, including how to develop strategic and action plans.
  • Psychosocial Care of Children, Adolescents and their Families, this module develops psychosocial assessment skills using a sound theoretical framework. Building on family strengths, this module aims to support the acquisition of skills and knowledge in relation to assessment, planning interventions and exploring therapeutic approaches.
  • Foundations of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing 3 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.
  • The Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing (V100) recordable qualification will be embedded into the specialist practice modules (foundations of Specialist Community Public Health nursing 1, 2, and 3). This will enable practitioners to prescribe from the Nurse Prescribers’ Formulary for Community Practitioners.

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.
  • 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.
  • Advanced Research and Design aims to equip 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 to use this as a basis for identifying the appropriate research methodologies for a small scale research project or dissertation. Students will gain the skills that will enable them to plan and outline a rationale for a piece of primary research, secondary analysis, literature review or audit. It focuses on research as 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 strategy of the course reflects its inter-professional, client-centred and practice-focused approach. Opportunities for sharing existing and developing skills, knowledge and experience are maximised with student engagement in teaching. Lively debates develop within the sessions and you will be able to discuss relevant issues with others from different community provider services. In order to make the most of the range of experience, skills and knowledge within the group, a variety of teaching and learning strategies will be used. They include lectures, seminars, debates and group work. The Brookes Virtual Learning Environment (an on-line repository of lectures, handouts, information and learning exercises) will also be used as part of the teaching and learning process. Some modules will have a greater emphasis on E-learning as a primary source of education. Teaching strategies will encourage self directed learning, self-reflection, the integration of theory and practice and inter-professional collaboration.

Practice assessment is a key part of the assessment process throughout the course and many strategies are used to assess your overall practice competence; these are all clearly demonstrated in an electronic portfolio.

Approach to assessment

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 community provider service education leads. You will be encouraged to critically analyse and evaluate SCPHN 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.

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.

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

In addition, you 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

This course is unique in nature as 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 funded (see below) 2020/21: NHS funded (see below)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: NHS funded (see below) 2020/21: NHS funded (see below)

Funding is secured via application to an NHS Trust for a student post - see detail 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 SCPHN 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 either the nursing or midwife (parts one or two of the NMC register)
  • 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

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 Bookers University

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.

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

Healthcare and the community environment are continually undergoing change. For public health to be central to the service that is offered to the population, there is a need for highly dynamic and flexible practitioners who are self aware, resilient, competent and good leaders. You will need sound academic skills and evidence-based practice to enable you to lead positive change, both of your own practice and that of the Health Visiting and School Health professions as a whole. This course will challenge you and help you to develop the knowledge and skills that you require in preparation for a future in public health nursing and the 0-19 agenda .

  • 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 public health nursing practice.


On successful completion of the course:

  • You will receive a Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting or School Nursing).
  • Your details will be forwarded to the NMC for registration on the Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (third part of the register), and for registration to prescribe from the community practitioner’s formulary (V100).

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 include Upgrade, 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.

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

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.