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BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)

Mental Health is one of several specialist routes available in our BSc (Honours) Nursing.

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.

In addition to Mental Health nursing, your study will include a number of additional nursing specialisms, including Adult, Children and Young People, and Learning Disabilities. 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.

Throughout the compulsory modules you'll have opportunity to advance your core learning across all four fields of practice – Adult, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities and Mental Health – and explore learning from your field of practice.

  • 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 19 May 2021.


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.

BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with Middlesex University: Credit transfer will not be available for students studying at the Open University and Middlesex University in February 2022. This is because the February 2022 intake is the first intake at the Open University and Middlesex University so there is no existing programme for students to transfer into.

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 successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health).

If you choose a specialist route, your degree title will show that:

  • 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

If you are resident in England and not currently working in a healthcare role, you can study the Adult specialism of this degree in partnership with Middlesex University or the University of the West of England. 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.

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 or the full range of healthcare qualifications we offer, visit Nursing at the Open University.

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 our:

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

How much will it cost?

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 £5,500.
  • 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 £27,000*.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2022. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

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 include employer sponsorship, Full-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), and monthly payment plans.

Employer Sponsorship

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

Full-time Tuition Fee Loans

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 £27,295. 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 £29,000, for example, repayments would be just £12.79 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 Account

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).

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 to apply

How you apply to study this degree will depend on which specialism you would like to study. The entry routes available for each specialism, either Adult, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health, are listed below.

Entry routes

BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult)

If you would like to specialise in Adult nursing, there are two routes onto the qualification. Entry will depend on if you are being sponsored by your employer or studying independently.

  • 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.
  • Middlesex University / University of the West of England direct entry (Route 2) – England only
    Start dates: February 2022

    If you are resident in England and not currently working in a healthcare role, this route allows you to apply directly to The Open University to study our BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) without employer sponsorship. Some evidence of providing care to others is desirable, though it's not essential.

    To apply for this route, please complete this form as soon as possible and we'll send you an application pack.

    Applications close 30 November 2021. Places are limited and we are operating a rolling recruitment process, which means applications will close when we reach full capacity.

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 for the Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health specialisms, 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.

Spaces are limited and the timeline for your application will depend on where you or your employer are in terms of readiness to join/support the programme for Route 1 entry, or progress with direct applications for Route 2 entry.

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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