Nursing is a vital role within the healthcare system. You’ll be caring for people when they need it most, in an exciting, ever-changing and crucial job.

As a nurse, you’ll be looking after people in hospital or other clinical settings, listening to patients, assessing their needs, and working with a multi-disciplinary team. No two days are the same. It’s a high-pressured environment with high job satisfaction.

During your career, you can choose to specialise in areas like children’s health, mental health or community health. You can become a leader, or work all the way up to consultant if you choose to.

Nursing is still a very popular university choice and a job area that will continue to be in demand. 94% of nursing graduates are employed within six months of graduating. 

The impact you could make
  • Make a difference to people’s lives through care, attention to detail and innovation.
  • Become a leader, dedicated to medical advancement, effective treatment plans, and positive outcomes for patients.
  • Research and specialise in areas like learning disabilities, neonatal care or trauma.
What you could study
  • Introduction to clinical care
  • Physiology for health
  • Therapeutic approach and practice
  • Epidemiology
  • Complex care
  • Critical care
  • Public health
  • Planning patient care

Study options and Subject Spotlights

Options to study in this field include:

Subject Spotlights powered by Springpod UCAS Media Service

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Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are an alternative to apprenticeships or degrees.

They have been specifically designed with employers to ensure learners get the skills that employers have said they need. They are a quicker and cheaper alternative to a degree and can lead to higher wages early in a career.

See all Nursing Associate HTQs

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Example module
"My favourite module has been person-centred care and understanding the importance of holistically caring for a patient."
Second year adult nursing student, University of Lincoln
Work placement
"For work placement, I was placed on a haematology unit. I got to work with nurses that specialise in cancer and provide end-of-life care to patients."
Second year learning disability nursing and social work student, University of Salford

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some nursing courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects.Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Biology (prerequisite subject)
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Clinical practices and governance
  • Primary care
  • Surgery
  • Auditing
  • Risk analysis
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Teaching/mentorship
  • Planning
  • Teamwork

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying nursing. The following information is based on a typical nurse role.

Average salary
Up to £55,856
Available jobs
72,939 vacancies in the past year
5.83% growth over next 8 years

Career options

Emergency services

What is a…. travel nurse?

You may not have heard of a travel nurse, but if you're interested in a career in nursing and you don’t want to be stuck in one place then this role might appeal to you. Travel nurses are qualified nurses, usually with a few years’ experience, who then work on short-term contracts moving around the UK or abroad. Many choose to fill nursing vacancies at short notice in developing countries, and can make a big difference to people’s lives. It can also be a great way to further build up your CV and get a wide variety of experiences in a relatively short space of time. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study nursing at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from nursing applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (first teaching from Sept 2016) – DDM
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

The expert view

Royal College of Nursing
Nursing is incredible and provides you with a diverse and rewarding career across health and social care. Nurses don’t just work in hospitals. There are opportunities to work in GP surgeries, clinics, education, research, health informatics, nursing and residential homes as well as occupational health services, voluntary organisations, industry, and the military. Every day will be different, and you will continue to learn and develop throughout your career."

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.
  5. Find out more

Let's talk about... nursing apprenticeships

Not sure if a traditional degree is for you? Listen to our new podcast to learn more about studying degree apprenticeships in nursing.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around nursing with the following.

  1. The King’s Fund

    Independent charitable organisation that features videos and written content explaining how the NHS works and what is changing. A great way of keeping informed about one of the world’s (and nurses’) largest employers.
  2. Nurse Zara

    On YouTube and Instagram – Nurse Zara has day in the life’ videos and tips around things like time management, and working in different nursing specialisms. An easy way to get more informed about the job.
  3. Nurses on the ward

    A UK TV play documentary following nurses on a real-life hospital ward in Plymouth, showing the challenges, dramas, and rewards of this career. 


Second year adult nursing student, University of Lincoln

Learning new skills and being able to put them into practice, and being able to adapt to surroundings, building rapport relationships with MDT patients and families. I also enjoy being able to learn new techniques and leadership skills.

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your nursing journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • How can you show you’re caring and compassionate? Have you looked after a relative or neighbour, or become an advocate for someone locally? Maybe you’ve done some voluntary work or work experience that involved looking out for others, or been a mentor to someone younger?
  • What work experience or shadowing have you done at a hospital, GP practice or care home, and what did you learn about the challenges and realities of a caring profession?
  • How can you demonstrate that you work well under pressure, and have good time management? Maybe you’ve excelled in exams or other tests? Have you had a busy or demanding part-time job?
  • When have you been a good leader? Did you lead a group during a school residential, Scouts or a Duke of Edinburgh expedition? How did you motivate others and how did you cope if things went wrong?

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Which fields to study

Adult nurse

Adult nurses are expert members of a medical team. They plan and deliver vital treatment for a wide range of patients with different needs and conditions.

Children's nurse

Children’s nurses work as part of a supportive and inspiring team to provide young patients and their families with the vital care and compassion they need.

Mental health nurse

Mental health nurses build trusting relationships with their patients and provide vital support to people experiencing mental health problems, so they can lead happy and healthy lives.

Learning disability nurse

Learning disability nurses support people with learning disabilities, developing important relationships with their patients and helping them to lead fulfilling lives.