Primary Care Nursing MSc

Postgraduate (1-3 years full-time, part-time)

Chelmsford, Peterborough (Guild House), Cambridge

January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Please note: this course is open to UK and EU applicants only, as it is a work-based course.

Teaching times

Your timetable will vary depending on module choices.


The future of successful health services lies in extensive provision in primary care and the community. Higher numbers of nurses will be needed to work and lead in this area, as autonomous and confident practitioners. If you're a nurse working in general practice, community and primary care settings, our Masters course is specially tailored to your needs.

Full description


Nurses wishing to start a career in general practice, primary or community care nursing will find this course tailored to their needs. Those nurses already working in these areas will find that this course is the partner learning experience to support their current and progressive practice.

There is a wide variety of settings existing in the community where you may wish to start or develop your career pathway. Minor injury units, General Practice, District nursing, Health visiting or Paediatric teams, working in nursing homes, Integrated Care, community hospitals, Sexual Health, Drug and Alcohol, dermatology, Cardiac and Respiratory clinics, ‘out of hours’ and outreach services to mention just a few.

Our programme will enable you to emerge as an autonomous practitioner able to lead and manage yourself, individuals and teams. You may decide to specialise further in practice and or undertake a higher level degree such as a Professional Doctorate. Your promotion prospects will be greatly enhanced as will your opportunities to apply for more senior roles. This course provides further steps on the ladder of your progressing career in primary and community nursing.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Research Proposal
    This module provides a critical overview of research philosophy and the major methodological and design approaches to research in order to equip you to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of published research, whether in your specialist area or in the health, welfare and social care field.
  • Major Project
    The Major Project is central to the Masters award and enables you to demonstrate your ability to synthesise learning from previous modules. You will use this learning as the basis for planning, conducting and writing up a research or work-based project. This is the opportunity for you to demonstrate the ability to raise significant and meaningful questions in relation to your chosen topic and a critical understanding of research methods and their relationship to knowledge. You will also be in a position to develop solutions to ethical dilemmas likely to arise in your research or professional practice and to expand existing knowledge to contribute to the development of best practice.

You will choose one of the following modules. Both modules will require a community practice assessment element and will require a mentor in your practice environment.

  • Fundamentals of Practice Nursing
    This module provides a foundation for those nurses new to practice nursing in addition to a sound evidence base for those who currently work in this field. It explores a wide and relevant assortment of skills and topic areas in addition to the research that underpins these. The module incorporates the philosophy of the NHS Constitution and prepares practice nurses to work within a multi-professional healthcare system to enable them to offer safe, ethical, and evidence-based care of the whole person.
  • Fundamentals of Community and Primary Care Nursing
    This module provides qualified nurses with a foundation for delivering safe, ethical and evidence based care for service users. The sessions will cover a range of topics to aid transferability of existing skills and the development of new skills. Primary care and community settings include walk in centres, community teams, nursing homes, sexual health, diabetes, dermatology and other community led clinics, integrated care centres, substance misuse centres, occupational health providers and indeed any other area where nurses are delivering care and treatment from a setting other than acute care hospitals.

Optional modules

  • Advanced Management of Minor Injuries
    This module will provide you with advanced decision-making skills, theoretical knowledge and advanced practical skills to work autonomously when caring for patients with a minor injury. You will gain advanced decision making skills, theoretical knowledge and advanced practical skills to work autonomously in caring for patients who present with a minor injury. Minor injuries cover all of the common injuries, for both adults and children. You'll learn from examples of history taking, examination, radiology, treatment and advice for each condition.
  • Advanced Non-Medical Prescribing
    This module will prepare nurses, midwives, specialist community public health nurses and pharmacists to prescribe safely and cost effectively as independent and supplementary prescribers. Alongside the holistic assessment skills module, this educational programme will provide the practitioner with key skills to deliver community agendas, providing care close to home. Supervision and assessment from a designated GP or Nurse Practitioner is essential within this module in order to meet the 78 hours clinical practice requirement. It also aims to prepare allied health professionals to prescribe safely, appropriately and cost effectively as supplementary prescribers and provide an opportunity for interprofessional students to debate, analyse and synthesise key issues within safe prescribing practice and its contribution to health care.
  • Advanced Skills in Clinical Assessment
    Advance your theoretical knowledge and practical skills to develop and integrate your existing experience with the concept of autonomous decision making and practice and ideas of health care in the 21st Century. Research has indicated that nurses and allied health professionals, with the appropriate education, support and development can deliver services in practice traditionally delivered by a doctor. In order to provide a service that meets the needs of patients, it is crucial that professionals have the advanced skills and knowledge required in delivering a service and leading and developing practice. To facilitate the development of these clinical skills, to receive patients with undiagnosed health needs and offer treatment or referral, the programme includes supervised practice by medical staff and/or by experienced, advanced practitioners. You’ll assess, manage and discharge/refer to a specialist team, patients, including children, with a range of undiagnosed minor and long term illnesses/diseases. Whilst many of the clinical skills of assessment and diagnosis are common to the assessment of both injuries and minor illness, the diagnostic processes will be very different. Minor illness is any condition which is self-limiting and does not prevent the patient from carrying out their normal functions for more than a short period of time. Clinical skills will therefore concentrate on an understanding of systems and patho-physiology.
  • Collaborative Mental Health Care
    This modules focusses on collaborative working within mental health care, drawing on examples of good practice from a global perspective. Collaborative working involves a range of stakeholders and organisations. The inclusion of service users and their families and carers in decision making has been a major shift in care delivery, as has the move from a medical model to a social model. Underpinning this is the emphasis on recovery principles and not symptom management. The development of peer workers in the UK has also led to recognition of how individuals who have experience of mental health problems can contribute to the recovery of others.
  • Contemporary Issues in Mental Health Care
    The module will address a number of issues related to mental health and society. You’ll explore the way in which mental illness is portrayed through the media and the impact this can have on interpretations of mental health and mental illness within a given society. This will include examining how mental health is represented in the news, on social media and within fictional sources including films and literature. The delivery of culturally appropriate health care will also be examined and you’ll reflect on how the knowledge gained can be applied to current or future practice.
  • Holistic Assessment Skills for Community Practitioners
    Comprehensive holistic assessment is key to the delivery of high quality, cost effective care to patients in the community. Assessing patients in the community requires the skills to examine, not just the patient but the environment in which they live and in which care will be delivered. You will develop systems-based assessment skills which are patient centred and will support accurate clinical decision making. This module will also support entry to the non-medical prescribing module.
  • Minor Illness Assessment and Management
    This module will provide health care professionals with an approach to the assessment and management of patients with minor illnesses that is symptom-based and patient safety-focused. The first part of the module looks at the importance of performing a systematic clinical assessment and learning the patterns of illness and red flags for the serious conditions that may present with the symptoms of minor illness. The limitations of clinical assessment in early illness and the dynamic nature of illness are also discussed, along with the principles and practices of safety-netting. The assessment of babies, children and older patients is discussed, along with telephone consulting. Specific clinical examination skills that relate to minor illness will also be taught. In the second part of the module, the common symptoms that patients present with will be covered, each time taking a symptom-based, patient safety-focused approach to the assessment and management of these patients. The sessions will conform to the relevant NICE guidelines and include the latest information on the use of antibiotics and analgesics in minor illness from organisations such as Public Health England and the European Medicines Agency. Students will either attend all 8 days of face-to-face teaching and assessment, or 4.5 days in the classroom and 3.5 days of on-line learning, spread over 4 months. The face-to-face teaching will run on alternate weeks to enable students to work with their mentors between the days at the university. Students will complete a reflective practice form for each session, where they will record what they have learned from each session and how this might lead to a change in their practice, along with the evidence-base for any changes to their practice. A logbook of clinical assessment skills and conditions encountered will also be required. At the end of the module, summative OSCE’s will enable the health care professional to demonstrate their clinical competence and a safe approach to the assessment and management of the patient with a minor illness. The OSCE will take the form of a 15-minute, simulated consultation taking place in the student’s workplace, during which the student will be required to assess the patient, exclude any serious conditions and propose an appropriate management plan, or referral pathway, related to their workplace.
  • Safeguarding Children and Young People
    In this module you will study explanations of child abuse and safeguarding children and young people, and critically reflect upon the findings. An examination of personal reflections related to children and young people, and the relevant issues, will also offer professional insight into current policy and procedure. It will enable you to critically evaluate your own knowledge and the skills which underpin your current practice and to take a more proactive and innovative stance when promoting the safeguarding of children and young people.
  • Significant Events in Childhood
    This module will enable you to choose an area of professional practice that is of personal interest, and to analyse and evaluate it in depth. You will be expected to bring a significant event from practice and be prepared to share this with the group in order to enable the development of critical evaluative skills. This will be facilitated by a formative presentation.
  • Specialist Mental Health Care
    This module aims to allow you to develop specialist knowledge on certain mental health conditions. You will be able to understand and comprehend various specialised aspects of the ‘craft of caring’ for people with a serious mental illness. You will also get the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of more complex individualised care, helping to improve the quality of care the patient receives. The module will explore varied specialisms for example, forensics, older people, learning disabilities, carers, child and adolescence mental health care needs, and will also consider an international perspective.

You will study a total of 60 credits, chosen from the above optional module list. Understanding Contraception and Sexual Health and Holistic Assessment Skills for Community Practitioners are 15 credit modules, all other modules are 30 credits. Modules are subject to change.


The assessment strategies are designed to challenge your critical thinking and enable you to demonstrate your ability to advance theory and practice through the critique of existing and new knowledge. As part of the learning process the focus of the assignments is on the application of theoretical knowledge to practice issues. Assessments vary according to modules and include written essays, reports, case studies, presentations, patchwork assessment, a research proposal and dissertation.

Fundamentals of Practice Nursing and Fundamentals of Community and Primary Care Nursing are assessed with the completion of a Practice Assessment Document (pass/fail) and a summative assessed presentation of 20 minutes.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

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

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

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2019/20 (per year)


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.

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