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The Community Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) Higher Apprenticeship programme is designed to equip Postgraduates with the skills required for Community Specialist Practice.

The Higher Apprenticeship programme is available full time (54 weeks) or part time (106 weeks).

Four pathways are available:

  • District Nursing (DN)
  • General Practice Nursing (GPN)
  • Adult Social Care Nursing (ASCN)
  • Community Children’s Nursing (CCN).

Each pathway has a distinct approach to its delivery; however, all share a more practice focused delivery, with a 60/40 split between clinical practice and protected learning time at Northumbria University respectively. This will allow achievement of your 20% minimum Off The Job (OTJ) hours in line with apprenticeship standards. This ensures that the specialist field of practice focuses on the specialist skills required for the pathway. This is evident in the optional modules and as pathway-focused learning and teaching across all modules.

Apprentices also benefitting from integrated learning with fellow community specialist practitioner apprentices. This higher apprenticeship programme has been innovatively designed and coproduced with a vast range of stakeholders from all pathway routes in both health and social care, in order to truly reflect contemporary specialist practice need and service provision requirements. The apprentice journey has been a focal point of the higher apprenticeship programmes development, working with past and current SPQ apprentices to ensure an apprentice-centric philosophy underpinning the higher apprenticeship programme outcomes. 

Full Time and Part Time Overview:

This higher apprenticeship programme is delivered both part time and full time. The full time 54-week programme (plus 7 weeks incorporated annual leave entitlement) and the 106-week (2 year with 14 weeks annual leave incorporated) part time programme will provide opportunities to develop your understanding of Community Specialist Practice and capitalise on opportunities for applied learning contextually relevant to your area of specialist practice. Both full-time and part-time routes will have a 60/40 split between clinical practice and protected University theoretical learning and study time respectively. This will allow achievement of your 20% minimum Off The Job (OTJ) hours in line with apprenticeship standards.

Within your area of specialist practice (DN, GPN, ASCN or CCN), the higher apprenticeship programme adopts a distinctive work-based and teaching philosophy which places emphasis upon a balance of knowledge and skills development designed to deliver a tangible business or individual apprentice benefit. This will ensure as a specialist practitioner, you are suitably qualified to the standards required by the NMC (2022)3 for specialist practitioners in the community within your specific field of practice.


Higher Apprenticeship- Postgraduate Diploma in Community Specialist Practice – District Nursing 

The Specialist Practitioner Qualification - District Nursing is critical to effective team leadership and caseload management. District nurses are advanced autonomous practitioners who deliver and manage complex healthcare within the home based on need, and across a wide range of illnesses. They use management and risk skills to adapt to changing situations, case load management and care coordination, providing education to staff, patients and carers. District nurses prevent ill health and promote wellbeing through the recognition of population and public health demonstrating awareness and understanding of epigenetics and genomics, reducing hospital admissions, and improving quality of life, communicating across the health care system to enable people to be cared for in their place of choice. The Specialist Practice Qualification - District Nursing ultimately prepares postgraduate nurses to practise autonomously in the community, deliver holistic care, manage complex caseloads, prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, and promote patient comfort and safety. 

Higher Apprenticeship- Postgraduate Diploma in Community Specialist Practice - Childrens Community Nursing 

Community Children’s Nurses (CCN) are autonomous practitioners working collaboratively with infants, children, young people, and their families/carers ensuring health needs are supported and met in a variety of community settings. They deliver high quality and complex health care for those with acute/long term conditions, disabilities and complex conditions, life-limiting and life-threatening illness including those requiring palliative and end of life care. The CCN role is highly complex, always evolving and requires skills in negotiating, coaching, teaching, innovation, assessing risk and shared decision making in areas of complex clinical care that may have limited evidence base. The Specialist Practice Qualification will provide an excellent postgraduate higher apprenticeship programme ensuring the CCN workforce is enabled to develop the advanced level knowledge, skills, and experience for working in the community. 

Higher Apprenticeship- Postgraduate Diploma in Community Specialist Practice - General Practice Nursing 

A Specialist Practice Qualification General Practice Nursing (GPN) prepares the GPN to work autonomously addressing the complexities in prevention of ill health and promotion of wellbeing. In addition to a wide range of clinical skills sets, they are instrumental in managing individual and population health. They require skills in negotiation, coaching, teaching collaboration with other agencies and services in supporting people and their carers to enable them to live safely and confidently at home, managing their own conditions wherever possible. The Specialist Practice Qualification also prepares the GPN to adapt and manage a range of models of care provision and lead future GPN education and training in practice. 

Higher Apprenticeship- Postgraduate Diploma in Community Specialist Practice - Adult Social Care Nursing 

Within adult social care settings (care homes, independent care provision, and care closer to home), nurses are normally the lead clinician, carrying a significant burden of responsibility for both clinical and holistic care of individuals, and leadership and management for adherence to organisational legislation and policy. A Specialist Practice Qualification Adult Social Care nursing will benefit nurses in these roles by providing specialist knowledge, skills, and attributes. These will be valued and provide assurance of expertise and provision of high-level complex care for residents and families and owners/operators of nursing and residential homes of all sizes. 

Course Information

Level of Study

Mode of Study
1 year Full time or 2 Years Part time

Nursing, Midwifery & Health

Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University


September 2024

Fee Information

Register your interest

Entry Requirements 2024/25

Standard Entry

Admission onto a higher or degree apprenticeship can only take place if applicants are currently employed and their employer has a training agreement in place with Northumbria University.

Applicants should normally have:

A minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in any subject.

Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and employed as a first level nurse.

A valid UK driving license with appropriate insurance for business use (if required).

If undertaking V300 Non-Medical Prescribing, they must also demonstrate the following at the point of application: 

  • Undertake a history, clinical/health assessment and make a diagnosis in practice relating to where you intend to prescribe (if undertaking Advanced Clinical Skills as part of the SPQ, this will be sufficient evidence). 
  • Have in place (or will have in place), an appropriate indemnity arrangement for their prospective role as a prescriber. 
  • Have a clinical placement (e.g., ward, GP surgery) with an educational audit in place or have completed the non-medical prescribing ‘self-audit’ for practice learning prior to enrolment on the module. 
  • Have support from a manager, employing organisation or other appropriate authority and supply their name and contact details.

RPEL (Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning) can be used by applicants without the required academic accreditation to demonstrate their suitability to undertake the course, in the form of a portfolio submission as part of the application to the University. 

International qualifications:

If you have studied a non UK qualification, you can see how your qualifications compare to the standard entry criteria, by selecting the country that you received the qualification in, from our country pages. Visit


English language requirements:

International applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 with 7 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS.  You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section. Visit

GCSE Requirements:

Applicants will need Maths and English Language at minimum grade 4/C, or Functional Skills English and Maths at level 2 and be able to provide evidence of these qualifications.

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Any Questions?

Our Applicant Services team will be happy to help.  They can be contacted on 0191 406 0901 or by using our Contact Form.

Accessibility and Student Inclusion

Northumbria University is committed to developing an inclusive, diverse and accessible campus and wider University community and are determined to ensure that opportunities we provide are open to all.

We are proud to work in partnership with AccessAble to provide Detailed Access Guides to our buildings and facilities across our City, Coach Lane and London Campuses. A Detailed Access Guide lets you know what access will be like when you visit somewhere. It looks at the route you will use getting in and what is available inside. All guides have Accessibility Symbols that give you a quick overview of what is available, and photographs to show you what to expect. The guides are produced by trained surveyors who visit our campuses annually to ensure you have trusted and accurate information.

You can use Northumbria’s AccessAble Guides anytime to check the accessibility of a building or facility and to plan your routes and journeys. Search by location, building or accessibility feature to find the information you need. 

We are dedicated to helping students who may require additional support during their student journey and offer 1-1 advice and guidance appropriate to individual requirements. If you feel you may need additional support you can find out more about what we offer here where you can also contact us with any questions you may have:

Accessibility support

Student Inclusion support

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

At Northumbria University, our higher and degree apprenticeships are more than a learning programme; they are a partnership. We work with organisations to create courses that meet the demands of businesses.



CPD and Short Courses

Our Continual Professional Development (CPD) courses are designed to open up exciting new possibilities for individuals and organisations. By increasing skills and knowledge and introducing new ways of thinking and working we create impact in performance at all levels.

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