Early Years Practice Health Visiting

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma


This course aims to equip nurses and midwives to develop an enhanced and applied knowledge base in Health Visiting Practice allowing you to exit with the required Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) recordable qualification as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN)-Health Visiting (NMC 2004).

The course is delivered in collaboration with NHS Health Board and local authority partners in Western Isles, Highland, Tayside and Forth Valley, combining academic teaching and practice learning throughout the course.

On successful completion of the course you will be able to respond to the demands of contemporary public health practice in the community and to work to influence and improve the standard of care for children, young people and their families.


Early Years Practice is an 'Approved programme' of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

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Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Mixture of online and classroom delivery, Campus based
  • Duration: Full-time - 1 year Part-time - 2 years
  • Start date:

    January 2018

  • Course Director: Alison Hackett
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download postgraduate prospectus

CPD Co-ordinator


Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport
University of Stirling

  1. You will gain a Masters degree or Postgraduate Diploma from a multi-award winning Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, led by a group of world-leading academics, with strong and established research records, real nursing experience and a wealth of world-class publications who will support you both personally and academically.
  2. This programme has been developed in close partnership with our practice partners, NHS Forth Valley, Highland and the Western Isles. User and carer, student and alumni representation have ensured the process of bringing together a curriculum that is fit for purpose and one that addresses the needs of both service providers and users.
  3. The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport has considerable experience in developing integrated health services for families across Scotland and is recognised for its world-leading maternal care and public health research.
  4. This programme has been approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council by passing Quality assurance standards on maintaining public protection and safety.
  5. Following graduation, you will be working towards the Scottish Government's vision of making Scotland "the best place to grow up". We have initiated and expanded our 'Getting it Right for Every Child' (GIRFEC) education in light of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

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 (NMC 2004), the Report from the Education Sub Group of the Children, Young People and Families National Advisory Group (CYPFNAG 2014) and key legislation from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Scottish Government 2014).  The key duties identified within current legislation are to promote, support and safeguard children’s wellbeing (Scottish Government 2014).  Thus, the course focuses on the following three key themes: 

  1. A focus on wellbeing
  2. Assessing and Analysing Children’s Needs including the impact of children’s experiences on their wellbeing
  3. Improving Outcomes for Children and their Families

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

All entrants to the MSc/PgDip in Early Years Practice (Health Visiting) Courses must meet the following requirements (NMC 2004):

  • Valid registration on the Professional register maintained by the NMC;
  • The registrant must have developed their own knowledge, skills and competence beyond NMC registration, i.e. normally two year’s post registration experience as a registered nurse or midwife however other relevant professional experience can be considered.
  • In order to protect the public the NMC registrants are required to have an up-to-date membership of the Disclosure Scotland: Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme
  • Arrangements made to have a Practice Teacher allocated to the student for the duration of the Course (allocated by the relevant health board area following successful interview).
  • Students must demonstrate the ability to study at degree level (minimum academic SCQF Level 9) (NMC 2004; Standard 5);
  • Understand the course requirements regarding length of course;
  • Support from Senior Practice Line Manager. 

English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email graduate.admissions@stir.ac.uk to discuss your course of study.

Application procedure

Students require a Practice Teacher to supervise and assess their placement learning. At this time in Scotland Practice Teachers are supplied by NHS Health Boards and local Authority partners. Recently Health Boards have advised that they are only able to provide this support to students that they are fully seconding onto the course. As a result we are not in a position to recruit any independent students.

To apply for a trainee health visitor post applicants are encouraged to access the recruitment pages of the NHS SHOW website for Health Board and the MyjobScotland website for Local Authority student Health Visitor adverts.

Fees and costs

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

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Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course will comprise 50% practice learning and 50% theory as prescribed by the NMC (2004: Standard 3). All course content has undergone detailed mapping to ensure compliance with the Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (NMC 2004) and the Scottish Government Report from the Education Sub Group of the Children, Young People and Families National Advisory Group (CYPFNAG) (Scottish Government 2014). This mapping exercise by the CYPFNAG has ensured that there is clear articulation between the Standards of Proficiency (NMC 2004) and contemporary Health Visiting practice which is fit for purpose in line with the Scottish Governments aspirations for the future workforce (Scottish Government 2013; 2014a). The core curriculum has been reviewed for relevance and suitability for the Health Visiting programme by Community Nurse Leads and the CYPFNAG (Scottish Government 2014)

The Course is designed to integrate both academic and practice learning simultaneously to allow students to have the opportunity to apply their learning, and connect theory and practice knowledge. The curriculum will be delivered through a combination of academic teaching days, which may be direct teaching or virtual learning; protected learning time, which comprises self-directed study using e-learning materials and individual materials; and practice learning time.

The course is studied at SCQF Level 11 and completion of the course will allow students to graduate with either a:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years Practice (Health Visiting)
  • Masters (MSc) in Early Years Practice (Health Visiting)

Students who enrol on the MSc course will have ability to exit following successful completion of the 6 core modules with the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years Practice (Health Visiting) and will register with the NMC as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (Health Visiting). Those who wish to gain the full masters qualification must complete the dissertation module EYPP10.

Both courses are available on full-time (1 year) or part time (2 years) routes.  


Students take the following SQCF Level 11 modules:

  • EYPP01: GIRFEC A Multi Agency Approach to Practice (20 credits)
  • EYPP02: Principles and Practice of Child and Family Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
  • APSPG02: Understanding Children and Young People’s Experiences: Assessment and Decision Making (20 credits)
  • APSPG03: Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People (20 credits)
  • EYPP03: Contemporary Leadership in Early Years Practice (20 credits)
  • NURU236: Health Visiting in Practice (20 credits)
  • EYPP10: Action Research (Dissertation Module) (60 credits)

Course Tutor

Each student is assigned a personal tutor who can provide advice and guidance on the submission of assignments and on the participants' overall progress on the course.

Delivery and assessment

Course Delivery

The course utilises a blended approach to learning with the content being supported by web based materials including podcasts and discussion forums. In addition to e-learning, students will attend face to face seminars, small group work and lectures.

A unique feature of the course is the provision of master classes. These classes are delivered by key note speakers recognised for their expertise in the field of child health and wellbeing.

The study days will be delivered at various locations:

  • Stirling Campus
  • Highland Campus
  • Ninewells Hospital, Dundee 


A combination of assessment methods will be used across the modules of the course reflecting the SCQF level of the course of study.


EYPP01 GIRFEC: A Multi-disciplinary Approach to Practice

“Getting it Right for Every Child” (GIRFEC) is the overarching framework for all of children and young people’s services in Scotland (Scottish Government 2014).  The key aspects of the GIRFEC framework have recently been legislated by the Scottish Parliament as the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.  The Act places a number of duties on Health Boards, Education Services and Local Authorities in relation to promoting, supporting and safeguarding children and young people’s wellbeing.  As a result of the legislation professionals from health, education and social care will be required to undertake new roles in practice for example all Health Visitors will undertake the role of Named Person. These changes bring many challenges and opportunities for a range of practitioners in both adult and children’s services. Students will critically explore the key drivers and theoretical frameworks that underpin the GIRFEC framework.

EYPP02 The Principles and Practice of Child and Family Health & Wellbeing

The National Outcome for all children in Scotland is that “Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed” (Scottish Government 2014).  To ensure children have the best start in life the provision of effective evidence based health, education and social care provision is essential.  The Scottish Parliament has recently legislated a definition of children’s wellbeing which places a duty on Health Boards, Education Services and Local Authorities to promote, support and safeguard children and young people’s wellbeing (Scottish Government 2014).  Students will be able to explore the key elements of public health and related health inequalities and consider the impact of related health inequalities on children and their families’ health and wellbeing. The module encourages students to examine the wide range of influences on children’s health and wellbeing to then consider the importance of intervening early in children’s lives to provide supporting interventions.

APSPG02 Understanding Children and Young People’s Experiences: Assessment and Decision Making

This module creates opportunities for students to examine current practice in assessment of risk and need.  Different models and approaches to assessment are considered in the light of current policy developments.  The latest research on children's experiences of abuse and neglect underpins a consideration of child-centred practice from universal to quaternary services.  Psychological and socio-psychological theories are examined in reaching a clearer understanding of the nature of judgements and decision making in child welfare and protection.  Students will come to the programme with different levels and areas of knowledge with regard to communication.  This module provides a shared understanding of the key messages and practices in relation to effective communication with children, young people and other adults and professionals.

APSPG03 Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People

This modules allows students to explore how their understanding of children's needs and their skills in analysis and decision making contribute to multi-disciplinary plans to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. The nature of professional relationships is considered in the light of contemporary literature and policy directions. Findings from inquiries and research are reviewed and applied to a critical analysis of individual practice and the wider child welfare and protection system. The module adopts a solution-focused approach and incorporates the University’s acknowledged expertise in the concept of Resilience to enhance and promote interventions that are focused on children's needs. The module seeks to improve practitioner's planning, implementation and review of care plans. The module facilitates a better understanding of the student's own role and the roles of others within the widening agenda for child welfare and protection.

EYPP03 Contemporary Leadership in Early Years Practice

The National Outcome for all children in Scotland is that “Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed” (Scottish Government 2014).  Health Visitors will be instrumental in the implementation of new legislation which underpins the duties and responsibilities for promoting, supporting and safeguarding children’s wellbeing (Scottish Government 2014).  To achieve this outcome the Scottish Government has committed to training over 500 new Health Visitors in Scotland over the next three years who will be identified as leaders to support health, social, education and third sector agencies to improve outcomes for children and young people.  This module will be integrated into the new health visiting programme to address the key leadership aspects of health visiting practice.

Leadership for effective practice has an increasing emphasis in contemporary healthcare and comprises a specific focus for knowledge and skills in the health visiting programme. 

NURU236 Health Visiting in Practice

The module integrates the Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (NMC 2004).  The module has been designed in collaboration with practice partners via a working group of practice teachers, lead nurses and practice education facilitators from NHS Western Isles, NHS Highland/Highland Council, NHS Tayside and NHS Forth Valley.  The module will be delivered in collaboration with Health Board and Local Authority partners specifically utilising the expertise of Community Practice Teachers.  Practice Teachers will assess students for fitness to register on part 3 of NMC register.

EYPP10 Early Years Practice in Health Care (Health Visiting): Action Research 

The Action research project will offer students the opportunity to engage with the strategic priorities for maximising the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families.  The student will be given the opportunity to develop a range of transferable skills that will support their academic progression and those which will assist them in the context of their professional Health Visiting practice.  Students, Practice teachers and Supervisors will also be encouraged to form a virtual community of practice that has the potential to provide a supportive and dynamic space to explore, develop, apply and disseminate examples of good practice. The module involves undertaking a small action research project in practice and can be studied part time over one year and full time over six months.

Recommended reading

A reading list will be provided on enrolment to the course.

Study method

Blended learning

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

1 Year full-time route (PgDip/MSc)
Spring Summer Autumn

GIRFEC: A Multi Agency Approach to Practice

Understanding Children and Young People’s Experiences: Assessment and Decision Making

Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People

Principles and practice of Child and Family Health & Wellbeing


Contemporary Leadership in Early Years Practice 

Health Visiting in Practice

(Spans the whole Programme commencing Spring Year 1)

2 Year part-time route (PgDip/MSc)
  Spring Summer Autumn
Year 1

GIRFEC: A Multi Agency Approach to Practice

Understanding Children and Young People’s Experiences: Assessment and Decision Making

Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People

Year 2

Principles and practice of Child and Family Health & Wellbeing


Contemporary Leadership in Early Years Practice

Health Visiting in Practice 

(Spans the whole Programme commencing Spring Year 1)

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

1st for Research


Our research is world class and is recognised for its quality and innovation. We are the premier faculty for health sciences research in Scotland.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014):

  • The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport came top for health research in Scotland and was ranked 12th in the UK overall;
  • Our research environment is outstanding and was rated as top-equal in the UK;
  • Overall nearly half of our research activity was rated as 4* placing us top in Scotland and 9th in the UK;
  • Nearly 90% of our peer-reviewed research papers were rated as being of international significance.

We are a new Faculty and will continue to build our capacity to deliver high-quality research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduces health inequalities through its impact on policy and practice.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


Our Stirling campus is also home to WithScotland, a key educational centre for child and adult protection.

Our staff

Alison Hackett - Course Director, Stirling Campus

Joyce Wilkinson - Lecturer, Stirling Campus

Duncan Helm - Senior Lecturer, Stirling Campus

Helen Whincup - Teaching Fellow, Stirling Campus

Kathleen Clarke - Lecturer, Stirling Campus

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

On completion of the course graduates will be eligible for employment as a qualified Health Visitor/ Specialist Community Public Health Nurse.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16
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