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FdSc Health Science (Mental Health)

Why we're great

  • Our organised “taster” placements provide experiences outside of your usual workplace
  • You are taught by registered, experienced staff, including nurses with a variety of different backgrounds
  • You learn alongside other health care support, providing you with opportunities to review and discuss mental health issues with like-minded students

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: L511
Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Health and Human Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

Are you an experienced mental health worker with an abundance of skills? Would you like to take that further? Would you like to take your career further within your own clinical environment?

FdSc Health Studies (Mental Health) is a work-related, nationally recognised qualification for people currently working in the health and social care sector as assistants in a variety of settings.

It allows you to apply for a Band 4 role as an assistant or associate practitioner (AP) in mental health care, and can be key to developing the career you have always dreamt of. This is a 2-year taught course, one level below the honours degree, with the opportunity to top up and complete the degree BSc Health Care Practice or to access the BSc Nursing course at Colchester and Southend.

An AP in Mental Health can safely and competently work with people in a variety of settings – hospital, community and general practice. If clinical practice is where you want to be, with the support of your employer we can help you develop in a setting you are comfortable with, where you will also stretch and challenge your clinical and academic skills.

Here at Essex, learning with other health care support workers in similar situations to your own provides you with peer support throughout the course. You are never on your own. You have an academic mentor and a work-based practice supervisor. Small classes provide the ideal environment to gain confidence quickly over the first term.

Before you know it, you will be confident to ask questions, reflect on practice and start to make decisions which will allow you to improve patient care.

Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies

Our two foundation degrees meet the requirements of the Specification for Apprenticeship Standards England and the Core Competence and Knowledge Framework for the Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship Framework.

We are committed to embedding the NHS Constitution Values (which are strongly reflected in our University values) into everything we do. They define the behaviours and expectations of all our staff and students, underpinning the work we do in the university, clinical arena and other workplaces.

We understand that not all of our students and staff are employed within the NHS, but these values uphold the underlying principles of excellent care as a standard and as such we expect that anyone who has any aspect of their work which ultimately cares for others will aspire to uphold these values.

For us, involving not only our students but service users, experts by experience, carers and NHS/non NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital.

Placement Opportunities

Your main placement will be in your existing workplace (where you are currently employed for a minimum of 14 clinical hours per week). However, throughout your time with us, you will also attend short clinical “taster” placements giving you the opportunity to experience the developing role of the AP in its wider sense – not just the environment you are used to.

You will need to identify a clinical supervisor who will support your learning within the placement.

Our expert staff

A unique feature of our School is that most of our staff work or have worked within clinical practice. This enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and real-life practice.

Health Science (Mental Health) is taught by registered experienced staff including nurses with a variety of different backgrounds. The Course Lead for Mental Health is Judith Skargon.

Camille Cronin, Subject Lead for FdSc Health Science, gained her doctorate at Essex and has a particular interest in Work-Based Learning. She also has extensive clinical experience and has held research posts in both clinical and academic settings.

Full details of our staff can be found on the HHS Staff Profiles.

As a School, we specialise in applied, multidisciplinary research that addresses issues of national and international concern to health and social care policy and practice, and related fields. We also host the NIHR Research Design Service for the East of England.

Specialist facilities

The School is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building at our Colchester campus and in the Gateway Building on the Southend campus.

Health Science (Mental Health) is taught at our Colchester Campus, where you will find purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of a growing and lively School.

We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials, and have simulation labs where you can practise developing your clinical skills safely, knowing that you are learning up-to-date and evidenced based practice from experienced registered practitioners.

Your future

FdSc Health Studies (Mental Health) is a work-related, nationally recognised qualification for people currently working in the health and social care sector as assistants in a variety of settings.

Many of our past graduates have gone on to pursue a career in nursing, coming back to Essex to study for their BSc Nursing before working in a local organisation.

Health Science (Mental Health) also offers the flexibility to seek other careers in health and care roles, for example health promotion, health services management or social work, and can be topped up to a BSc (Hons) Health Care Practice degree.

Other career pathways our graduates have taken include Social Work degrees and Occupational Therapy degrees, as well as developing their Assistant Practitioner roles in A&E, oncology services, dementia, children services for physiotherapy, the wheel chair service, family planning, general practice, care home management, outpatient services, leg ulcer and diabetes clinics and in community mental health.

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Example structure

On this course you will attend University one day a week, which will involve instructional teaching and tutorials. You will be expected to log in at times and take part in online discussion forums. You will have short work placements based with the local NHS hospital and primary care trusts.

These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.

We’re reactive, we’re pioneering, we never stand still, so modules might change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation. Those listed below show how a typical course might look, but more detail on course structure, including details of all optional modules, is available on our Programme Specification.

Year 1

Personal effectiveness is about taking responsibility for developing your learning and communication skills, in order to improve your personal performance and to positively influence the performance of others. You will look at the key skills and techniques that can help you with this and learn how to apply them when building trust with patients and when dealing with other people.

Clinical Governance is all about ensuring patients are safe and managing risk. People who work in health and social care are expected to meet a certain standard of knowledge and skills and this module introduces you to the notion of professional accountability and responsibility and the measures introduced by the NHS to protect public safety and improve patient care.

The bio-psychosocial dynamic considers the impact of physiological, psychological and environmental influences on our health and in turn, the appropriate intervention and care. This double module will help you develop your understanding of the interplay between these influences and how they all play a significant role in patient wellbeing.

Is there more to wellbeing than an absence of ill-health? The health and illness continuum is a concept that describes degrees of wellness and highlights how, despite a lack of physical disease, an individual’s wellbeing can suffer. Learning from patients about their experiences of illness and the factors that influence their sense of wellness, you will explore this approach further.

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave and is important to our overall health and wellbeing. One in four people will have a mental health problem at some point which can affect their daily life and physical health. This module will introduce you to the concept of mental health, the factors which can influence it and the ways in which patients can be supported.

Year 2

When planning patient treatment, it is vital for nurses to be able to critically appraise evidence based research as it can inform clinical decision making. This module focuses on developing your critical appraisal skills by looking at the research process, different research methods and designs and how you can use an evidence-based approach to question research in a systematic way.

Expanding on themes introduced in earlier modules, you will further develop your understanding of the wider issues that must be considered when promoting the health and wellbeing of individuals. These include influences such as lifestyle, education and media influence as well as environment, work-safety issues and social economic factors.

What are the ethical and legal issues that health care and dental care workers frequently encounter? Concerns about issues such as funding, changing role boundaries, treatment options and patient confidentiality, has led to an increase in the number of policies that define their practice. This module enables you to explore the impact of some of these changes on professional practice.

As a team leader or a member of an interdisciplinary team, the ability to work with and develop yourself and other people is vital. As an Associate Practitioner, you will be required to build relationships with patients and clients, in order to influence their health behaviour. In this module, you will explore the concepts of emotional safety and threat and look at the techniques required to create a safe environment for personal and people development.

This module builds upon the learning gained in the Bio-psychosocial being module, the mental health assessment and the health, illness and disease module. It helps to prepare you for your role in care of adults receiving mental health care in community and hospital settings.


  • Teaching incorporates lectures, group work, e-learning, computer skills-based and student-led sessions
  • Modules have their own accompanying pages on Moodle where you can download relevant readings, power-points, podcasts and video clips, and contribute to online discussions


  • A variety of assessments are used, including essays, reflective essays, posters, presentations, short-answer written papers, OCSEs and a skills book that records key competencies
  • You also conduct a research project/dissertation

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UK entry requirements

As this degree is a work-related qualification aimed at developing your current role we look at you as a person on an individual basis. We are just as interested in what your current role is, what your professional experience is like and how determined you are to succeed in your career, as we are in your academic qualifications. You have to be able to show that you are able to study at A-level or equivalent so that we know that you aren’t going to be thrown in at the deep-end. We want you to succeed.

If you aren’t sure if your experience and qualifications are suitable for this foundation degree, please contact Lizzie Norris, the administrator for the programme and she will help you.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

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Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.