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BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)

Mental Health is one of several specialist fields of practice available in our BSc (Honours) Nursing (R39)

If you want to become a registered nurse within this field, and are already working in a healthcare role, this unique practice-based qualification is for you. You'll be able to stay in work while you study – provided you have the support of your employer and suitable practice can be agreed. Successful completion of your degree through this route will result in your eligibility to apply for registration as a qualified nurse (mental health) with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Key features of the course

  • Delivers a balance of theory and practice through practice-based and distance learning.
  • Develops effective evidence-based nursing practice and underpinning knowledge in an inter-professional and interdisciplinary environment.
  • Confers eligibility to enter the NMC professional register on successful attainment of the degree.
  • Allows you to continue to work part time for your employer whilst studying to become a nurse.

Course Summary



  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Flexible practice-based programme
3–4 years depending on location of study
and entry route
Study method
Distance learning
& Practice-based learning  

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • For Stage 1 you'll study two 60-credit modules; one practice-focused and one that builds your theoretical knowledge of nursing.
  • At Stage 2 you’ll study a second practice-based nursing module alongside a second theory module.
  • Finally, at Stage 3, you’ll study a third module developing your nursing theory, and a final practice-based module where you will choose your specialist field of Mental Health.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 provides you with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to reach progression point 1 (NMC requirement). You’ll examine the experience of giving and receiving care in a wide range of healthcare settings and explore how to maintain the relevance of your practice in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

Stage 2 builds on learning from Stage 1. The practice module incorporates three substantial learning opportunities to apply your learning to practice developing increased confidence as a caregiver. Teaching will be driven using enquiry-based practices in small groups using case scenarios or vignettes, working with peers to support a positive learning community.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

Stage 3 builds on learning from Stages 1 and 2, with your practice module incorporating a further three learning opportunities to apply learning to practice to develop increasing confidence. At the end of Stage 3, you'll be ready to apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Council to join their professional register and work as a registered nurse with a specialism in Mental Health.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 14 March 2023.


We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BSc (Honours) Nursing uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • students study online - online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes, asynchronous and synchronous forums
  • work in a group with other students
  • undertake practical work to develop regulatory proficiencies and skills
  • finding external/third party material online.

In addition to the above, the regulatory body for nursing – the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has guidance on health, disability relating to fitness for professional practice and determine minimum entry requirements around numeracy and literacy.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding.
  • Cognitive skills.
  • Practical and professional skills.
  • Key skills.

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have previously studied either nursing, or a closely related subject at the higher education level within the last 5 years, you may be eligible to apply for credit transfer towards this degree.

Before you consider applying for credit transfer, you need to contact the Student Recruitment Team who will refer you for a more detailed discussion with a member of the nursing team in your location.

An application for credit transfer needs to be made once you have been advised that it is appropriate for you to apply for a place on the nursing programme. At the very latest, you need to apply for credit transfer 10 weeks before registration closes.

Once you have discussed the feasibility of making a credit transfer application, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Classification of your degree

On completing this course, we’ll award you a BSc (Honours). Your degree title will show your specialist field of practice:

  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Children and Young People)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Learning Disabilities)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Compare this course

Entry requirements

BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult/Children and Young People/Learning Disabilities/Mental Health)

You'll need be working in a relevant healthcare environment and have the support of your employer to study this degree.

BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with Middlesex University
BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with the University of the West of England
BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust1

If you are resident in England and not currently working in a healthcare role, you can study the Adult field of this degree in partnership with Middlesex University, the University of the West of England, or Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. For this route, some evidence of providing care to others is desirable, though it's not essential. This informal care experience can include working in a voluntary capacity, for example, as an unpaid carer, which can demonstrate your understanding and appreciation of healthcare settings and the role of a nurse within them.

1Subject to Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approval.

Education and personal attributes

You should also meet the education and personal attributes of the nursing programme:

  • literacy (functional skills level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in English)
  • numeracy (functional skills level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in Maths)
  • good character, evidenced through self-declaration, an enhanced criminal record disclosure, and two references – one of which must be from your current employer (where applicable)
  • good health, evidenced through self-declaration of health status, occupational health screening, review of previous sickness and absence record, and two references – one of which must be from your current employer (where applicable)
  • successful completion of interview and assessment of your personal values matched to the requirements for sensitive nursing practices as defined by:

Find out more

For details about the nursing programme and to see the full range of healthcare qualifications we offer, visit Nursing at the Open University.

If you're interested in the nursing programme for your staff, you can find out more employer related information here.

How much time do I need?

How long it takes to study this qualification will vary depending on your location of study and entry route.

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is either:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including psychology, childhood and youth studies, health and social wellbeing, sport, education and social sciences.

View full details of Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

How much will it cost?

You can only study this degree if you're resident in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man or Channel Islands.

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Our current fee for a 60-credit practice-based module for this qualification is £5,750.
  • Our current fee for a 60-credit theory-based module for this qualification is £3,500
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £27,750*.

*The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options may vary depending on study route and/or location of study.

Employer Sponsorship1

It may be possible for you to secure sponsorship from your employer who will cover your tuition fees. 

Full-time Tuition Fee Loans2

As a student on the BSc (Honours) Nursing you may need to apply for a Full-Time Tuition Fee Loan. You pay nothing up front and only start repayments when you’re earning over the income threshold, currently £25,000. Repayments are linked to your income to ensure they’re affordable, and are deducted automatically by your employer through the UK tax system. On a salary of £27,000, for example, repayments would be just £15.00 a month.

If you think a Full-Time Tuition Fee Loan is right for you, find out How to apply for a loan.

Open University Student Budget Account1

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments. You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card, and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

1Employer sponsorship and Open University Student Budget Account are not available when studying in partnership with Middlesex University or The University of the West of England.

2England only.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you.

How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.

Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.


Tutorials usually take place online, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.


  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance.
  • Most exams take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location.
  • If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description, and you will be required to take your exam in person at one of our exam centres.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

How to apply

How you apply to study this degree will depend on which field of nursing practice you would like to study and whether you're being sponsored by your current employer or studying independently. 

Entry routes

BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult)

If you would like to specialise in Adult nursing, there are two routes onto the qualification.

  • Employer sponsorship (Route 1)
    Start dates: October and February

    This is a work-based route. In order to access this route you must be working in a healthcare role and have the support of your employer. You will be able to stay in work while you study provided you have the support of your employer and a suitable range of experience can be agreed.

    Your employer will enter into a formal partnership with The OU for delivery of the qualification and should contact us on +44 (0)300 303 0529 for more details.
  • Without employer sponsorship (Route 2) - England only
    If you are resident in England and not currently working in a healthcare role, this route allows you to apply to study our BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) without employer sponsorship using our blended learning programme in partnership with one of the following universities and NHS Trusts.

    Middlesex University (MDX) / University of the West of England (UWE)
    Start date: February

    The next start date to study via this route is February 2024. Application dates and registration details will follow shortly

    To find out more about this exciting partnership and how you'll study with our partner universities, visit Middlesex University/University of the West of England blended nursing.

    Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH)1
    Start date: October

    The next start date to study via this route is October 2023. Please complete this form as soon as possible and we'll send you an application pack. Registration closes on 31 May 2023.

    All offers are also subject to a successful interview at the selection day, satisfactory health screening, and DBS clearance. An interview is mandatory, in line with our professional and regulatory body requirements.

    If you have any queries, you may find the answer in our frequently asked questions document.

    To explore how you'll study with this partnership, visit Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust blended nursing.

    1Subject to Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approval.


BSc (Honours) Nursing (Children and Young People) | BSc (Honours) Nursing (Learning Disabilities) | BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)

  • Employer sponsorship (Route 1)
    Start dates: October and February

    To apply to study the Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health fields of nursing practice, you must be working in a relevant environment and have the support of your employer. The Open University offers this practice-based qualification in association with partnering employers. As such, you must be working in healthcare practice in a caring role where registered nurse mentors are available.

    You will need to discuss the opportunity with your employer and with a member of the nursing academic team in your location. Contact us on +44 (0)300 303 0529 for more details.

Skills for career development

In addition to meeting the NMC competencies, the practice learning part of this degree develops skills that are highly transferable in the labour market – including critical analysis, numeracy, literacy, digital literacy, communication, team working, problem solving/solution finding, ICT proficiency, leadership, management and innovation. This programme has been designed to meet the 2018 Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses.

You'll be supported to develop the professional behaviours, inter-professional working, values and attitudes expected of a compassionate nurse who can demonstrate connectedness, emotional intelligence, and moral responsibility. This will be done using Enquiry Based Learning to facilitate you to acquire requisite knowledge and skills. This research-orientated approach will inspire you to learn for yourself in readiness for lifelong learning and leadership.

Career relevance

The learning outcomes for this degree have been mapped to (and fully comply with) the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) 2018 Standards for pre-registration nursing programmes, and to subject benchmarking statements for Nursing. On successful completion of your studies, you are eligible to apply for registration to the professional register as a qualified nurse.


On graduating from the BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) / (Children and Young People) / (Learning Disabilities) / (Mental Health), you’ll be eligible to apply for entry to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

Exploring your options

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:

  • Staff nurse
  • Senior staff nurse
  • Ward manager
  • Community nurse
  • District nurse
  • Community team leader
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Practice nurse 
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Practice educator
  • Practice development nurse
  • Clinical nurse researcher
  • Nurse lecturer 
  • Advanced clinical practitioner

Register for this course

Please see Entry requirements to register for this course as online registration is not available.

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