Education: A-Z of Degrees - Nursing : Your Hospital Needs You! ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You to Pick the Right Course. This Week: Nursing

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What do you come out with? At Leeds, a BHSc in health sciences; at the University of Central Lancashire and King's College London, a BSc in nursing. At the end of a degree you also qualify for professional registration.

What's it all about? The Leeds course leads to registration as a first- level adult nurse, prepared for work in hospital or in the community. It's similar in Lancashire, but there is a wider variety of specialities, from mental health to special-needs nursing. Liverpool University offers only the adult specialisation. At Surrey, you can opt for a midwifery qualification.

Why do it? Because nursing is hi-tech and high-responsibility these days. Doing a degree means you have a head start on the promotion ladder and have a high level of problem-solving ability. Professor Caroline Carlisle, at Liverpool University, says there's little evidence that nurses with degrees head straight for management. "New roles have been created. Consultant and practitioner nursing posts offer degree-level nurses a strong career path, dealing with patients."

How long does it take? The course at King's is four years. At Surrey, Central Lancashire and Leeds, it takes three years. Liverpool is changing to the three-year pattern in September.

What are the students like? Practical and caring, but keen on following a career. And highly motivated.

How is it packaged? King's offers students options each year but has not gone down the modular route. Central Lancashire, Surrey, Leeds and Liverpool offer modular programmes. There's a 50/50 split between the practical and the academic sides of the courses.

How cool is it? Unless you fancy a walk-on part in Casualty, it's best to get real. Look forward to long shifts and lower status than the doctors, but plenty of job satisfaction. In Leeds, you can do work placements at Jimmies (St James's), of TV documentary fame. Students at King's are studying at the university with the country's widest range of specialisms in the field of health care. The department has its roots in the original nursing school set up by Florence Nightingale at St Thomas's Hospital and is known as the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.

What A-levels do you need? At Leeds you need two, preferably in sciences. Lancashire doesn't mind about the subjects. Other routes, through GNVQs, are available. King's asks for three A-levels, including one science, and Surrey prefers two of the subjects to be science-based. Liverpool also asks for three subjects but does not require a science A-level.

What grades? At Liverpool and King's you'll need Bs and Cs. Surrey, Leeds and Central Lancashire will accept Cs. …