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Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory

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You will study this module if you are registered on the BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with the University of the West of England.

Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory (KYE210) is the learning that we introduce you to at level 2 and sets the foundation for further learning at level 3. Your learning will be online in groups of approximately eight students supported by a module tutor. Learning will be structured around enquiry-based practices using case scenarios/vignettes that will encourage you to be an active learner. You will contribute to the learning of your peers by coming together bi-weekly to share learning and experiences in a safe and non-threatening environment.

What you will study

This 30-week module is the theory module of 60 credits that sits alongside Developing Nursing Practice (KYE211) focusing on the development of your practice as part of the BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult).

Content taught in level 1 focused on foundational health and social care, whereas this level 2 module will develop generic and field-specific nursing content, allowing opportunities for you to deep dive into the four fields of practice through use of an enquiry-based learning (EBL) approach. You'll be introduced to the broad principles that underpin nursing practice in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards of proficiency for registered nurses (NMC 2018), and use case scenarios and vignettes to discover a range of caring interventions.

You will be studying in groups of approximately eight students and will come together bi-weekly to share and advance your learning and that of your peers, we anticipate that you'll feel part of an active learning community.

The learning materials on the module website encompass five key themes:

  • Developing a professional identity
  • Improvement science and patient safety
  • Development across the life course
  • Integrated services
  • Wellbeing.

During the tutorials you will be guided to study specific EBL materials to help you respond to and learn from the case scenarios and vignettes that you will discuss within tutorials. Your tutor will also guide you towards certain lines of enquiry where essential learning is necessary, for example, physiology, skills rationale, public health initiatives. We have identified these learning materials as essential for your study, and you’ll see these pages marked ‘Essential for study’ within the EBL materials. The remaining learning materials are available for you to study; you will be able to select lines of enquiry where you have a personal interest based on the scenario. You are also expected to study outside OU learning materials by seeking further information from the internet, as well as drawing on local trust and national policies to inform your tuition and practice.

It should be noted that in most instances, this module will run concurrently with Developing Nursing Practice (KYE211) and therefore the content has been shaped to facilitate your application of learning to practice.

You will learn

This module contributes to a professional qualification. The following outcomes informed the content and assessment of the module:

  • Ability to think critically when applying evidence and drawing on experience to make evidence-informed decisions in all situations
  • Demonstrating resilience and emotional intelligence to explain the rationale that influences judgements and decisions in routine, complex and challenging situations
  • Promoting non-discriminatory, person-centred and sensitive care, reflecting on people’s values and beliefs, diverse backgrounds, cultural characteristics, language requirements, needs and preference
  • Taking responsibility for continuous self-reflection, seeking and responding to support and feedback to develop professional knowledge and skills.

Entry requirements

You'll need to be registered on our BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult) in partnership with the University of the West of England to study this module.

To do so, you'll need to:

  • have satisfied the entry requirements for the qualification
  • typically have completed the two OU level 1 modules Introducing health and social care (KYE102) and Introduction to health care practice (KYE104) or demonstrate equivalent learning/experience
  • met the NMC entry requirements; demonstrated good character and health status through self-declaration; enhanced criminal disclosure; occupational health screening; review of previous sickness and absence; two references, one from current employer.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Online learning materials and resources. You will have access to a module website, through which teaching and library resources are available that provide links to current information and relevant research-based materials relating to module content.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Online tuition will be via synchronous Adobe Connect meetings with bi-weekly online group tutorials. Where essential learning is necessary learning materials will be labelled as ‘Essential for study’. The remaining learning materials are available for you to study; you will be able to select lines of enquiry where you have a personal interest based on the scenario. You are expected to study additional sources of evidence beyond the learning materials within the module website; this will be achieved by seeking further information from the internet, as well as drawing on local trust and national policies to inform your tuition and practice.

Online tutorials will run in groups of approximately eight students. Students seeking individual support will be able to do so through their tutor.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and End-of-module assessment (EMA) online through the eTMA system unless there are difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA) is completed via the module website.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying KYE210 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory starts once a year – in February.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2026.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment