Study Nursing In The UK: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Embarking on a nursing career in the United Kingdom offers a world of opportunities and challenges. In this comprehensive subject guide, we’ll take you through the essential aspects of studying nursing in the UK. From the renowned universities that offer nursing programmes to the exciting prospects awaiting aspiring nurses, this article is your compass to navigate the path towards a rewarding career in healthcare.


Table of Contents

What is Nursing?

Nursing is a noble and essential profession that forms the backbone of healthcare systems worldwide. It encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, all aimed at providing high-quality care to patients and promoting their well-being.

At its core, nursing involves the delivery of holistic care, which means looking after the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of patients. Nurses play a crucial role in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, care homes, and community health services. They work with individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, addressing a spectrum of health issues and conditions.

Nurses are often the first point of contact for patients, providing vital support and reassurance during times of illness or injury. They administer medications, monitor vital signs, assist in surgeries, and educate patients and their families about health conditions and self-care. Additionally, nurses collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals, ensuring a coordinated approach to patient care.

Why Study Nursing?

Studying nursing offers a wealth of compelling reasons to consider this field as your career path. Here are some key factors that make nursing a rewarding choice:

  1. Rewarding Work: Nursing is a profession that allows you to make a real difference in people’s lives. You have the opportunity to provide care, comfort, and support to those in need, and the sense of fulfilment that comes from helping others is unparalleled.

  2. Varied Specialisations: Nursing offers a broad spectrum of specialisations, allowing you to choose a path that aligns with your interests and career goals. Whether you’re passionate about paediatrics, mental health, or critical care, there’s a nursing specialty for you.

  3. Flexible Career Path: Nursing offers flexibility in terms of working hours and settings. You can choose to work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or even in research. This flexibility allows you to tailor your career to your lifestyle and interests.

  4. Personal Satisfaction: Nursing is not just a job; it’s a vocation that provides immense personal satisfaction. Knowing that you are contributing to the well-being of individuals and communities can be incredibly fulfilling.

  5. Respected Profession: Nurses are highly respected members of the healthcare team. Their knowledge and expertise are valued, and they play a crucial role in patient care and well-being.

Best Universities for Nursing in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Sheffield1514.043.49100100
2University of Glasgow2044.423.4896.71009299.2
3The University of Edinburgh2084.213.3295.5959498.5
4University of Manchester1553.613.5896.3989297.6
5University of Liverpool1523.863.2294.61009697.6
6Queen's University Belfast1383.943.5395.31009697.3
7University of Leeds1523.443.5951009697.3
8University of York1473.943.592.9999597.1
9University of Southampton1473.743.5795.1969196.7
10Ulster University1384.243.2993.3999496.5
11University of Nottingham1413.523.5396999396.5
12King's College London, University of London1433.583.6495.31009096.4
13Kingston University1444.093.0496.8969296.3
14Cardiff University1473.883.3992.31009096.3
15University of Birmingham1503.113.3691.610010096.1
16Northumbria University, Newcastle1483.533.393.61009496.1
17University of Surrey1473.993.3687.2979795.8
18Coventry University1423.93.2593999495.7
19Keele University1403.863.5195.4988795.6
20University of Plymouth1483.693.0189.5999495.2
21Swansea University1383.543.5389.9999495.1
22University of East Anglia UEA1363.553.3491.6989495
23University of Lincoln1343.53.3593.7998994.6
24University of Hertfordshire1283.933.2195.6978994.5
25University of West London1254.062.7993.3999394.4
26City, University of London1373.583.3793.4949094.4
27University of Salford1373.693.0192.11009294.3
28University of Portsmouth1323.723.1391.51009394.3
29University of Greenwich1264.212.9594.2978894.3
30Liverpool John Moores University1403.792.7492.5998994
31Bangor University1403.863.482.1989694
32Oxford Brookes University1273.653.0995.6969193.8
33University of Hull1323.543.389.1999193.7
34University of Bradford1363.562.9994.4958993.7
35Birmingham City University1323.712.9592.5999193.6
36Bristol, University of the West of England1353.43.1393.2998993.5
37Teesside University, Middlesbrough1243.682.9291.81009593.5
38University of Brighton1363.573.2289.5989093.5
39Bournemouth University1243.572.7293.9999293.3
40Manchester Metropolitan University1433.633.0288.81008593.2
41University of Huddersfield1363.642.6689.2989292.9
42Leeds Beckett University1303.663.03861009692.9
43Glasgow Caledonian University1403.663.4192.1989492.7
44London South Bank University1233.862.991988992.7
45Edinburgh Napier University1294.143.0892.6989392.7
46University of Worcester1323.462.6190.4999392.6
47University of Derby1363.942.5987.8988992.5
48University of Roehampton1094.353.0687.192.5
49Edge Hill University1393.552.7688.3979092.4
50University of South Wales1383.542.7788.3988992.4
51Sheffield Hallam University1263.332.6992.61009192.3
52De Montfort University1293.662.6489989292.3
53University of Chester1273.62.8189.8998692.3
54University of Essex1143.692.989.7989292.2
55University of Central Lancashire1363.52384.2999392.2
56Glyndwr University, Wrexham964.552.0310010091.9
57Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh1363.672.8496.91008391.8
58Staffordshire University1233.692.7587.3988991.8
59Anglia Ruskin University1183.96388.4988791.8
60University of Dundee1223.843.3990.3998991.7
61Canterbury Christ Church University1233.72.8688.4988891.5
62University of Bolton1293.881.0395.21009091.5
63University of Stirling1323.653.1491.1968791.1
64University of East London1043.52.7694.691.1
65University of Wolverhampton1293.612.6684.2989291.1
66University of Northampton1223.61.9588.2999391.1
67Robert Gordon University1193.852.5393.8979590.8
68Middlesex University1173.922.7185.8988890.7
69University of Bedfordshire1263.932.5878.61009590.7
70University of Gloucestershire1093.452.3288.7949390.2
71University of Leicester1383.9288.590
72University of Sunderland1273.542.8783.2928889.9
73Solent University (Southampton)1203.8593.489.6
74University of Winchester1134.0992.589.2
75Buckinghamshire New University1183.972.5183.3958489.1
76University of Suffolk1163.6189.1999288.8
77Abertay University863.852.559688.7
78University of the West of Scotland1213.722.7890.3918588.6
79University of Cumbria1233.5986.8998888.3
80University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)1203.8689.7988886.9
81Nottingham Trent University1193.8373.183.9

Entry Requirements for a Nursing Degree

The entry requirements for a degree in nursing in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific nursing programme you are interested in. However, here are some general guidelines:

  1. Academic Qualifications: Typically, you will need a minimum of two A-levels or equivalent Level 3 qualifications. Subjects like Biology, Chemistry, or Health and Social Care are often preferred. Some universities may also accept Access to HE Diplomas.

  2. GCSEs: You’ll usually need at least five GCSEs, including English, Mathematics, and Science, at grade C/4 or above. Some universities may specify higher grades or additional GCSEs in specific subjects.

  3. UCAS Application: You will need to apply through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) and choose the relevant nursing programme. The UCAS points requirement can vary, but it’s typically around 112-120 points. Check with the specific universities for their UCAS point requirements.

  4. Health and Disclosure Checks: You will be required to undergo health checks to ensure you are fit to work in a clinical setting. Additionally, you may need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure you have no criminal convictions that would prevent you from working with vulnerable individuals.

  5. English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you may need to demonstrate proficiency through an English language test like IELTS or the Occupational English Test (OET).

It’s important to note that entry requirements can vary from one university to another, and some may have additional criteria or specific prerequisites. Therefore, it’s essential to check with the universities you are interested in to ensure you meet their specific entry requirements. Additionally, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) sets standards for nursing education in the UK, so make sure that the programme you choose is NMC-approved.

Jobs for Nursing Graduates

Nursing graduates in the UK have a wide range of job options, thanks to the versatility and demand for nursing skills in various healthcare settings. Here are some of the job options for nursing graduates:

  1. Staff Nurse: This is a common entry-level position for nursing graduates. Staff nurses work in hospitals, clinics, or care homes, providing direct patient care and support. They monitor patients, administer treatments, and assist in medical procedures.

  2. Specialist Nurse: Nursing graduates can choose to specialise in areas such as paediatrics, mental health, critical care, or midwifery. Specialist nurses provide advanced care in their chosen field, often working with specific patient populations.

  3. Community Nurse: Community nurses work in patients’ homes or local communities. They provide care for individuals with long-term conditions, administer medications, and offer health education and support.

  4. Nurse Educator: Nursing graduates with experience and advanced qualifications can become nurse educators, teaching the next generation of nurses in educational institutions.

  5. Nurse Researcher: Nurse researchers work in research institutions, hospitals, or universities. They conduct research to improve healthcare practices and contribute to evidence-based nursing.

  6. Nurse Manager or Leader: Experienced nurses can move into management and leadership roles, overseeing nursing teams and ensuring the smooth operation of healthcare units.

  7. Military Nurse: Nursing graduates can choose to work in the military, providing healthcare services to service members and their families.

  8. Flight Nurse: Flight nurses work on medical transport aircraft, providing care to patients during air travel, often in critical or emergency situations.

  9. Nursing Informatics Specialist: Nursing informatics specialists use technology to improve healthcare outcomes, focusing on managing and analysing healthcare data and information systems.

These are just a few examples of the job options available to nursing graduates. The nursing profession offers a diverse range of opportunities, allowing individuals to tailor their career paths to their interests and passions within the healthcare sector.

Salary for Nursing Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £21,000

High-skilled: £25,000

Topics for Nursing Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of nursing and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Mental Health Stigma and its Effects on Treatment Seeking: Explore the role of stigma in preventing individuals from seeking mental health treatment and potential strategies to reduce stigma.

  2. Nursing Burnout and Strategies for Prevention: Analyse the prevalence of burnout among nurses and evaluate interventions and strategies to prevent or mitigate burnout in nursing.

  3. Nursing Education and Its Influence on Patient Safety: Assess the relationship between nursing education levels (e.g., BSN vs. ADN) and patient safety outcomes in clinical practice.

  4. Telehealth and Remote Nursing Care: Study the effectiveness and challenges of providing nursing care through tele-health and its implications for patient outcomes and access to care.

  5. End-of-Life Care and the Role of Palliative Nursing: Examine the challenges and best practices in providing palliative care to patients at the end of life, including ethical considerations.

  6. Nursing Leadership and Its Impact on Healthcare Quality: Investigate the role of nursing leadership in shaping the quality of care and patient safety in healthcare organisations.

  7. Cultural Competence in Nursing: Explore the importance of cultural competence in nursing practice and its impact on the delivery of culturally sensitive care.

  8. Infection Control Practices in Nursing: Evaluate the effectiveness of infection control practices in healthcare settings and their role in preventing healthcare-associated infections.

  9. Nursing in Disaster Preparedness and Response: Examine the role of nurses in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery and their contributions to community health resilience.

  10. Neonatal Nursing and Developmental Outcomes: Investigate nursing practices in neonatal care units and their impact on the developmental outcomes of preterm infants.

How Many Nurses Are There in the UK?

There are 731,058 Nurses on the permanent NMC register in the UK as of March 2023. This is up from just over 700,000 the previous year. The total number of people on the NMC permanent register is 788,638. This includes Nurses, Midwives, and Nursing Associates.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

While a nursing degree is an excellent choice for those interested in healthcare, there are several other degrees that can complement a nursing career or provide alternative pathways within the healthcare field. Here are some degrees to consider alongside or instead of a nursing degree, depending on your interests and career goals:

  1. Medicine (MBBS/MD): If you have a strong interest in clinical practice and aspire to be a doctor, pursuing a degree in medicine is a common choice. It typically leads to careers as physicians or surgeons.

  2. Dentistry (BDS/DDS): For those interested in oral health and dental care, a degree in dentistry can be a rewarding choice, leading to a career as a dentist.

  3. Pharmacy (PharmD): A pharmacy degree prepares you to become a pharmacist, working with medications, patient consultations, and drug management in various healthcare settings.

  4. Physiotherapy (DPT): If you’re interested in physical therapy and rehabilitation, a Doctor of Physiotherapy degree can lead to a career as a physiotherapist.

  5. Occupational Therapy (OT): Occupational therapy degrees prepare you to help patients regain or improve their ability to perform daily activities after injury or illness.

  6. Radiography (BSc Radiography): Radiographers work with medical imaging technologies, such as X-rays and MRIs, and play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating patients.

  7. Biomedical Science (BSc Biomedicine): This degree focuses on the study of human biology and can lead to careers in research, laboratory work, or diagnostic services.

  8. Nutrition and Dietetics (BSc Nutrition/Dietetics): Nutritionists and dietitians help individuals and communities make informed dietary choices for better health.

  9. Psychology (BSc Psychology, MSc Psychology): A degree in psychology can be useful for those interested in mental health, counselling, or working with patients in a therapeutic context.

  10. Medical Laboratory Science (BSc MLS): Medical laboratory scientists perform clinical tests and analyses to assist in disease diagnosis and patient care.

These degrees cover a wide range of healthcare-related professions, and your choice should align with your interests and career goals. Remember to research each field thoroughly to determine which one suits your passions and aspirations in the healthcare sector. Additionally, you may consider postgraduate degrees or certifications to further specialise in your chosen area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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