Acute Care (Top-Up) BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (1 year)

Cambridge, Chelmsford, Peterborough (Guild House)

January, September


Learn more about caring for acutely ill adults, and top-up your existing nursing qualification to a BSc (Hons) in just one year. You’ll learn about current laws, procedures and best practice in this field while enhancing your leadership, decision-making and teamwork skills.

Full description


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and this course offers two great ways to boost your career.

Firstly, you’ll turn your existing qualification/s into a BSc (Hons) degree in just one year. Secondly, when you graduate you’ll have an important nursing specialism under your belt.

Having developed your intellectual and practical skills on this course, you’ll be a real asset to any team. You might choose to remain in your current job, or you might pursue a more specialist role. Whatever your plans, we’ll help you choose the course modules to suit.

Once you’ve got your bachelor’s degree, opportunities to study or research at Masters level will be open to you.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Research Methodology
    You will learn to be analytical and insightful regarding research reports. You will gain an invaluable skill for anyone who wishes to provide effective and appropriate care in their individual sphere of practice. In addition, today's practitioner is required to work in a multi professional, multi-agency world which requires skills and insight into the efficacy of research. This module will revisit existing knowledge of the research process and assist you in further developing skills of critical analysis and ethical appraisal of published work.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The undergraduate major project enables you to raise and address significant questions relating to your chosen topic/issue. You will be supported by a tutor with similar interests and research profile. This module requires autonomous study and it is your chance to demonstrate that you have met our University’s expectations and are ready to graduate.

Optional modules

  • Adult Acute Care
    This module explores all aspects of adult acute care and the support required for family members. Building on the concept of Critical Care Without Walls (2000) and Quality Critical Care (2005), and recognising that individuals have the right to specialist care, regardless of location or speciality. Patient safety is an absolute priority and lessons learnt from the NPSA reports (2007, 2008) and the initiative of "Reducing Harm from Deterioration" (Patient Safety First 2008) as an outcome measure is incorporated. Through skilled assessment and interventions, practitioners can be proactive in detecting and supporting the highly dependent and acutely ill patient. Practitioners undertaking this module will come from a wide variety of clinical backgrounds. The module provides the practitioner with the knowledge necessary to care for the highly dependent and acutely ill patient and maps directly against NICE Clinical Guideline 50 Acutely ill Patients in Hospital (2007) and is guided by the DoH (2009) competencies for the acutely ill adult. Learning and teaching strategies include lectures, skills workshops, and a significant amount of scenario based workshops. Opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills within the practitioner's speciality will be facilitated. A two part assessment is undertaken, a critical analysis of an aspect of care relating to an acutely ill patient plus clinical competencies.
  • Care of the Patient Undergoing Anaesthesia
    Covering the more advanced principles of anaesthesia and relevant pharmacology, it’ll provide you with the knowledge, skills and experience to recognise, communicate and respond competently, with care and compassion, when a patient’s clinical condition indicates that they are becoming acutely unwell. You’ll explore how psychological wellbeing can impact on recovery and the importance of patient-focused care and empowerment (Francis, 2013; NHS Constitution, 2012). You’ll also gain the knowledge and theory you need to perform the role of anaesthetic assistant during advanced anaesthetic techniques. We provide plenty of opportunities to analyse and evaluate anaesthesia – both its practical use and the theory behind it. Teaching is delivered using a combination of skills labs, lectures and seminars. Some practical sessions are taught in our state-of-the-art theatre and laboratory facilities. The course is delivered on a day release basis, with one study day at university per fortnight of the trimester.
  • Cardiac Care
    This module provides the opportunity to explore and develop the knowledge and skills required to meet the diverse acute and chronic needs of cardiac patients, their families or carers. In order to receive care that is effective and of high quality, the patient with a cardiac disorder is dependent upon practitioners being skilled in understanding the mechanisms of arrhythmias and 12 lead ECG interpretation and analysis. We'll focus on the assessment, monitoring, medical and surgical management of cardiac disorders. It’ll include the patho-physiology for a range of cardiac diseases, disorders and abnormalities; rationale for signs and symptoms and the various treatment strategies. Through our module, you'll acquire the knowledge to analyse the most appropriate interventions and treatments for managing your clients’ needs. This will help you to understand the disease processes, symptoms and interventions that a person may require but allow you to understand why “you are doing what you are doing”. In relating the theory to your practice, you can compare and contrast different perspectives on treatment and management which is imperative for safe and effective clinical practice.
  • Critical Care
    Enhance your ability to provide safe, high-quality care for people who are critically ill. You’ll learn strategies for helping to improve practice, continually re-evaluating and enhancing care so that you embed safety and quality at the heart of your clinical practice. An essential element of our module is the time spent working within critical care with Level 2 and 3 patients. A clinical mentor will help you to achieve Step 2 and Step 3 competencies as determined by the Critical Care National Network Nurse Leads Forum (CC3N). It follows the structure of the ABCDE assessment. Airway management is explored as are the principles of invasive mechanical ventilation and non-invasive ventilation. Circulatory assessment and interventions to support the cardiovascular system are also addressed within the module. Neurological assessment and care are examined along with the issues associated with sedation and delirium within the critically ill population. Ex patients from intensive care are invited to come and talk to you about their experiences of critical care and beyond. Normal anatomy and physiology are explained first to ensure you have a baseline level of knowledge to underpin your practice. The pathophysiology associated with critical illness is also analysed to enable you to understand the underlying pathophysiology and the interventions taken to manage these within the critical care setting. This module is offered in Cambridge only.
  • Clinical Assessment Skills for Health Professionals
    Professional, ethical and regulatory issues are inherent in the development of the health professional's role. This module offers you the opportunity to enhance your existing knowledge and skills through a programme that integrates theory and practice in order to acquire the competencies required to provide a same day consultation service for patients. Ongoing support and supervision is integral to the role development as is audit to ensure safe effective practice to plan future development.
  • Emergency Care
    Injury or illness may occur suddenly or may arise as a consequence of an underlying condition. It may have life threatening implications. The purpose of this module is to consider and explore the common illnesses and injuries of clients attending the Emergency department. The accepted initial and definitive management of these illnesses and injuries are critically evaluated, through the use of effective teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration, and related to current key policy drivers in the practice situation. It is a theory/practice module in which you’ll learn both in the classroom and in the practice area. Learning and teaching methods in the classroom will include a variety of methods such as lectures, seminars, group work, scenarios, etc. Learning and teaching in clinical practice will be under the supervision of an experienced practitioner within your own clinical area. It is assessed from both a theory and practice perspective. The theory is assessed through short OSCE scenarios which explores and analyses the assessment and management of service users across a spectrum of clinical presentations. The practice element is assessed both in practice, by a practice supervisor and through achievement of clinical competencies.
  • Law and Ethics in Health and Social Care
    This module highlights the ethical and legal aspects related to your professional practice. There will be an analysis of legal cases and the statutory provision driving practice coupled with an exploration of current ethical issues, such as resource allocation and judicial review, issues of consent, death and dying and respecting life. The application of principles, theories and the legislative framework will be presented to you via reflective activities, case situations and scenarios, which will enable you to access their knowledge, trace their implications, refine their outcomes and evaluate the degree of moral justification they possess.
  • Management of the Person with Diabetes
    This module is intended to reinforce the concept of inter-professional and partnership working in diabetes care. Therefore, you’ll aim to develop a sound knowledge and relevant skills that incorporate all aspects of diabetes management, and be able to identify diabetes competencies applicable to your role either in a primary or secondary care setting. In addition, you’ll be in the unique position to both support the person to come to terms with having a long-term condition and empower them to make choices about the management of their diabetes.
  • Non-medical Prescribing
    Non-Medical Prescribing prepares you to prescribe medicines from the British National Formulary (BNF), within your area of competence, and to assist you in extending your practice. You’ll learn to prescribe safely, appropriately and cost-effectively, as both an independent and supplementary prescriber. Supervision and assessment from a designated GP or Nurse Practitioner is essential within this module in order to meet the 78 hours clinical practice requirement. The module will be undertaken with allied health professionals.
  • Pain Management
    This module will link theory to practice in various clinical settings, covering a combination of assessment and treatment strategies. The focus will be on delivering holistic care, highlighting the biopsychosocial model of pain management. There will be an interdisciplinary approach and interactive group work sessions focusing on communication and implementation of care. External guest speakers will deliver sessions based on current practice. Topics will include: pain physiology, pain assessment, pharmacology, acute intervention, psychological interventions, patient education, pain in the older person, cancer pain. Delivered via distance learning only.
  • Pain Management - Theory Only
    The focus will be on delivering holistic care, highlighting the biopsychosocial model of pain management. There will be an interdisciplinary approach and interactive group work sessions focusing on communication and implementation of care. External guest speakers will deliver sessions based on current practice. Topics will include: pain physiology, pain assessment, pharmacology, acute intervention, psychological interventions, patient education, pain in the older person, cancer pain. Delivered via distance learning only.
  • Palliative and End of Life Care Management of Symptoms in Advanced Disease
    Understand the various causes and management of symptoms and learn how to communicate sensitively about end of life concerns. This module will enable you to provide high-quality, holistic end of life care and to know when specialist input is required. Designed for HCPs involved in caring for adults who are approaching the end of their life and who also support their families. It’ll focus on managing symptoms in both malignant and non-malignant diseases in a variety of settings, such as care homes, hospitals, hospices or the community. We'll also discuss the ethical and legal aspects of palliative care.
  • Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia
    Develop your skills in the field of anaesthesia with our Principles and Practices of Anaesthesia module. It’s designed for post-registration nurses to cover the basic principles of anaesthesia and relevant pharmacology. It provides an opportunity for those of you who are employed in operating departments to achieve the basic knowledge required to function as a member of the anaesthetic team, while taking into account the broader issues of physics, environmental factors and legal and ethical issues. It also provides an introduction to anaesthetics and will act as the foundation, to be built upon in more depth, when you progress to our next anaesthetic module, Care of the Patient Undergoing Anaesthesia.
  • Principles of Respiratory and Thoracic Care
    This module will further your understanding of the complexity of respiratory diseases and illnesses, and your knowledge of current assessment and management options. You'll also explore the importance of working with the multidisciplinary team and consider the impact of living with a respiratory disease upon patients, carers, families and the NHS. It’ll improve your current understanding, knowledge, management and assessment of respiratory diseases. It’ll enhance your understanding of the impact of respiratory disease and illness, upon patients, carers, family and the NHS. Your knowledge of treatment options available will be enhanced as Respiratory pharmacology, Oxygen therapy, Non-Invasive Ventilation Therapy and Thoracic surgery are samples of that which is included with this module’s content.
  • Surgical First Assistant
    This module will give you the knowledge and skills to work as a surgical first assistant, providing non-interventional assistance to surgeons during operations and delivering safe and effective care to patients. It's a structured programme, based on the current national guidance, which was developed by the Perioperative Care Collaborative (PCC, 2018). As a surgical first assistant, you’ll be expected to demonstrate appropriate knowledge, skills and expertise to ensure a positive outcome for patients. This module will equip you to practice at a suitable level. Once you've completed the course, you'll be in a position to make sure this role is used appropriately in your organisation, reducing the risk to patients and staff and improving safety. You’ll need the support of your manager, a mentor and clinical supervisor (consultant surgeon).
  • Theoretical Perspectives in Adult Acute Care
    You will explore the essential aspects of the acute care of patients and carers in times of crisis. Patient safety is an absolute priority and and you will discuss lessons learnt from the NPSA reports (2007,2008) and the initiative of “Reducing Harm from Deterioration” (Patient Safety First 2008) as an outcome measure. Maintaining adequate tissue perfusion and oxygenation is essential for life. You will develop the knowledge necessary to care for the highly dependent and acutely ill patient and map directly against NICE Clinical Guideline 50 Acutely ill Patients in Hospital (2007).


Your practice assessment booklet sets out the core skills you should gain on this course. Depending on the module, you’ll demonstrate these skills in a number of ways, including essays, presentations, observed structured clinical exams (OSCEs) and/or exams.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Peterborough (Guild House)
Guild House

Guild House is our small, friendly campus in the historic city of Peterborough.

Explore our Guild House campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2019/20 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

Tier 4 visa restrictions

If you need a Tier 4 student visa you can only study at our Chelmsford campus.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

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UK and EU students

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01245 686868

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+44 1245 68 68 68

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