Learn to deliver safe, effective, individualised care for Level 3 patients.

Join our Critical Care Nursing courses and gain the credits you need to be a qualified practitioner in critical care.

Our courses are linked to critical care competencies, so completing them means you’ll meet the National Education requirements for critical care practitioners.

These blended courses combine online and work-based learning with in-person training at our Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen.

Course one

  • Achieve CC3N Step 3 Competencies as a registered nurse in adult critical care.
  • Develop advanced theoretical knowledge and skills as a critical care practitioner.
  • Take an evidence-based approach to the holistic care of critically ill patients.

Course two

  • Build on your knowledge and skills in critical care delivery.
  • Choose an area of critical care to specialise in.
  • Gain theoretical and practical training in your chosen specialism and progress in your clinical career.

You’ll learn as part of a team, building on each other’s learning and experience, supported by our expert critical care faculty.

Who can join our Critical Care Nursing courses?

These courses are for registered nurses who:

  • are currently working in critical care, with core knowledge in critical care practice
  • are required to complete the CC3N Step 3 Competencies
  • have successfully completed the NHS Grampian Critical Care Education Pathway or equivalent from outside NHS Grampian.
Laura Reid, Practice Educator

Our teaching team leads the way in the delivery of Critical Care education linked to the National CC3N Competencies.

Laura Reid, Practice Educator

What you’ll study

Course one

In this first blended-learning course, you’ll cover:

  • assessment of the complex patient
  • decision making in critical care nursing through critical analysis and evaluation
  • enhanced knowledge of anatomy and physiology related to conditions commonly seen within critical care.

You’ll learn to critically analyse and improve practice by applying knowledge and understanding to relevant policies, procedures and guidelines.

And you’ll reflect on your own experiences of working in critical care to support your continual professional development.

Step 3 Competencies

You’ll also complete the Step 3 Competencies of the CC3N’s Steps Framework for Adult Critical Care Nurses. Read about the CC3N’s Steps Framework.

You’ll achieve your Step 3 Competencies as part of the portfolio you’ll complete as part of the course, demonstrating your clinical and theoretical knowledge and competence.

By the end of course one, you’ll be able to...

  • Critically analyse, discuss and apply the underpinning theory of evidence-based critical care practice.
  • Demonstrate safe and competent evidence-based practice in caring for the critically ill patient.
  • Demonstrate effective communication strategies with the patient, their families and colleagues in the critical care team.
  • Critically reflect on your experience as a practitioner in critical care to inform and develop your practice.

Course two

In this second blended-learning course, you’ll:

  • build on the skills and knowledge gained in course one
  • further develop your knowledge in critical care delivery
  • focus on your own professional development, with learning tailored to your career goals and aspirations within critical care

In this course, you’ll pursue knowledge and skills related to your chosen speciality.

Areas you could specialise in include:

  • cardiac care
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) uncovered
  • hyperbaric care
  • leadership
  • management
  • quality improvement
  • transport of critically ill.

By the end of course two, you’ll be able to...

  • Discuss your individual learning needs and how these can be addressed and evidenced.
  • Demonstrate safe and competent evidence-based practice in your chosen area of professional development.
  • Apply quality improvement methodology to your individual area of practice.
  • Evaluate your learning and identify how you’ll apply it in your clinical practice, including you’ll maintain and further develop your learning.

How you’ll study

Blended learning

Our Critical Care Nursing courses are delivered part-time via blended learning. You’ll learn via a mix of online, on-campus and work-based learning.

These courses are taught at undergraduate level (SCQF 10). See a guide to SCQF levels.

Online learning

Your online teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • videos and audio clips
  • video lectures to stream or download
  • online one-to-one tutorials
  • slide shows
  • quizzes
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

On-campus learning

Your on-campus learning will take place at our Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen.

Foresterhill is one of the largest clinical complexes in Europe. It’s home to one of the leading medical schools in the UK, a large teaching hospital, maternity and children’s hospitals, and the Rowett Institute. Find out about our Health Campus.

Your on-campus learning will include:

  • lectures and tutorials
  • seminars
  • set exercises
  • simulated clinical scenarios
  • experiential learning in Clinical Practice with experienced practitioners.

Work-based learning

You’ll reflect on your existing experience within critical care. And you’ll learn to apply new and existing knowledge within your own work environment. We’ll use the National CC3N Steps Competency Framework and you’ll complete a portfolio as part of your work-based learning.

Your tutors

You’ll be taught by the NHS Grampian Critical Care Education Team as well as other experienced clinicians from both the University and clinical practice, such as Medics and Specialist Nurses.

Course one

In this first course, you’ll be assessed via:

  • a portfolio, covering CC3N competencies and a Clinical Supervisor report, worth 30% of your total grade
  • a case-based discussion, 40%
  • an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), 30%.

Course two

In this second course, you’ll be assessed via:

  • a portfolio, evidencing the achievement of your intended learning outcomes, worth 40% of your total grade
  • creation of a poster demonstrating the learning you have gained and applied, or related to the learning outcomes of your specialty, 60%.

Each course totals approximately 300 hours of study and assessment time over 26 weeks.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.

Throughout each course, you’ll have the support of our Critical Care Practice Education Team, Critical Care Team, and Clinical Supervisor(s).

You’ll have contact with your tutors via email, phone, Microsoft Teams, or in person. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Your course coordinator

Laura Reid – Practice Educator

Laura has worked within Critical Care for over 20 years as a junior and senior nurse. She’s worked in the HDU, CCU and ICU environments in Aberdeen and Perth, Australia. Laura’s spent the last eight years in education as a Practice Educator.

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

On successful completion of both courses, you’ll earn 60 credits at honours degree level (SCQF 10).

This could enable you to progress to our blended-learning Masters degree:

Masters in Advanced Clinical Practice

Develop your advancing career in healthcare with this uniquely flexible MSc, delivered part-time via blended learning. 10% discount for NHS staff.

View MSc Advanced Clinical Practice


The National Critical Care Standards state that 50% of the nursing workforce requires to have a post-registration critical care award.

By completing both of our courses, which map to the National Standards and include the national competencies, you’ll have achieved the academic level (SCQF 10) and number of credits (60) required for a practitioner in critical care.

You’ll be qualified to deliver safe, effective Level 3 patient-centred care.

Step 3 Competencies

By completing course one successfully, you’ll have achieved advanced CC3N competencies in your role as a critical care practitioner.

As well as enhancing your knowledge, skills and professional network, these courses will:

  • open opportunities for your career development in critical care
  • evidence your expertise and competency within your current role.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

To view your online course materials, you’ll need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one from some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

On-campus fees

Your course fee covers all your teaching resources. But you will need to arrange and pay for your own transport, accommodation and visa if required.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

Entry requirements for course one

To apply for course one, you should:

  • be a current registered nurse working within Critical Care Level 2 and/or 3
  • have evidence of foundational knowledge in critical care nursing, eg, NHS Grampian Critical Care Education Pathway completion or equivalent.

You also need to:

  • have a nursing degree, or
  • be able to demonstrate evidence of equivalent experience in healthcare practice.

Entry requirements for course two

To apply for course two, you should:

  • be a current registered nurse or allied health professional working within Critical Care Level 2 and/or 3, and
  • have evidence of foundational knowledge in critical care nursing, eg, NHS Grampian Critical Care Education Pathway completion or equivalent, and
  • have completed Professional and Clinical Development in Critical Care Nursing Course One, or equivalent learning.

Apply for this course

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