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PGDip Mental Health Nursing (with professional registration)

PG Dip Mental Health Nursing video
  • UCAS Code:
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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

One of the primary roles of a mental health nurse is to enable and educate, encouraging those experiencing mental health issues to progress towards recovery. This course prepares you to work in a variety of mental health settings with a diverse range of people. You'll gain experience within inter-professional practice and develop skills in mental health nursing across the lifespan.  

You'll rehearse practice skills in our dedicated suites, allowing you to integrate your theory into practice in a safe environment. You'll also experience at least 2,500 hours of placements which is required by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). Because of this requirement, the course duration is a minimum of three years to ensure you gain this valuable experience. The health economy is rapidly changing and future nurses are likely to be located in a broader range of workplaces. Your placement opportunities will therefore be in a diverse range of settings which include the growing independent sector as well as care within the community, preparing you to work effectively and meet the health care needs of an increasing ageing population. After graduating you'll have met the standards and competencies set by the NMC to register as a mental health nurse.

This is a pre-registration nursing course that has been adapted for those students who already have a degree. We also offer a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Nursing if you don't have a degree. Students on this PG Dip course will work alongside the BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing students; however some units will be grouped with other PG Dip students from other nursing pathways, and your academic tutor will focus on your individual development at Master's level.

94% of our final year BSc (Hons) students said they have been able to access specialised equipment, facilities, or rooms when they needed to. Come along and attend one of our Undergraduate Open Day events where this course is represented, to find out more.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Please note that when applying for this course via UCAS, you will need to search for it in the undergraduate category.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


2 years, including mandatory placements


Nursing & Midwifery Council

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in any subject . If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 7.0 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements

Course details

Students must have a first degree to be eligible for this course. We also offer a BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing if you don't have a degree. Students on this PG Dip course will work alongside the BSc (Hons) Mental Health students; however some units will be grouped with other PG Dip students from other nursing pathways, and your academic tutor will focus on your individual development at Master's level.

You can view information on our facilities and take a 360 tour of our simulation suites here.

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. 

Year 1

Core units

  • Origins and Expressions of Mental Health: An introduction to key issues in the mental health field which allows you to reflect on the contemporary nature of mental health care and the values underpinning mental health nursing practice. You will learn about the biological, sociological and psychological factors that may impact on mental health and wellbeing. 

  • Acute Mental Health - Crisis, Wellbeing & Recovery: Gain knowledge and skills for working with people who are experiencing acute mental health problems. You'll explore the interaction between vulnerability, life events, chronic difficulties and coping skills in acute mental health care while learning to identify signs and symptoms of acute mental illness. This unit will help you assess health promotional activities such as relapse prevention, psycho education and medication management in reducing the negative effects of mental illness.

  • Physical Care in Mental Health Settings: Here you’ll develop an understanding of the physical health needs of clients in mental health settings. You’ll discuss ways in which the physical health of clients might be assessed and monitored, identify the key presenting features of a range of common physical illnesses and demonstrate an understanding of physical care skills required in mental health services.

  • Communication and Therapeutic Approaches in Mental Health: You will explore a range of communication strategies and therapeutic approaches within mental health care. It will cover the effect of personal values, attitudes, individual difference and diversity on communication with others while analysing a range of therapeutic approaches within mental health.

  • Mental Health, Wellbeing and Humanised Care in Later Life: This unit will cover the potential impact of ageing on the wellbeing of an individual, as well as the personal meaning of dementia for the individual and their carer, including the care and treatment involved and the ethical and legal issues which surround this particular illness.

  • Developing Knowledge for Practice: This unit will provide you with essential practice experiences to develop competence to the requirements of the NMC by the second year progression point.

Year 2

Core units

  • Supporting Recovery Journeys: Gain practical skills will explore the underlying principles of care for people with serious mental illnesses. This unit combines practice, theory and service user experience in the drive to improve recovery.

  • The Context of Mental Health: Communication, Leadership & Management:  Develop your understanding of how mental health services are organised and explore leadership and management skills. You'll assess approaches to commissioning mental health services, analyse the legal and ethical dimension of registered practice, review approaches to clinical supervision and assess theories of change and change management in mental health settings. 

  • Principles of Enquiry and Evidence Based Practice in Health & Social Care: An introduction to debates on approaches to enquiry and knowledge production, and how different philosophical assumptions shape the research process and knowledge claims.

  • Advanced Principles of Enquiry and Evidence Based Practice in Health & Social Care: You'll develop a proposal for a research study, practice development or comprehensive review project. A range of research methods and analysis techniques will be introduced throughout the unit. These focus on critically analysing the findings.

  • Mental Health Nursing in Specific Settings: This unit explores a range of mental health services and identifies nursing roles within them. You’ll identify the socio-political context of service development, examine the therapeutic approaches and evaluate the nature of assessment and intervention within mental health care provision.
  • Evaluating Knowledge for Practice: This professional practice unit provides a range of practical opportunities which you require to demonstrate your competence to achieve the identified NMC (2010) skills, knowledge, attitudes, values and technical abilities for entry to the NMC register.

You'll experience various assessments including written assignments, group presentations, examinations, assessment of clinical competence in the practice-learning environment and on placement, practice reflection and developing a portfolio.

Your reflective learning sessions during and after placements will prepare you to step into advanced practice roles after getting your qualification. These will ensure you have the necessary knowledge and skills for engaging in further learning throughout the rest of your career.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for PGDip Mental Health Nursing (with Professional Registration).

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

As a Nursing student, you will spend 50% of your time on the course in a practice placement setting, and the remaining 50% studying - whether at home, at the library or on campus attending lectures, seminars or working under the guidance of our demonstrators in the Practice Skills suite.

The practice simulation suites are a great way for you to try your hand at practical skills before you go on placement, as they provide a safe environment and allow you to continually work on skills necessary in the workplace. Watch the video for more details.

All of the practice placements on the mental health nursing course are undertaken in mental health settings which are as diverse as our client group. This will give you a rounded experience of nursing and to fulfil the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

On the programme, you should experience some this diversity through both hospital and community placements. Ther are opportunities to undertake an overseas placement where you will be able to experience mental health care in a differing culture, and there is the opportunity to work within specialist areas such as eating disorders, child and adolescent, addictions and forensic mental health.

Overall, you'll undertake placements in a broad range of settings, including within a Community Mental Health Team, an Older Persons Unit, Acute services, Recovery with the option of placements with specialist teams who work in areas such as drug and alcohol treatment, forensic services and eating disorders.

What hours do you work? 

When on placement you are required to work 150 hours every four weeks and experience the full 24 hour shift pattern to include 12-13 hour shifts, weekends and night shifts. You will follow the shift pattern of your allocated placement mentor, which means you cannot chose which days you work. You'll be expected to spend a minimum of 40% of your time on placement with your mentor, as required by the NMC.

Although your term time address and method of transport are taken into consideration when allocating your placements there is an expectation that all students will have to travel across large areas including some of a more rural nature to reach their placements. Once you have been allocated your locality this will remain for the remainder of your time on the course. Placements are organised by locality – Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and South Wiltshire. It is advised that you arrange your term time accommodation close to your placement locality rather than your taught site.

Placements and travel costs

Your theoretical learning will predominantly be based at our Lansdowne Campus (though Talbot campus is also utilised). Clinical placements will be in a variety of places within Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire in order to provide the necessary breadth of experience. This will involve some travel, and may require you to find short-term accommodation in order to participate in placements.

Your placement travel expenses will be reimbursed from the Department of Health and Student Finance England.

If the placement locality you have been assigned is outside of the BH postcode area (e.g. Salisbury, Dorchester or Yeovil), you may be eligible for support for travelling to Bournemouth to study. Criteria and detailed information on the support available can be found here.

Placement localities

  • Dorset: Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust around Bournemouth and Poole or West Dorset
  • Wiltshire: The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, primarily across the Salisbury area
  • Hampshire: The Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Somerset: The Somerset Partnership NHS Trust

Please note, occasionally to ensure the best practice experience placements will also be within other areas.

Each of our NHS-funded training courses contains a significant amount of placement experience, with this often being undertaken in outlying areas rather than solely in towns/cities. You need to consider this when making your application and be clear about what you will be undertaking. You will need to consider the realities of training within that geographical area and be specific about which would be suitable for you – whilst being flexible may in some circumstances increase your chances of success, being unrealistic will lead to problems. Don't forget to ensure that you take note of the locality you have been assigned when you receive your offer letter and arrange your accommodation accordingly. 

Selection criteria

Background and experience

We are looking for applicants who:

  • Have an interest in Mental Health Nursing as well as the motivation and commitment to undertake the course
  • Have undertaken relevant work experience
  • Have a clear understanding of the profession
  • Can demonstrate personal skills and qualities relevant to the course

It is recommended that you have some care experience, preferably in a mental health setting. If you do not have any relevant experience, you will be required to demonstrate at interview that you have a clear insight into the nature of the profession that you will be training to enter.

Our courses are built around the NHS constitution values, and when assessing your application we will take these values into consideration:

  • Working together for patients
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts.

Find out more about the NHS Constitution principles.

Selection method

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Please note that interviews are part of our selection process and you must be able to demonstrate at interview that you show the necessary insight into nursing, as well as the motivation and commitment to become a nurse.

What to expect at interview

The interview session starts with a talk and tour of the Lansdowne Campus by current Mental Health Nursing students. This is followed by a group exercise lasting approximately half an hour and then an individual interview. The individual interviews last approximately 15 minutes and you should expect to be here for approximately four hours.

There will be a maximum of 15 applicants at each session for the group exercise. You may wish to bring some reading material to keep you occupied whilst waiting for your individual interview. You will be allocated the time for your individual interview on arrival so you will be aware of how long you may have to wait. Please arrive in good time; if you are late we reserve the right to refuse entry to the session.

You can find further information about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences here.

International applicants: if shortlisted for interview you will be notified of the interview arrangements once your application has been processed. 

Additional reference

In addition to the reference on your UCAS form, once we’ve received your application we will contact you to ask for a second reference; this can be a different teacher/ lecturer, employer or person who knows you in a professional capacity.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • Possession of a 2:2 degree or equivalent. A science degree (biological science, psychology or social science) is preferred but not essential. 
  • A minimum of 4 GCSEs (grades A*-C) including Maths and English or appropriate Key Skills Level 2. A science subject is preferred.

You’ll need to demonstrate that you have relevant experience and learning prior to entering the course via a portfolio of evidence. A template for this portfolio will be sent to you once you've been interviewed for the course. Your portfolio will include demonstrating you have undertaken 600 hours of practice experience in a health or care environment to show you have good skills, knowledge and understanding of the profession, ideally this will be paid experience. This experience needs to be completed before you start the course, and is equivalent to 3-4 months of full-time work but may be achieved through part-time work over a longer period. It may be possible for some applicants to gain the required experiences in a voluntary capacity.  Personal/family caring responsibilities will not be considered.  For examples of practice experience that meet the requirements, please view the Entry Portfolio guidelines below. If you remain unsure if your practice experience meets our requirements please do email Dr Steven Trenoweth, Admissions Tutor for advice:   

View the portfolio template you'll need to complete after being interviewed. 

Read the Entry Portfolio guidelines

Further information

Graduates who obtained their degree more than five years ago may be considered for the course provided they can demonstrate evidence of successful recent and relevant study, at an appropriate level.  For example, the Open University provides several highly relevant courses of study at degree level. Guidance for recent study is provided on an individual basis and entry to the course would be conditional on successfully completing such study.  

Practice experience may be gained during the application period but it must be completed at least six weeks prior to course commencement to allow the claim to be processed and approved.

Although postgraduate diploma students are regularly taught alongside BSc Hons nursing students, the level of assessment will be at master's level (Level 7) in a number of units; applicants are therefore required to demonstrate considerable capacity for self-management and independent learning during the application process.

Unsuccessful applicants may be eligible to be considered for the three year BSc Mental Health Nursing course.

International entry requirements

English language requirements 

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  •  IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading

View further information about our English language requirements.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our international entry requirements page.

Language testing applicants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA

All overseas applicants are required to meet the NMC standard for English language regardless of where they come from. This makes sure that all applicants meet the same standard in a system that is equitable, fair and non-discriminatory. There are no current plans by the NMC to waive the IELTS requirements for these countries.

Non-academic requirements

Occupational Health (OH) Checks

Nursing is physically and mentally demanding and you will  need to be mentally and physically able to undertake your chosen course. Places are offered subject to passing an OH check, and this will be carried out at the University Hospital Southampton. Health conditions  need to be dealt with on an individual basis e.g. deafness, blindness, eczema (or other dermatological allergic reactions) on exposed areas, epilepsy,  back problems, or mental health conditions, eating disorders and other disabilities. These do not automatically exclude you but please ensure that you fully disclose your condition  to OH. The University can then consider the recommendations made by OH and whether reasonable adjustments can be made to support you on your chosen course. If you require more guidance please contact us for more information.

You will be required to provide a record of your immunity status or be vaccinated or have the required blood tests. Please see this table for the required immunisations. You may need to ask your GP or current OH department or find your childhood vaccination record  for details of your past immunisation records. You should be aware that there may be charges made (for which you will be liable) relating to your gaining the appropriate immunity required prior to starting your training programme.

Refusing Immunisations

The University has an expectation that all students will comply with the vaccination programme.  This ensures that you will be able to undertake the wide range of training placements that your course  will require. Occasionally some vaccinations  are contraindicated in certain medical conditions. OH will advise the University in these cases.The University will consider students on an individual basis. Refusal to have immunisations will result in the student not being allowed to attend practice placement and being withdrawn from the course. There is no opportunity to appeal against the requirements of the immunisation policy.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (previously known as CRB)

All successful applicants will be subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barred List check; this will be a condition of offer and will need to be completed prior to commencing the course. Please see the Government website for the most up to date information.


After completing this course, you will possess the practical skills and theoretical knowledge for embarking on a rewarding career in mental health nursing.

Among the roles you can go into after graduating are:

  • Mental health nurse in an in-patient environment (e.g. acute admissions unit, elderly care, treatment wards, psychiatric intensive care unit or rehabilitation)
  • Community mental health nurse
  • Staff nurse
  • Specialist nurse (covering the likes of eating disorders, addictions, forensic psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry or psychological therapist).

Industries worked in

  • NHS (hospital and community)
  • Private and independent health care sector (nursing homes and private hospitals)
  • Education
  • Academic research.

Our graduate employment rate for the BSc (Hons) route of this course is 100%*, we currently do not have any graduate employment statistics for the PG Dip route of the course. 

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Postgraduate Diploma, you can look into our range of Master's programmes.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the nutrition sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below. 

Dr Sarah Eales

Sarah Eales is the Programme Leader and has worked within the field of Liaison Mental Health Care for fifteen years, as a researcher, clinician and academic. Sarah completed a PhD on the Service User Experience of Liaison Mental Health Care in 2013. Until 2014 Sarah ran a BSc/ MSc 15 credit module in Liaison Mental Health Care at City University, London.. As a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at City University London Sarah was the Programme Manager for the Pre-registration Mental Health Nursing programme for 6 years. She joined the academic staff at Bournemouth University on 2014 as a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing.

Dr Steve Trenoweth

Dr Steve Trenoweth has been a mental health nurse for 23 years. He has worked in a wide variety of mental health settings before entering higher education in 2003. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University. He has authored several books, chapters and articles in nursing and health care, and is an Editorial Board member of the British Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

Dr Andy Mercer

Andy’s primary role is as Senior Academic/Professional Lead in Mental Health & Learning Disabilities.

His background is in nursing and he’s worked in acute mental health care before moving into education, firstly as a tutor within the NHS, and later as a senior lecturer in Higher Education. Andy’s principal interests are in nursing philosophy and the ethics of caring, and in mental health policy. In his current role he’s involved in the delivery and management of education programmes, research supervision, and research and practice development activities in mental health.

Sonya Chelvanayagam

Sonya Chelvanayagam is a lecturer in mental health nursing, she is a registered mental health nurse and adult nurse who has worked in a variety of care services such as HIV and gastroenterology. This has involved Sonya in working with people who experience either physical or mental illnesses or a combination of physical symptoms and mental health problems.

Sonya’s research interests include mental and physical health, gastrointestinal disorders and related psychopathology, eating disorders, stigma, bariatric surgery.

Zoe Cowie

Zoe started her career as a general nurse before moving into mental health nursing, where she worked firstly in acute admissions and then in an adult community mental health team for 15 years. During this time she also undertook her degree in health care and specialist courses in psychodynamic and cognitive analytic therapies.

In 2002 Zoe joined Bournemouth University as a Practice Educator and then in 2014 moved to a lecturer post in the mental health nursing team. At the moment Zoe is studying for a PhD looking at the lived experiences of adults who grew up with parents who were suffering from serious mental illness.

Dr Tula Brannelly

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Professional body accreditation of the course

  • Disclosure and Barring Service Check

  • Occupational Health Check

  • Uniforms

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions & specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad), fieldwork and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service;
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/ improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team
  • DVD/USB submission consumables where requested for assignment submission.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: find our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our unilinx bus service operates in the local areas, offering a subsided travel rate. We also have a large number of bike storage facilities.
  • sportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on our SportBU webpages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Travel to placement is your responsibility; you may be able to reclaim costs from NHS Student Bursaries at
  • Supplementary Uniform supplies
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/ securing placements.
  • Professional Body membership/registration post qualification
  • Internet access at discretion of your accommodation provider
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website

Repeat units

For students who need to repeat units, the NHS will not normally fund tuition fees or bursary unless mitigating circumstances have been submitted and approved by the University Exam Board for their programme.  For those students who submit mitigating circumstances to the Exam Board, the University will apply automatically on their behalf.

Any decision on funding is within the remit of the NHS only and if funding is not approved then students will need to self-fund their tuition fees for each unit to be repeated and associated maintenance.  Fees are currently £1,500 per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.  

Course changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text
14/07/2017 Year 1 unit changed from 'Nursing Knowledge From Philosophy to Practice' to 'Foundations of Mental Health' Course details

Nursing Knowledge From Philosophy to Practice: Broaden and deepen your understanding of the historical philosophical, theoretical and political influences on the development of modern adult nursing.  The unit will enable you to explore the core values that underpin the nursing framework philosophy from an adult nursing perspective and critically apply them to specific areas of clinical practice.

14/03/2017 Only IELTS qualifications will be accepted for English Language tests, we cannot accept equivalent qualifications. International entry requirements IELTS 7.0 with minimum 7.0 in each component or equivalent.
20/12/2016 Change to assessment method for Mental Health in Specific Settings (Year 3) from coursework to exam Programme Specification

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