Acute Care (Top-Up) BSc (Hons)

Part-time undergraduate (2-3 years)

Cambridge, Chelmsford, Peterborough (Guild House)

January 2017, September 2017


Learn more about caring for acutely ill adults, and top-up your existing nursing qualification to a BSc (Hons). You’ll learn about current laws, procedures and best practice in this field while enhancing your leadership, decision-making and teamwork skills.

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Full description


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This course offers two great ways to boost your career. Firstly, you’ll turn your existing qualification/s into a BSc (Hons) degree. Secondly, when you graduate you’ll have an important nursing specialism under your belt.

Having developed your intellectual and practical skills on this course, you’ll be a real asset to any team. You might choose to remain in your current job, or you might pursue a more specialist role. Whatever your plans, we’ll help you choose the course modules to suit.

Once you’ve got your bachelor’s degree, opportunities to study or research at higher levels will also open up to you. You might be interested in our MSc Adult Critical Care Nursing.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Research Methodology
    You will learn to be analytical and insightful regarding research reports. You will gain an invaluable skill for anyone who wishes to provide effective and appropriate care in their individual sphere of practice. In addition, today's practitioner is required to work in a multi professional, multi-agency world which requires skills and insight into the efficacy of research. This module will revisit existing knowledge of the research process and assist you in further developing skills of critical analysis and ethical appraisal of published work.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The undergraduate major project enables you to raise and address significant questions relating to your chosen topic/issue. You'll be supported by a tutor with similar interests and research profile. This module requires autonomous study and it is your chance to demonstrate that you have met our University’s expectations and are ready to graduate.

Optional modules

  • Adult Acute Care
    This module will help build on your understanding of the importance of patient care. You will explore the concept of quality critical care (Department of Health, 2005), and recognise that individuals have the right to specialist care, regardless of location or speciality. You will also learn how to care for highly dependent and acutely ill patients in a way that maps directly to NICE's clinical guideline: CG 50 Acutely ill Patients in Hospital (2007), guided by the Department of Health (2009) competencies for acutely ill adults. Practitioners undertaking this module will come from a wide variety of clinical backgrounds and opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills will be facilitated. Learning and teaching strategies include lectures, skills workshops, and a significant amount of scenario based workshops. Through skilled assessment and interventions, practitioners can be proactive in detecting and supporting the highly dependent and acutely ill patient. A two part assessment is undertaken, a critical analysis of an aspect of care relating to an acutely ill patient plus clinical competencies.
  • Care of the Patient Undergoing Anaesthesia
    Covering the more advanced principles of anaesthesia and relevant pharmacology, this module will provide the student with the knowledge, skills and experience to recognise, communicate and respond competently when a patient's clinical condition indicates that they are becoming acutely unwell. You'll explore how psychological wellbeing can impact on recovery and the important of patient-focused care and empowerment. You'll also gain the knowledge and theory you need to perform the role anaesthetic assistant during advanced anaesthetic techniques. We provide plenty of opportunities to analyse and evaluate anaesthesia - both its practical use and the theory behind it. The assessment of the module is in the form of a presentation seminar and students will need to be explicit in how the NHS Constitution values inform their practice when considering the role of the student ODP. Practice will be assessed utilising a competencies document. The NHS constitution values will underpin the module content and delivery to ensure students are informed and aware of how these values inform their learning and practice development.
  • Cardiac Care
    In this module, you will develop your specialist skills in caring effectively for patients with chronic and acute cardiac disorders. You'll learn to analyse and interpret arrhythmias and understand the rationale for the management and holistic care needs of patients. You will also critically discuss different issues which affect the delivery of care to cardiac patients. In relating the theory to your practice, you will be able to compare and contrast different perspectives on treatment and management which is imperative for safe and effective clinical practice.
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
    This module will focus on the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, the phases, benefits and risks associated with cardiac rehabilitation for the selected patient group, the current burden caused by cardiac diseases, risk factors, lifestyle management and cardio-protective therapies. The importance of illness perceptions play a key role in influencing people’s health behaviours as they recover from an acute cardiac episode or cope with the impact of a chronic cardiac disease. It is therefore important that healthcare practitioners acquire the knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently provide and deliver quality care to those individuals.
  • Critical Care
    Our module will enhance your ability to provide safe, high-quality care for people who are critically ill. An essential element of our module is the time spent working within critical care with Level 2 & 3 patients. A clinical mentor will help you to achieve Step 2 and Step 3 competencies as determined by the Critical Care National Network Nurse Leads Forum (CC3N). You will follow the structure of the ABCDE assessment. Ex patients from intensive care are invited to come and talk about their experiences of critical care and beyond. Normal anatomy and physiology are explained first to ensure you have a baseline level of knowledge to underpin your practice.
  • Clinical Assessment Skills for Health Professionals
    This module will focus on developing Clinical Assessment Skills and you will study physical examinations for all body systems using diagnostic equipment and interpreting investigations. You will examine the framework for Professional Practice and reflect on issue such as evidence-based practice, protocols, guidelines, reflective practice, and record-keeping. The module also addresses communication and the psycho-social aspects of healthcare. This covers topics such as influences on health status and health behaviour, communication skills, history-taking, record-keeping, clinical decision-making skills, and management of change. Finally, you will concentrate on the assessment of common conditions/injuries.
  • Emergency Care
    The purpose of this module is to develop knowledge, skills and professional capability in managing the complex needs of the patient in the emergency care arena. This module will help you explore the common illnesses and injuries affecting clients attending A&E. You will learn to critically evaluate the accepted initial and definitive management of these conditions, and link them to current policy. You will also increase your appreciation of effective teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration.
  • Foundations in Burns and Plastic Surgery Care
    This module will develop your specialist skills in caring for patients following burn injuries or plastic surgery. You will learn about trauma and plastic, burns cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, as well as bariatric surgery. You will also enhance your ability to assess wounds, manage complications and support patient rehabilitation - at the same time expanding your career prospects. The module will also cover the following topics: introduction to cardiovascular and respiratory care in burns, psycho/social needs, managing head and neck burns, hand trauma, wound assessment.
  • High Dependency Care of the Acutely Ill Child
    This module will teach you to care for infants, children and young people with high-dependency needs, and who require Level 1 care. You’ll also learn to stabilise patients who need respiratory support or Level 2 care prior to transfer. You will learn to recognise when an infant, child or young person is acutely ill or potentially seriously unwell. You will also understand and explain the physiology and pathophysiology behind acute paediatric illness.
  • Law and Ethics in Health and Social Care
    You will explore the ethical and legal theories and principles that underpin health and social care, such as consent, confidentiality, duty of care and human rights. The module will explore the moral problems you may face in the course of your work, provide the background for recognising issues that may raise legal liability, and reflect on the legal, social and ethical context in which healthcare practice is situated. You will have the chance to deconstruct legal cases and practice putting forward your own contentions to construct, categorise and criticise different ethical arguments.
  • Management of Individuals with Long-Term Medical Conditions
    This module looks at helping people with long-term conditions to receive the best possible care as they approach the end of their lives. You will deliver an enhanced quality of care to your patients by deepening your understanding of the socio-economic and political context to long-term conditions, the pathophysiology related to key conditions, management and care systems, empowerment, health promotion and end-of-life care. You will learn to understand key conditions and how to manage them. You will also advance your professional skills in assessing needs, planning and managing care delivery.
  • Management of the Person with Diabetes
    You will develop the professional skills you need to care effectively and compassionately for people of any age with diabetes. The module examines the physiology, symptoms and impact of diabetes. You will understand the various interventions available, and how to manage acute and long-term diabetic complications. You will study the following topics: type 1 and 2 diabetes, the management of acute diabetic complications, non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions, the impact of diabetes, diabetes mellitus and the roles of insulin and glucagon.
  • Mentorship Preparation
    This module develops the skills you need to support and assess learners in practice. If you're a registered healthcare professional, it will help you to meet your professional body's requirements for mentorship/practice educator, and to enter the local register of mentors. Our mentorship preparation modules have been designed to develop future mentors who will be able to offer skilled, compassionate and effective support for learners in the workplace, underpinned by the value base of their profession and those enshrined in the NHS Constitution (Department of Health, 2013).
  • Mentorship, Work-Based Learning and Assessment in Health and Social Care
    This work-based module is aimed at practitioners who have a comparable mentorship qualification and a requirement to demonstrate the application of this to current professional body mentorship standards. It’s designed to encourage you to review your existing knowledge and skills and to consider the current context of practice learning, by supporting and assessing a learner in practice. It gives you the opportunity to meet professional body standards, and then to take on the role of mentor yourself.
  • Non-medical Prescribing
    This module prepares you to prescribe medicines from the British National Formulary, within your area of competence. You’ll learn to prescribe safely, appropriately and cost-effectively, as both an independent and supplementary prescriber. On successful completion of this module, you’ll be qualified to prescribe any medicine for any medical condition within your field of competence, including some controlled drugs.
  • Pain Management
    This module will link theory to practice in various clinical settings, covering a combination of assessment and treatment strategies. The focus will be on delivering holistic care, highlighting the biopsychosocial model of pain management. There will be an interdisciplinary approach and interactive group work sessions focusing on communication and implementation of care. External guest speakers will deliver sessions based on current practice. Topics will include: pain physiology, pain assessment, pharmacology, acute intervention, psychological interventions, patient education, pain in the older person, cancer pain.
  • Pain Management - Theory Only
    The focus will be on delivering holistic care, highlighting the biopsychosocial model of pain management. There will be an interdisciplinary approach and interactive group work sessions focusing on communication and implementation of care. External guest speakers will deliver sessions based on current practice. Topics will include: pain physiology, pain assessment, pharmacology, acute intervention, psychological interventions, patient education, pain in the older person, cancer pain.
  • Principles of Orthopaedic Care
    This module provides a solid grounding in the theory of caring for patients with orthopaedic disorders or injuries. It also lets you to build your specialist clinical experience, so that you can apply a critical problem-solving approach to understanding and managing patient care. You’ll reach a new understanding of the importance of research in orthopaedic practice. You’ll take a holistic approach to the management of orthopaedic patients, with a view to maximising their mobility and achieving an improved quality of life for them. You’ll also learn to respond to the educational and developmental needs of people undergoing therapy.
  • Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia
    This module provides an opportunity to achieve the basic knowledge required to function as a member of the anaesthetic team, while taking into account the broader issues of physics, environmental factors and legal and ethical issues. It will introduce you to anaesthetics and will act as the foundation, to be built upon in more depth when you progress to our next anaesthetic module. You'll gain the knowledge, skills and experience to recognise, communicate and respond competently, with care and compassion, when a patient's clinical condition indicates that they are becoming acutely unwell.
  • Principles of Respiratory and Thoracic Care
    This module will focus on how to care for a patient spanning both the acute and chronic respiratory spectrum. It will improve your current knowledge, management and assessment of respiratory diseases. It will enhance your understandings of the impact of respiratory disease and illness, upon patients, carers, family and the NHS. Your knowledge of treatment options available will be enhanced and you will study Respiratory pharmacology, Oxygen therapy, Non-Invasive Ventilation Therapy and Thoracic surgery.
  • Surgical First Assistant
    This module will give you the knowledge and skills to work as a surgical first assistant, assisting surgeons during operations and delivering safe care to patients. It's a structured and recognised programme, based on the national curriculum developed by the Perioperative Care Collaborative (PCC, 2012). You'll be in a position to make sure the role of surgical first assistant is used appropriately in your organisation, reducing the risk to patients and staff and improving safety.
  • Theoretical Perspectives in Adult Acute Care
    You will explore the essential aspects of the acute care of patients and carers in times of crisis. Patient safety is an absolute priority and and you will discuss lessons learnt from the NPSA reports (2007,2008) and the initiative of “Reducing Harm from Deterioration” (Patient Safety First 2008) as an outcome measure. Maintaining adequate tissue perfusion and oxygenation is essential for life. You will develop the knowledge necessary to care for the highly dependent and acutely ill patient and map directly against NICE Clinical Guideline 50 Acutely ill Patients in Hospital (2007).


Your practice assessment booklet sets out the core skills you should gain on this course. Depending on the module, you’ll demonstrate these skills in a number of ways, including essays, presentations, observed structured clinical exams (OSCEs) and/or exams.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education is the largest provider of health, social care and education courses in the East of England, with over 6,000 students from more than 20 countries.

With 95% of our students finding full-time employment within six months of graduating, you can be sure that our courses have been designed with your career in mind. We’ve been educating nurses, midwives and social workers for over 25 years.

At the cutting edge of research, we offer a range of internationally recognised undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses taught by friendly, supportive and experienced staff.With over 150 research students across our three doctoral programmes (PhD; DProf and EdD), we provide the multi-disciplinary perspective and potential for academic debate that reflects our position as a leader in practitioner-focused and practice-led research studies.

Designed to enhance your learning experience, our facilities include state-of-the-art simulated skills laboratories that mirror real-life clinical situations and UK hospital wards. Our students also benefit from our Early Childhood Research and Resource Centre; a space in which they can experiment with equipment and play activities.

You’ll study in an exciting, modern faculty which has strong links with regional, national and international organisations, including healthcare trusts, social services, local and regional authorities, schools and academic institutions.

Your enthusiasm. Our passion. Your best foot forward.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Peterborough (Guild House)
Guild House

Guild House is our dedicated healthcare campus in the historic city of Peterborough.

Explore our Guild House campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year part time)


Important fee notes

The course fee assumes that you’re studying at half the rate of a full time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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