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Advancing Practice in Neonatology (MSc)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Part time distance learning

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

The MSc Advancing Practice in Neonatology is designed for those already working in neonatal medicine and explores essential aspects of clinical neonatology. It gives you the specialist knowledge and skills you need to develop professionally and clinically.

The course is run part-time via online distance learning, allowing you total flexibility over your studies. The course is relevant for medical doctors, nurse practitioners, nurse educators and other health professionals involved in neonatal healthcare.

You will study all essential aspects of clinical neonatology and gain advanced knowledge of modern diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, including advanced ventilation and neuroprotective strategies, optimising nutrition and stabilisation and management of the critically ill infant. After an introductory module covering research and statistics, core modules include respiratory care, cardiac care and haemodynamics, critical care and the safe transfer of neonates/children between services and carers, neurological care and nutrition, gut function and the surgical neonate – all of which are crucial to improving survival rates and quality of care. The abilities to research, review, evaluate, design and plan these key components in healthcare systems represent highly marketable skills for graduates of the award.

This interactive course is delivered by an experienced faculty of clinicians working in specialised UK neonatal centres in collaboration with international experts. You will learn the embryological, physiological and anatomical science underpinning health and disease in term and premature infants, as well as exploring methods of managing the ethical and communication challenges faced by clinical teams every day.

By completing this programme, you will develop evidence-based practice skills helping you provide advanced neonatal care based on a sound knowledge of science, clinical practice and research evidence.

Distinctive features

  • Learn from neonatal experts - Designed and delivered by experienced UK neonatal consultants and international experts in neonatal healthcare
  • Up-to-date curriculum – focusing on many different clinically relevant aspects of caring for the critically ill neonate and child
  • Flexible e-learning programme - Distance-learning, online format enables flexible learning with individualised support from practising clinical neonatologists
  • Tailor your learning to your clinical practice - Dissertation allows you to explore an area of personal interest, enhancing your day to day neonatal clinical practice 

Where you'll study

School of Medicine

We are of the largest medical schools in UK, committed to the pursuit of improved human health through education and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2068 7214
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved an 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as medicine, or an equivalent international degree. Or, evidence you are a Qualified Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (ANNP) holding the clinical professional qualification recognised as the required entry qualification for their clinical profession (i.e. BN or equivalent) and in addition the training qualifying them to work as an ANNP (BSc / BSc and post graduate certificate at MSc level / MSc, or equivalent).
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Evidence you are currently registered with the professional body relevant to your profession.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Selection or interview process


Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The MSc consists of two stages:

  • Stage T1 (First taught stage)

This stage lasts for 1.5 academic years and consists of six 20-credit modules totalling 120 credits, at Level 7.

You may exit the course with a Postgraduate Certificate after completing a minimum of 60 credits, where this includes the award of credit for particular modules. You may also exit the course with a Postgraduate Diploma after completing a minimum of 120 credits, where this includes the award of credit for particular modules.

  • Stage R (Dissertation)

This stage lasts for a further 6 months (0.5 academic years) academic year and includes a 20,000 word dissertation of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of at least 180 credits at Level 7 to complete the MSc programme.

Stage Weighting

  • Taught modules (from the Cardiff University Postgraduate Diploma in Neonatal Medicine) 66.5%
  • Dissertation (stage R) 33.5%

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

Year one consists of three 20-credit modules totalling 60 credits. The first module, ‘Research and statistics’, also serves as an introduction to the course and will provide the students with increased understanding and knowledge of the research process and statistics, to enable them to critically evaluate, synthesise and reflect on research evidence and incorporate this in to clinical practice. The focus will be on applying an evidence based approach to the neonatal setting but generalisable skills in research in a healthcare setting will be taught.

This is then followed by module 2, ‘Respiratory care in neonatology’. The aim of this module is to explore concepts fundamental to the respiratory care of neonates.  You will study different lung volumes and capacities and the principles of ventilation.  The benefits of different forms of ventilation will be discussed in order to teach risk-benefit analysis and the justification of specific ventilation strategies, communicating these effectively to colleagues and parents.  Steroid use and its consequences will be considered.  Medical conditions covered will include chronic lung disease and secondary pulmonary hypertension. 

The final module in year one is ‘Critical care of the newborn’. The module will teach the principles of resuscitation at birth and explore the different requirements of a preterm and a term infant.  By looking in detail at these requirements and the underlying physiology, it is intended that you will be able to develop and justify appropriate care strategies, communicating these effectively to colleagues and parents.  Physiological adaptation at birth in regard to fluids and electrolytes and how to manage fluids and electrolytes in critical care situations will also be considered.  In addition, the importance and nature of risk assessment in transport scenarios will be discussed, including the issue of speed versus safety.  Effective team working and communication, choice of appropriate personnel, the resources required for safe and effective transport and the effect on local services will be considered.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Research and StatisticsMET97120 credits
Respiratory Care in NeonatologyMET97220 credits
Critical Care of the NewbornMET97320 credits

Year two

Year two consists of three 20-credit modules totalling 60 credits. The first module is ‘Neurological care of the newborn’. The aim of this module is to explore concepts fundamental to the neurological care of neonates.  You will study CSF circulation, the vulnerabilities of the preterm brain and specific differences between preterm and term brain injury.  Important conditions to be covered include IVH, PVL and HIE.  The causes of term brain injury will be explored including stroke, infection and hyperbilirubenemia.  The module will also focus on the causes and management of neonatal seizures.  Throughout, a key aspect to be considered will be the long term consequences of brain injury and related clinical decisions, communicating these effectively to colleagues and parents. 

The second module in year two is ‘Cardiac care and haemodynamics’. The aim of this module is to explore concepts fundamental to the cardiovascular care of neonates.  You will study fetal circulation, adaptations after birth and the assessment of cardiac status.  The causes and management of hypotension and hypertension will be an important focus of the module as will the detection and management of arrhythmias.  In relation to treatment the module will include study of the cardiac receptors and the actions of inotropes.  Some consideration will also be given to congenital cardiac abnormalities.  The module covers the development and justification of strategies for cardiovascular care in neonates and current controversies in management. 
The third module in year two is ‘nutrition, gut function and the surgical neonate’. The aim of this module is to explore concepts fundamental to the respiratory care of neonates.  You will study the nutritional requirements of neonates and discuss the benefits of breast milk.  A comparison of different feeding methods and appropriate methods to increase feeds when the circumstances require it will be considered.  The pathophysiology, risk factors and diagnosis of Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) will be covered, alongside a study of prevention strategies, medical/surgical management and long term complications of NEC. 

At the end of these 6 modules, students have the option to continue on to the ‘Dissertation stage’ which runs for 6 months. The purpose of the dissertation is to enable the student to demonstrate their ability to undertake a piece of research, a service evaluation, an audit, a quality improvement project or a critical review (an extended literature review).  The aims of the dissertation stage are to provide opportunities to gain experience and insights in key academic pursuits including: design and methodology in research / service evaluation / audit / critical review; collecting, analysing, interpreting, critiquing and reporting findings; exploring further issues of personal/professional interest; gaining greater insight into an aspect of neonatal practice.  Students will receive support from both an academic and neonatal supervisor. 

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a variety of online activities including, but not limited to: individual study of course material, group discussions, individual coursework, working through specially designed coursework and interactive materials.  You will also receive regular constructive feedback to stimulate your enthusiasm and provide support. 

This course is delivered entirely by distance learning and therefore can be accessed by eligible students from anywhere within the international healthcare community.  This also allows for flexibility of study to suit individual student needs.  Support will be provided wherever possible for students with additional learning needs.

Studies at the dissertation stage will largely consist of guided independent study making use of the extensive learning and research facilities available.  A project supervisor will be allocated to support and advise you on researching and writing up your specific dissertation topic.  Supporting, formative material on research methods is delivered online via Cardiff University’s online learning platform.

How will I be assessed?

For the module stage, formative assessments consist of exercises such as objective test (e.g. multiple choice / single best answer items) and short answer items testing knowledge and application, plus online discussion and reflective entries.

Summative assessments will consist of a mixture of methods including the completion of objective test / short answer items based on scientific and clinical scenarios, case reports, personal online reflection and other written assignments such as treatment and patient communication strategies, a proposal / business case and discussions of controversies.

The MSc dissertation stage will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation. Expectations for the format, submission and marking of the dissertation will follow the current Senate Assessment Regulations, supplemented where appropriate with additional requirements of the Programme/School/College and any specific requirements arising from the nature of the project undertaken.

How will I be supported?

The MSc is delivered as a distance-learning programme via Cardiff University’s online learning environment, where you will find course materials, links to related materials and assessments. 

All students are allocated a personal tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs, who you can contact to discuss progress and for advice and guidance as needed.


Students will receive constructive feedback throughout the duration of the programme from their supervisor/tutors.  Formative feedback will be communicated to the students through electronic and written means in a timely manner.  Summative feedback on assessment will be delivered within the timeframes set by the University.

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging in this course, you will have the opportunity to develop a wealth of skills and abilities you can apply to your professional setting.  In addition to greater conceptual understanding of current knowledge, issues and methods in neonatal medicine, you will practice and develop abilities in critical analysis, in the application of evidence-based medicine and in dealing with complex issues systematically and creatively.  Your studies should also help you develop your problem-solving and decision-making abilities by enabling you to utilise evidence effectively and communicate important concepts to colleagues and others.  Through any research focused elements you will have the opportunity to develop and enhance skills in aspects such as literature review, critical evaluation and knowledge of research principles.

Master’s level study should enable students to identify opportunities to practise and develop a variety of important professional skills:

  • Initiative, autonomy and personal responsibility in the planning and implementation of solutions in clinical care. 
  • Reflection upon learning, relating this to clinical practice and experience.

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will achieve by the end of your programme at Cardiff University and identify the knowledge and skills that you will develop. They will also help you to understand what is expected of you.

On successful completion of your Programme you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1  Evaluate key physiological, anatomical and other changes occurring from foetal life to the neonatal period and explore how this relates to the pathophysiological processes seen in the neonatal intensive care setting.

KU 2  Critically reflect on the specialised and/or complex subject areas within neonatology and apply this to demonstrate problem solving and/or decision making abilities within their own professional context.

KU 3  Evaluate the critique the roles of the multi-professional healthcare team and family integrated care in providing high quality, holistic care to the newborn.

KU 4  Synthesise knowledge and understanding of neonatal pathophysiology and the surrounding evidence base to formulate and propose a systematic approach to dealing with complex issues within their professional context

KU 5  Critically reflect on the interplay between genetic, obstetric, neonatal and social factors on perinatal outcomes and management strategies.

KU 6  Explore a topic relevant to Neonatal Medicine and write a comprehensive project report that demonstrates good practice in research/audit and contributes to the development of the body of knowledge and/or clinical practice in the field

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1  Illustrate how specific vulnerabilities seen in neonates impact on treatment and management options

IS 2  Develop a critically informed approach to searching for evidence, evaluating evidence hierarchy, appraising strengths and limitations of evidence and synthesising key outcomes to inform an evidence-based approach to healthcare in terms of clinical practice, research, service evaluation and peer group discussion.

IS 3  Recognise and appraise the ethical considerations, clinical choices and long-term consequences faced by healthcare professionals and carers of a critically ill and/or extremely preterm neonate.

IS 4  Critically assess the evidence for common interventions in neonatal health and demonstrate and ability to evaluate and apply new ideas and concepts to their own professional setting as a reflective practitioner.

IS 5  Reflect on your own area of clinical work and be able to evaluate and critique current practice, using evidence to formulate and justify innovations to improve care delivery.

Professional Practical Skills:

PPS 1  Debate the approaches to assessing the respiratory, circulatory and neurological status of a neonate including the appropriate use of investigations and interpretation of results.

PPS 2  Assess to what extent differences in the physiology of a neonate impact on actions, interactions and contraindications of drugs in the neonatal period and use this to identify suitable therapies.

PPS 3  Diagnose common conditions and disorders presenting in the neonatal period and illustrate the relevant pathophysiology, classification, clinical implications and management options.

PPS 4  Reflect on the importance of family centred care and be able to incorporate this into clinical practice.

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1  Reflect upon learning and show initiative, autonomy and personal responsibility in the identification, planning and implementation of solutions in clinical care. 

KS 2  Develop skills necessary to be a life-long learner who can influence practice through education and service evaluation

KS 3  Communicate effectively through collaborative learning using a variety of media

KS 4  Demonstrate time management, organisation and independent learning through coursework, audit and/or research.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £5,725 None
Year two £5,725 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,450 £2,500
Year two £9,450 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

The Postgraduate Diploma can form part of the portfolio of those who are applying for promotion or to a specialist role.

This Masters programme enables you to demonstrate you are taking the opportunity to develop your abilities in critical analysis, problem-solving, decision-making, finding and using evidence and in dealing with complex issues. Whilst we do not formally assess clinical skills or competencies in a face-to-face context (so the programme is not a substitute for a formal specialty training programme), studying at this level should help successful students demonstrate numerous academic skills that should be highly regarded in relation to their career development and progression. In particular, the programme offers opportunities to demonstrate the development of knowledge and skills in relation to the application of evidence-based medicine and the potential enhancement of services and governance frameworks. As such, it should provide evidence of commitment and potential that may assist you in relation to taking on greater responsibilities or perhaps seeking management, research, scholarship, or leadership roles.

Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.