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MSc Advancing Practice

Enhance your career opportunities with our Masters in Advancing Practice – a flexible course for nurses, allied health professionals and social care practitioners.

Advancing Practice

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date 9 September 2019
  • Duration MSc part-time: 24 to 48 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Mixture of online and classroom delivery

Expand your health and social care expertise, gain new skills and make a difference to your practice with our MSc Advancing Practice. Working in partnership with clinical experts, patients, health and social care providers, our course is designed for any health and social care professional working in a clinical, education, management or research role.

The content of this Masters course in Advancing Practice has been strongly influenced by the fact that the health and social needs of the population are changing globally. We have an ageing population with changing patterns of ill-health and use of health and social care services. We understand the diverse needs of every individual.

Degree pathways

You can choose from two different degree pathways: 

MSc Advancing Practice (Clinical Practice)

Designed for health professionals in the UK whose work is primarily clinically focused, are working towards an advanced practice role or require advanced skills to meet the demands of their current role.

This pathway uses a flexible approach, with modules delivered online and face-to-face. Face-to-face attendance is required for the clinically-focused modules, as these are delivered by experts working in partnership with University staff to maximise different learning opportunities for students. 

MSc Advancing Practice

For any health professional – locally, nationally or internationally – who wants to gain advanced knowledge and expertise in contemporary healthcare issues to lead and influence within their role.

This pathway can be undertaken completely online. However if you choose one of the clinically focused modules, face-to-face attendance is required, as these are delivered by experts working in partnership with University staff to maximise learning opportunities for students.

Part-time, flexible study

Each pathway can be studied part-time over 2-4 years, giving you the flexibility to work around your professional and personal commitments as you earn this highly-regarded postgraduate qualification.

We welcome applications from those about to complete pre-registration courses (adult and mental health), those post-registration working in practice, or those studying as part of other post-graduate level courses.

Throughout your studies, you’ll learn from our world-leading academics and draw from the latest research to enhance your leadership skills and critical thinking.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    If you’re a health or social care professional, this course aims to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to advance both your career and your field of contemporary care.

    After graduating you’ll be able to:

    • use your knowledge and skills to inform the organisation and delivery of care
    • demonstrate advanced decision making skills
    • display an extensive understanding of advanced practice central themes, including leadership, facilitation of learning, research/development and advanced professional practice, and the underpinning principles
    • apply critical reasoning and argument skills to support evidence-based practice as part of health and social care delivery
    • evaluate theoretical models as a basis for informing advanced practice developments and innovation
  • Professional accreditations

    All modules place a strong emphasis on your practice, aligning course content with clinical scenarios and professional requirements at master’s level.

    Our Non-Medical Prescribing module meets the requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health Professions Council.

  • Flexible learning

    This flexible course can be completed part-time over 2, 3 or 4 years. Currently, we don't offer a full-time route.

    You can exit the course with a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or a Masters award.

    Each module, with the exception of the dissertation, is available as a stand-alone Continuing Professional Development (CPD) module.

    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

    You'll be taught by researchers in the field of nursing and healthcare. You’ll study Advancing Practice in the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport – ranked top in Scotland for Health Research in the UK’s most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).

    The Faculty is committed to ongoing excellence in research and teaching, and we take pride in the difference our work and our students can make in the world.

  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2:1 preferred) or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply. Current professional registration as a nurse or allied health professional is also required for entry to this MSc course.

    Only UK applicants are eligible for the MSc Advancing Practice (Clinical Practice) degree pathway. However, we welcome international applications for the standard MSc Advancing Practice pathway, which can be studied entirely online.

  • 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: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
    • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C or above
    • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B or above
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

    More information on our English language 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.

Our Masters in Advancing Practice equips you with valuable knowledge and skills that can boost your contribution to health and social care – and enhance your career progression.

You’ll study a range of core and optional modules, which will vary depending on which degree pathway you choose:

MSc Advancing Practice

You'll be required to undertake core modules in

  • Advanced Practice
  • Long-term conditions: Care and Management
  • Methodologies for project work in practice

Each is worth 20 credits. You'll also be required to choose another 60 credits and your dissertation (60 credits). Students who complete 180 credits will gain a master’s degree.

MSc Advancing Practice (Clinical Practice)

This pathway places a strong emphasis on:

  • advanced clinical outcomes
  • autonomous practice
  • critical thinking
  • high levels of decision-making and problem solving
  • values-based care
  • improving practice

You'll be required to undertake and apply the core modules in advanced clinical assessment and examination, non-medical prescribing and advanced practice to your own area of practice.

Students who complete 180 credits will gain a Masters degree.

Who can apply for this pathway?

Any nurse or allied health professional who is working at, or towards, an Advanced Practice level/title. Please note there are additional supervisory requirements to undertake non-medical prescribing and further information will be requested when you are ready to do this module.

Course modules

Advanced Practice (ADPP003, 20 credits)  September only
Module Co-Ordinator:  Dr Susanne (Sue) Cruickshank
Core module for both pathways

Advanced Clinical Assessment and Examination (ADPP011, 40 credits) September only
Module Co-ordinator: Dr David Fitzpatrick and Julia Scott
Face-to-face and online over two semesters
Core module for clinical practice outcome

Non-medical Prescribing (Advancing Practice) (ADPP013, 40 credits) January and September
Module co-ordinator: Lorna Stoppard
Face-to-face and online
Core module for clinical practice outcome

Trauma Informed Health: Critiquing Theory and Practice (ADPP025, 20 credits) September only
Module Co-ordinator: Margaret Conlon and Jenny Young
Option module

Diagnosis and decision making in Primary Care (ADPP033, 40 credits) September only
Co-ordinator: Julia Scott

Living with long-term conditions: Care and Management (20 credits) January only
Core module for Advancing Practice

Essentials of Mental Health Assessment – a multi professional approach (ADPP015, 20 credits) January only
Module Co-ordinator: Emma Lamont
Option module

Methodologies for project works in Practice (ADPP014, 20 credits) January only
Module co-ordinator: Dr Purva Abhyankar
Pre-requisite for dissertation module

Advancing Practice Dissertation (ADPP090, 60 credits) January and September
Module Co-ordinator: Marianne Fairley-Murdoch

Other options available for students doing the Advancing Practice Programme

Global issues in ageing societies (NURP012, 20 credits)
Part of Gerontology masters – Karen Watchman

Health and wellbeing people with dementia (NURP012. 20 credits)
Part of Gerontology masters – Karen Watchman


The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    This course includes a mixture of both classroom-based and online teaching. The exact ratio of online versus face-to-face learning will depend on which degree pathway and modules you choose. It’s possible for students on the core Advancing Practice pathway to complete the entire course remotely. We use the CANVAS virtual learning platform to deliver elements of teaching online, as well as podcasts, videos and other interactive materials. Video conferencing software will also be used, where appropriate, for distance-learners.

    Your teaching staff will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to critically reflect, review and write at Masters level – and to achieve a successful outcome. Online resources and face-to-face sessions are designed to engage and challenge your thinking as you acquire new knowledge, skills and competencies. You’re also encouraged to embed your learning within your practice, advancing your critical understanding and application by completing directed activities, reading, seminars and tutorials.

  • Assessment

    Assessments will reflect the specific requirements of the pathway and modules undertaken, and could include examinations, essays and practical tests.

  • Course director
  • Key staff
  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)


    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    EU and overseas 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

Our Advancing Practice course gives you the opportunity to develop transferable skills that optimise your impact on the experience of individuals, families and service providers within a range of clinical, social and pastoral settings – both in the UK and internationally.

All modules are related to the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework, enabling you to clearly identify the core and specific dimensions which can be achieved when you successfully complete a module. All modules can be linked to specific professional capability/competency frameworks within your practice area.

  • 1st in Scotland for Health Sciences research (REF 2014)
  • Over 96% of University of Stirling graduates are in employment or further education within six months of graduating (HESA 2017)

The Advancing Practice MSc is a means of supporting your professional development plans and career progression. The University’s health and social care courses are taught by world-leading experts. We were ranked 1st in Scotland for Health Sciences in the most recent Research Excellence Framework survey, so you can be confident that a Masters in Advancing Practice from Stirling has the power to help you redefine your future.

  • Employability skills

    After completing our Advancing Practice course or individual modules, you’ll be able to:

    • demonstrate extensive and critical knowledge of the central themes of advanced practice - leadership, facilitation of learning, research/development and advanced professional practice
    • apply critical reasoning and argument skills to support evidence-based practice as part of health and social care delivery
    • evaluate theoretical models as a basis for informing advanced practice developments and innovation
A postgraduate degree, particularly in a specialty like mine, is another strong consolidating factor in a CV. It helped me become the first Practice Nurse in Gastroenterology in my country and that has been more than just a promotion for me.
Joe Garzia
Malta MSc Advancing Practice
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The course has enhanced my study and academic skills, for example, my ability to critique academic material along with using quality improvement methods to improve practice.
Debbie O’Reilly
Scotland MSc Advancing Practice
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