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  5. Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship - Information for employers

Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship - Information for employers

There are some specific eligibility criteria and entry requirements that need to be observed before an application for the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship is submitted.


Our Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship supports employers to develop their healthcare support workers (HCSWs) towards registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as either Adult, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health Nurses.

This webpage sets out some key information for our employer partners supporting apprentices on this programme. This information is correct at the time of publishing and this webpage will be reviewed regularly.

Please contact your local Staff Tutor or your Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager with any queries.


The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship is delivered in partnership between the OU and your organisation. The programme consists of at least 4,600 hours of learning which is split equally between theory and practice in accordance with the NMC (2018) Standards for pre-registration nursing programmes. Apprentices are also required to undertake off-the-job training time in line with ESFA funding rules.

The theory elements of the programme are delivered by the OU through online learning, tutorials, written assignments and wider reading. 

Practice learning is delivered with supervision within the workplace and on placement with support from the OU. Each of the three stages of the apprenticeship consists of 770 hours of supernumerary clinical practice, which is split across three practice learning periods per stage of the programme.

Our Future Nurse curriculum utilises an Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) approach. Based on active participation, EBL is a learner-centred teaching approach that motivates and engages apprentices with direct decision making and applied analytical thinking which results in competent, reflective, autonomous practitioners, able to think critically, and who can effectively problem-solve and respond in the ever-changing landscape of health and social care.

We see multiple benefits for apprentice development arising from such an approach – especially with the apprentice being proactive in their own learning, dissecting possible avenues of learning and pursuing these independently. If met with complex care in practice, these are skills that apprentices need to demonstrate in order to practice as safe and competent practitioners.


Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3


Introducing health and social care

(K*102) - 60 credits
600 Theory Hours

Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory

(K*210) - 60 credits
685 Theory Hours

Assimilating nursing: knowledge and theory

(K*325) - 60 credits
685 Theory Hours

BSc (Hons) Nursing awarded:

  • Adult
  • Children and young people
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health

Registration with the NMC.

EPA achieved.

Apprenticeship programme completed.

Introduction to healthcare practice

(K*104) - 60 credits
170 Theory Hours and 770 Practice Hours

Developing nursing practice

(K*211) - 60 credits
85 Theory Hours and 770 Practice Hours

Becoming an autonomous practitioner:

  • Adult
  • Children and young people
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health

(K*326/7/8/9) - 60 credits
85 Theory Hours and 770 Practice Hours

   Theory modules
   Practice modules


The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship has start dates in October and February each year. Comprising six 60 credit modules, the timelines are as follows:






An apprenticeship is a job with a formal programme of training which meets the requirements of the Apprenticeship Standard (in England), Framework (in Wales). The time that employers must allocate to this training can vary between programmes. The planned training hours will be detailed in the Training Plan. Note that in England and Wales, this time is called 'off-the-job training' in England and in Scotland, it is called 'protected time'. This is time for the apprentice to engage in formal learning with the OU during their contracted working hours. 

For full guidance, visit: 

This takes place in addition to the 2,300 hours of supernumerary clinical practice which your registered nurse degree apprentices will undertake on the programme. 


The primary work base

Usually, your apprentices’ normal place of work within your organisation will be their primary or core base for the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme. They will be based in their usual place of work for the third practice learning period in each stage of the programme. This allows the apprentices to consolidate the learning achieved in the other two practice learning periods which are based in external practice placement settings. Apprentices are supernumerary for each practice learning experience, including those undertaken whilst in their primary learning base.

As your apprentices’ primary practice base, your organisation will need to meet the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment. These standards state the quality assurance requirements for practice placement experiences, practice supervisors and practice assessors in each placement setting. Additionally, as the primary practice base, your organisation must also have a satisfactory current learning environment audit with either the OU or another higher education institution (HEI). If your organisation does not have a current learning environment audit in place (as required by the NMC, 2018), a member of the OU nursing team will complete this in conjunction with practice colleagues. The learning opportunities available within your organisation as the primary base will need to be mapped to the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses and the skills within Annexe A and B of these standards. This mapping exercise will assist with scoping the range of practice settings and practice learning opportunities required for the two external practice placement periods in each stage of the programme, ensuring that apprentices are provided with a range of experience to meet the Future Nurse standards requirements.

Supernumerary practice

Apprentices in practice or work-placed learning must be supported to learn, which requires them to be supernumerary for the specified number of clinical practice hours needed to complete the apprenticeship. The NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment define supernumerary as meaning that during these periods of practice learning, apprentices “are not counted as part of the staffing required for safe and effective care in that setting”.

External practice placements

In each of the three stages of the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme, your apprentices must undertake two further supernumerary practice placements in external placement areas away from their primary practice base. These external practice placement experiences must provide the opportunity for the apprentices to gain learning opportunities and skills which they are unable to meet within their primary practice base to meet the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses by the end of the programme.

An example of an external practice placement is a mental health registered nurse degree apprentice employed in a mental health rehabilitation unit, undertaking a practice placement in an acute mental health ward at the same hospital site, or a placement outside of the hospital e.g. a home treatment mental health rapid response team. The Future Nurse Curriculum: Practice Pathways – Principles and Guidance document contains information and examples regarding external practice placements.

Like the primary base, these external placement areas must also meet the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment with access to practice supervisors and assessors.

Supernumerary external placement experiences will need to be arranged by your organisation in consultation with us, and formal agreements are required prior to apprentices starting the programme. If apprentices go to other healthcare organisations for some of their external placements, there may be an expectation that your organisation enters into reciprocal arrangements for clinical placements, have honorary contracts or service level agreements in place, and that apprentices meet their mandatory and statutory training requirements.

If needed, we will introduce your organisation to contacts we have with local healthcare providers. In some areas the OU has no current partnerships, so your organisation will need to negotiate with local healthcare providers and confirm an agreement on placement provision.


There is a shared responsibility for the support of Registered Nurse Degree Apprentices between the OU and your organisation.

Requirements for practice learning areas and supervision

To meet the NMC (2018) Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education, apprentices’ primary base and external placement clinical areas are required to have a current learning environment audit in place. Learning environment audits look at the quality assurance of the clinical setting in terms of learning opportunities, Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports, availability of practice assessors and practice supervisors, compliance with staff appraisals and mandatory training. If your organisation does not have a current learning environment audit in place, a member of the OU Nursing Team will complete this in conjunction with practice colleagues.

It is important that there are enough trained and prepared practice assessors and practice supervisors available to support registered nurse degree apprentices on clinical placement, including cover for annual leave, sickness, special leave and staff leaving.

As described in the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment, practice supervisors are registered nurses, registered nursing associates or other registered healthcare professionals within the workplace who act as role models supporting and supervising registered nurse degree apprentices, whilst also providing feedback on their progress and achievement of proficiencies and skills.

Practice assessors are registered nurses or registered nursing associates within the workplace, with appropriate relevant experience, who make and document evidence-based assessments on registered nurse degree apprentices’ conduct, proficiency and achievement.

A practice assessor cannot simultaneously be the practice supervisor for the same registered nurse degree apprentice.


In addition to a designated academic and professional lead for healthcare and account management support, the OU will deploy expert staff to support you and your apprentices:

  • Practice Tutors/Academic Assessors – Help to integrate learning into the workplace, supporting the delivery of practice-based learning modules across the duration of the programme. Apprentices, practice assessors and practice supervisors are supported using online approaches and quarterly progress review meetings with three-way discussion.
  • Academic Tutor – Facilitates learning within the theory modules at each stage of the qualification through personalised tuition, delivery of online tutorials, marking of assignments and detailed feedback.
  • Nursing Staff Tutor – Supports employers to deliver the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship to meet both organisational needs and the quality assurance requirements set down by the NMC with respect to practice learning requirements including learning environment audits. The Nursing Staff Tutor will also provide practice-based support for apprentices for the periods they are not enrolled on a practice-based module.
  • Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager (APDM) – Supports employers to deliver their apprenticeship programmes fulfilling organisational needs. Your allocated APDM provides regular management data on apprentices’ progress.

In addition, The Open University provides the following support for apprentices:

  • Access to a dedicated Apprenticeships Enrolment and Support Team.
  • Disability and accessibility support.
  • Access to an online library, containing a world-class collection of high-quality academic and professional resources.


Theory assessment

Your apprentices’ theory work will be assessed by the OU through a combination of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs), interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs) and End-of-module assessments (EMAs).

Practice-based assessment

In practice, the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship Practice Assessment Document (PAD) records your apprentices’ achievement of the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses within their primary practice base and in the alternative practice placement areas. The practice assessor in the practice setting will sign off apprentices’ achievements.

Regular meetings will take place between the apprentice, their practice assessor and their OU practice tutor, who also fulfils the role of academic assessor. At the mid-point review meeting, the apprentice will be assessed via a ‘Professional discussion’ that draws on their ability to discuss care and the evidence-base underpinning care practices. 

End-point assessment (EPA)

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) and NMC have agreed that the End Point Assessments (EPA)  has been integrated in the final stage of their programme. This means that the apprentice is not required to carry out any additional assessments. The following process explains the integrated EPA:  

  • The EPA Gateway period starts when the employer and the OU (AEI) are satisfied the apprentice has consistently demonstrated they meet the KSBs of the occupational standard (which has all been mapped against the NMC proficiencies for both 2010 and 2018 curricula),  
  • The apprentice has attained both of Functional Skills at minimum of Level 2 in Maths and English qualifications (if required) 
  • The apprentice’s final Practice Assessment Documentation (Part/Stage 3) is completed and has been signed off by their AA and PA.  

The integrated EPA starts with the OU Examination board and finishes when the OU/AEI upload the apprentices course outcome, details and the required good health and character declarations to the NMC.  

Consideration by the examination board and notice of the decision of the examination board to the NMC meet the requirements of the integrated EPA.  



Last update: 20 February 2024

Education & Skills Funding Agency Apprenticeships  

Programme Summary

Location: England


  • Standard route: 3 years
  • Extended route: 4 years

Qualifications achieved at the end of the programme

Depending on the specialism:

  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Children and Young People)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Learning Disability)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)
  • Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship awarded by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE)

Level and standard

Specific entry requirements

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

End-point assessment (EPA)

  • Integrated

Additional information

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