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This is a unique access route into BSc Hons in General Nursing with Atlantic Technological University across three ETB campuses in the West, North West region aimed at widening participation to communities and individuals who would not traditionally consider third-level education as option.

This course is designed to give applicants the academic skills and competence to succeed at undergraduate level, the confidence to progress into a professional programme and the opportunity to undertake a rewarding career in nursing.

This tertiary education programme aims to increase access to degree level education in several ways including increasing the number of locations regionally that students can begin their studies, enhancing flexibility through providing a number of programme paths, widening access through more flexible entry requirements which take account of the socio-economic and other barriers faced by eligible participants.

Incorporating the Level 5 Nursing Studies and the BSc (Hons) General Nursing, this innovative programme is one of the first of its kind to give the opportunity to students to start their preparation for the General Nursing degree programme in the FE sector leading to direct access to the third level college.  Students will spend the first year of this programme in their local ETB (Education and Training Board) and then progress to the corresponding ATU Campus to undertake their four-year Nursing programme. As follows, students studying in:

  • FET Centre, Letterkenny, (The Business Hub) progress to ATU Donegal
  • Sligo College of FE, Ballinode progress to ATU St Angela’s, Sligo
  • FET Centre, Tuam Road, Dunmore progress to ATU Mayo, Castlebar

Each ETB will offer students additional support in the areas of mathematics, ICT and study skills to build knowledge and confidence in their next step to ATU.

Provider Locations and Structure

Location for NFQ L5 study

  • Sligo College of FE, Ballinode

Locations for Nursing Undergraduate study

  • St Angela’s College Sligo

Course Content – For All Years

The programmes offered are detailed in the links below:

A four-year degree program in general nursing, typically known as a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Nursing, is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become Registered General Nurses (RGNs) and enter the professional practice of nursing through the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. The curriculum is comprehensive, combining theoretical education with practice based teaching and clinical experiences. While specific courses and program structures may vary between each of the ATU sites, here are some common components you can expect to find on the program:

  1. Basic Sciences: The program often begins with foundational courses in the basic sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology. These courses provide a solid understanding of the human body and its functions.
  2. Nursing Theory and Practice: Students learn the theoretical foundations of nursing, including concepts like nursing ethics, health assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. They also study nursing processes, critical thinking, and decision-making skills essential for providing patient care.
  3. Clinical Skills: All of the programs include hands-on training in various clinical skills. Students learn fundamental nursing procedures, such as taking vital signs, administering medications, wound care, and conducting patient assessments. They also gain proficiency in using specialised equipment and technologies.
  4. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Health promotion focus on educating individuals, families, and communities about maintaining and improving their health. Students learn strategies for health education, health promotion, and disease prevention in diverse populations.
  5. Medical-Surgical Nursing: This area covers the care of patients with acute and chronic illnesses. Students learn about common medical conditions, surgical interventions, and post-operative care. They develop skills in managing patient care, administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and recognizing complications.
  6. Specialist areas include but not limited to paediatrics, obstetrics and mental health: Students study the unique healthcare needs of infants, children, and adolescents. They learn about paediatric growth and development, common paediatric illnesses, and nursing care for paediatric patients. Obstetrics  focuses on providing care to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods.  In mental health the area of study focuses on understanding mental health conditions and providing care for individuals. Students learn therapeutic communication techniques, psychopharmacology, and interventions for promoting mental well-being. With a focus on recovery.
  7. Community and Public Health Nursing: this area of nursing explores healthcare in broader populations and community settings. Students learn about health promotion, disease prevention, and providing care in community clinics, care in the home, and public health agencies.
  8. Leadership and Management: the programme will include an introduction on nursing leadership and management. Students learn about healthcare systems, healthcare policy, healthcare quality improvement, and leadership skills required to manage and coordinate patient care.
  9. Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Students are introduced to the research process and learn to critically appraise nursing research. They understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, using research findings to inform their clinical decision-making.

In addition to classroom lectures and laboratory sessions, the programs include supervised clinical rotations in various healthcare settings. These clinical experiences provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world healthcare environments under the guidance of experienced nurses (preceptors).

Embedded Awards

This tertiary degree is a comprehensive 5 year programme. The programme is designed to support academic success despite challenges that may arise. If a student has to leave the programme before completing the final year, tertiary degrees include embedded awards. Embedded awards formally recognise learning achieved during time in the programme. For this degree, the embedded awards is:

After successfully completing Year 1 NFQ level 5 Major Award from QQI

The final NFQ level 8 Bachelor of Science (Hons) in General Nursing is awarded by ATU.

Planned Intake (Number of Places)

20 places per location

Entry Requirements and Eligibility

Leaving Certificate/LCVP or a Merit in Leaving Certificate Applied or a relevant QQI Level 4 certificate (UK and International equivalents will be considered)


QQI Level 4 award or equivalent


Mature applicants – (aged 23 on or before 1st January of the course commencement year).  These applicants do not have to meet the minimum entry requirements listed here and are considered on an individual basis (previous education, work experience, and demonstration of competence to undertake the programme)


An applicant who is a minimum of 17 years of age with at least 2 years post Junior Certificate relevant experience.  All applicants must demonstrate that they would qualify for the special rate of maintenance grant under the Student Grant Scheme (SUSI) and/or are in receipt of a Department of Social Protection (DSP) long-term means-tested social welfare payment and/or be from one or more of the priority groups or from any priority group identified as part of the next National Access Plan (2022-2028). See Appendix B. All applicants must demonstrate competence to undertake the programme.

Progression to 3rd Level study at ATU: To progress to the four-year undergraduate degree in General Nursing, successful students must achieve the full QQI Level 5 Award, with a minimum of five distinctions, which must include Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Introduction to Nursing Theory and Practice or Human Growth and Development.

Onward Pathways

Did you know all nursing graduates are highly sought after, with 100% employability potential upon graduation? Upon completion of the program and meeting the necessary requirements, graduates are eligible to enter the nursing register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) to become Registered General Nurses.

Graduates will be qualified to work in many health and community settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centres, and other healthcare facilities, as well as opportunities to travel and work internationally.  Graduate careers typically include working as a medical/surgical care nurse, clinical nurse specialist such as in renal, oncology or orthopaedics or a community public health or general practice nurse.

Further study opportunities within ATU are currently available in the following areas:

MSc in Palliative and End of Life Care
MSc in Quality and Safety in Health Care
MSc in Quality and Safety in Social Care
MSc in Advancing Health and Social Care
MSc in Therapeutic Interventions in Alcohol and Other Drugs
MSc in Advanced Practice (Nursing)
MSc in Professional Nursing Practice

ATU Level 8 qualifications are recognised worldwide for postgraduate entry. The programmes at Atlantic Technological University prepare students for global nursing.

It’s truly a fantastic career choice, and this course will prepare you for a fulfilling future. 

Contact details

Further Education Guidance service (Carrick-on-Shannon) for Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB:

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