MSc Early Years Practice Health Visiting

If you're a registered nurse or midwife on Part 1 or Part 2 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, this course will equip you with the higher level knowledge and skills to deliver safe and best practice in the role of Health Visitor.

Early Years Practice Health Visiting

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration MSc full-time: 24 months, MSc part-time: 36 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery blended


Nursing and Midwifery Council; Unicef UK Baby Friendly

Nursing Midwifery Council logo Unicef - baby friendly accreditation logo


This course will provide you, as a registered nurse or midwife on Part 1 or Part 2 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, with the opportunity to influence the health and social care provision of children and families. The course will equip you with the higher level knowledge and skills to deliver safe and best practice in the role of Health Visitor as defined in the NMC Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (NMC, 2022). 

The development and delivery of the course is supported by a multi-disciplinary collaboration with our NHS Health Board and Local Authority partners. This reflects the growing priorities that have been identified to provide an improved and more responsible level of care to support, protect and improve the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families.

You'll be taught by a group of world-leading academics and your experience is enhanced by working in collaboration with other faculties and researchers. The course features an equal split of theory and practice to ensure you can put everything you learn straight to work in a professional setting. A unique feature of our course is the provision of master classes delivered by expert and key note speakers. You’ll also benefit from a varied approach to teaching that includes webinars, online guided study, group-work, podcasts and experiential learning. Support and guidance is on hand from your personal tutor, as well as your Practice Supervisor and Practice Assessor. 

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

The course curriculum is designed to equip nurses and midwives to deliver safe and best practice in the role of Health Visitor, as defined in the NMC Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses, the Report from the Education Sub Group of the Children, Young People and Families National Advisory Group, and key legislation from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

The course focuses on three key themes:

  • wellbeing;
  • assessing and analysing children’s needs including the impact of children’s experiences on their wellbeing;
  • improving outcomes for children and their families.

Professional accreditation

Nursing and Midwifery Council

This course is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council by passing quality assurance standards on maintaining public protection and safety.

This course is also accredited by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) as baby friendly for implementing best practice in breastfeeding training.

Work placements

You’ll complete a work-based Health Visiting in Practice module which spans the entire duration of your studies. You’ll be assessed throughout it by a Practice Assessor who determines your eligibility for part-3 NMC registration.

Health Visiting in Practice is designed in collaboration with practice partners via a working group of practice assessors, lead nurses and practice education facilitators from the NHS.

Flexible learning

Our flexible degree structure means you can study the following modules from the MSc Early Years Practice Health Visiting individually as stand-alone continuing professional development (CPD) short courses:

These modules can link into appraisal systems such as the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework to help you record your professional development as you study.

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

You’ll be supported in your studies by a group of influential academics with strong and established research profiles, public health experience and a wealth of world-class publications.

In REF 2021, 100% of our research environment, 80% of our research impact and 83% of our overall research in Allied Health Professions and Nursing was classed as world leading or internationally excellent.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

To gain entry to the MSc/PGDip Early Years Practice (Health Visiting), you must meet the following requirements.

  • Valid registration as a nurse or midwife on either parts 1 or 2 of the NMC professional register. We would welcome applications from nurses working in all fields of nursing (Adult, Child, Learning Disability and Mental Health) and midwives.
  • The ability to study at degree level (minimum academic level SCQF Level 9) (NMC 2004; Standard 5).
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills and competence beyond your initial NMC registration, i.e. normally two years’ post registration experience as a registered nurse or midwife-however, other relevant professional experience can be considered. Each individual application is considered on their own merit.
  • In order to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) practice requirements for the programme, you’ll need to be supported by an NHS Health Board/LA in an approved practice with a nominated practice assessor and practice supervisor. The placement will be negotiated between the University and NHS health boards and local authorities.

In order to be a registered Nurse or Midwife you will already have been required to prove your English language ability to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

Application procedure

Before you apply you'll need agreement from a Health Board that they can provide a practice placement and access to a Practice Supervisor and Practice Assessor who can supervise and assess your practice learning throughout the course.

In Scotland, Practice Supervisors/Assessors are currently supplied by NHS Health Boards and local authority partners.

To apply for a trainee health visitor post, applicants are encouraged to visit the recruitment pages of the NHS jobs website for Health Board and the MyJobScotland website for Local Authority Student Health Visitor adverts.

To support this process, the University of Stirling and partner Health Boards/Local Authorities will hold joint interviews for both the University selection process and Health Board provision of practice placements and supervising Practice Assessors. There can be secondment opportunities.

If you are successful at the interview stage you will then be sent an additional application pack and complete the University of Stirling's online application form.

University of Stirling online application process

To apply to Stirling you need to complete our online application form. Before you apply, you should check that you meet our entry requirements and have all your supporting documents ready.

The first stage of the process is to create a profile; you don't have to complete the application in one session - you can complete it in stages by saving each section and returning to complete it at a later date.

You will need to upload supporting documents with your application, which include transcripts and degree certificates and the additional application pack which will provide evidence of sponsorship.

Before you begin your application, we recommend that you read our guide to applying for a postgraduate course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in speaking and listening.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with a minimum of 60 in reading and writing and 59 in speaking and listening.
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 20 in speaking, 18 in reading and 23 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

This course leads to both an academic award and a professional qualification. It's made up of 50% practice learning and 50% theory, which are equally distributed across the course as prescribed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The course length is 52 weeks full time and 104 weeks part time.

Practice is integrated throughout the programme and each week students will have a mix of practice and theory including protected learning time. Placement hours in our fulltime course are:

  • Semester 1: 24 days
  • Semester 2: 25 days
  • Semester 3: 64 days (50 days consolidation)

Placement hours in our part time course are:

  • Semester 1: 12 days
  • Semester 2: 12 days
  • Semester 3: 18 days
  • Semester 4: 12 days
  • Semester 5: 9 days (12 days consolidation)
  • Semester 6: 38 days (consolidation)

The course includes six core modules specifically designed to enhance your knowledge and expertise in the care of children, young people and their families. On successful completion of these modules, you can exit with a Postgraduate Diploma and professional registration as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse-Health Visiting on Part 3 of the NMC Register. If you want to gain the award of Masters/MSc, you'll be required to complete the 45-week dissertation module.

Application procedure

Before you apply you'll need agreement from a Health Board that they can provide a practice placement and access to a practice supervisor and practice assessor who can supervise and assess your practice learning throughout the course.

To support this process, the University of Stirling and partner health boards or local authorities will hold joint interviews for both the University selection process and health board provision of practice placements and supervising practice assessors. There can be secondment opportunities.

Single modules

If you are looking to complete a single module prior to applying for the MSc Early Years Practice (Health Visiting) course, you can apply to the MSc Advancing Practice course as an associate student noting that you wish to apply to undertake one module. The choice of modules would either be Getting it Right for Every Child (20 credits), Principles and Practice of Child and Family Health and Wellbeing (20 credits) or Contemporary Leadership in Early Years Practice (20 credits). These may be subject to change as the course is being redesigned for Autumn 2023 to align with the newly published NMC SCPHN Standards (NMC 2022).


The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details


The course takes a blended approach to learning. Students will have access to our e-learning platform and may attend face-to-face seminars. A unique feature of the course is the provision of masterclasses. These classes are delivered by keynote speakers recognised for their expertise in the field of child health and wellbeing. The core teaching team are NMC registered SCPHN-HV, registered teachers and Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. They are all research active.

How you'll learn online

As part of the course's blended approach, students will have access to web-based materials such as podcasts, discussion forums and online webinars. 


A combination of assessment methods will be used across the modules of the course reflecting the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level of the course of study.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023-24 fees
  Scottish students
Fee for the PGDip £5,700
Fee for the Dissertation £1,900
Total fee for Masters £7,600


2024-25 fees
  Scottish students
Fee for the PGDip £6,075
Fee for the Dissertation £2,025
Total fee for Masters £8,100

This course is only available to students with a tuition fee status of Scottish.

Self-funding students are welcome to apply.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fees policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding


Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our UK/Republic of Ireland Alumni Scholarship or International Alumni Scholarship. 

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £12,167 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,770 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

Our MSc/PgDip in Early Years Practice (Health Visiting) is a Nursing and Midwifery Council accredited health visitor course.  After completing it, you’ll be eligible for employment as a qualified Health Visitor. You'll have advanced knowledge and skills in public health, leadership and assessment and decision making. Career opportunities can include advanced specialist practice, leadership and academic roles.

  • Take your career to the next level
  • Study a curriculum shaped by world-leading academics and healthcare professionals
  • Get the professional qualifications you need alongside invaluable transferrable skills

96% of our graduates were in employment or further study 15 months after graduation (Graduate Outcomes 2020/21, HESA).

Testimonial quotes

We’ve enjoyed working collaboratively with the University of Stirling to ensure our HV students are given the very best opportunities to develop both excellent academic and professional practice here in Tayside. The course delivers the quality nursing and health professional education that is needed for successful Health Visiting practice today.

NHS Tayside

Employability skills

As well as greatly enhancing your knowledge of Early Years Practice, your studies at the University of Stirling will help you to sharpen transferrable skills in areas such as:

  • Leadership
  • Analytical thinking
  • Research
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Decision making

What our students said

Bethan Murdoch
Bethan Murdoch
MSc Early Years Practice Health Visiting
I had a very supportive personal tutor who is passionate about academia, Health Visiting and improving practice, she pushed me to be better. Her passion was infectious; she made me passionate about what I was studying
Read Bethan's story
Charlotte Curley
MSc Early Years Practice Health Visiting
The programme provided me with a firm grounding for a career in Health Visiting
Read Charlotte's story

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