BSc (Hons) Acute and Critical Care

BSc (Hons) Acute and Critical Care


This part-time BSc (Hons) Acute and Critical Care degree is for Paramedics, ODPs and nurses who wish to advance their knowledge of acutely unwell or critically ill patients.

An ageing population and increased expectations from the public will inevitably mean greater demands on NHS services based around acute deterioration and critical care needs in the future. Healthcare professionals need to be fit for purpose and deliver a high-quality service.

The Acute and Critical Care course will provide you with the knowledge, skills and understanding to assess, care for and manage patients using current evidence-based practice and applied physiology, while drawing on the legal and professional aspects that impact upon your role and responsibilities.

You will develop a more rounded and focused appreciation of your clinical practice when dealing with acutely unwell or critically ill patients in pre-hospital or community environments and hospital wards, including general wards, theatres, anaesthetics and recovery, critical care and ED.

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Entry Requirements

Applicants need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), or the HCPC (Health Care Professions Council) and have a HE Diploma or evidence of RPL (Recognised Prior Learning). You must already be employed and practicing within an acute and critical care environment.


Year One: Acute and Critical Care course

Applied physiology of acute and critical illness – 20 credits
This module looks at critically analysing the impact of pathophysiology on acute and critically ill adult patients and to understand altered physiology. You will explore the consequences of acute and critical illness on homeostasis using a wide knowledge base of normal and altered physiology to understand key treatments. The module will also focus on cardio-respiratory physiology, neurological control and acute medical conditions.

Care and management of the acute and critically ill – 20 credits
You will critically evaluate the complexity of care issues in relation to acutely and critically ill adult patients and analyse the context of that care. The effectiveness of care implementation across a range of patient presentations will be analysed with consideration given to the processes of assessment, monitoring and intervention.

Legal and professional issues in caring for the acute and critically ill – 20 credits
In this module you will undertake a critical evaluation of service delivery systems from legal and professional perspectives. This includes the right to health care; upholding human rights; duty and standards of care; professional negligence and the application of these to professional practice in acute and critical care contexts. Topics such as life and death, euthanasia, legal definitions of death, organ and tissue donation are also considered in terms of the implications on practitioners caring for acute and critically ill patients.

Year Two: Acute and Critical Care course

Psychological consequences of acute and critical illness – 20 credits
The psychological implications of acute and critical illness can be seen as secondary to assessing and managing the physical needs of your patients. In this module we discuss and debate some of the psychological consequences faced by patients, relatives, and you as healthcare practitioners.

Practice-based dissertation – 40 credits
You will choose a topic related to acute or critical care and undertake a literature review up to 12,000 words.


You will study through a mixture of lectures, group work, patient scenarios, interactive tutorials and seminar presentations. You will attend the University one day a week. First year students are taught on Fridays 9am-5pm and second year students are taught on Thursdays 9am-5pm.


Modules are assessed through a practice-based dissertation, multiple-choice questions, viva voce, OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations) and written evidence of personal and professional development.

The OSCEs will take place in May each year and be completed as part of the Care and Management of the Acute and Critically Ill module and involve undertaking a comprehensive patient history, examining a particular bodily system, and identifying a management and treatment plan for the individual.


Year One

Applied physiology of the critically ill 
One hour MCQ (March)
Two-hour short answer paper (April)

Legal and professional issues in caring for the critically ill
Viva based on assignment (May)

Care and management of the critically ill 
OSCE s (Objective, Structured Clinical Examination) – 10 minute primary assessment and 25 minute clinical assessment specific to your role (May)

Year Two

Psychological Consequences of acute and critical illness 
Poster presentation with mock practice (March)

Clinically relevant evidence based exploration of an agreed topic (May)


We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


You will develop personally and professionally in your specialist clinical area. The BSc (Hons) Acute and Critical Care course will also develop a high level of skill in transferring complex theoretical knowledge into comprehensive, patient-centred clinical practice.

Our Careers and Employability Service
As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the “Ask a Question” service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.


Full time

Complete your degree in the shortest possible time and study flexibly – when and where suits you!


You’ll study 9 modules in total (approx. 37 hrs/week).

Part time option one

Study for a degree whilst fitting it around your work, care and other life commitments.


You’ll study 6 modules per year (approx. 25 hrs/week).

Part time option two

Take time to study and spread the tuition fees over a longer period – at no extra cost.


You’ll study 4–5 modules per year (approx. 19 hrs/week).

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