Nursing (Intellectual Disability)

Nursing (Intellectual Disability)

Course Details

CAO Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
- Please see for further information
Delivery Mode:
Minimum Points
+353 (0) 1
700 5947

Would you like a career providing holistic care to people with an intellectual disability?


Overview Icon

In this speciality field, intellectual disability nurses work as part of a cross-disciplinary team that strives to enable and empower people with intellectual disabilities to achieve their full potential.

Intellectual disability can affect two aspects of people’s lives – their intellectual functioning (such as learning, problem solving, judgement) and their adaptive functioning (in activities of daily life such as communication and independent living). During this course, you’ll come to develop the  professional knowledge, skills and attitudes you’ll need to care for people with intellectual disability.

Combining theory and clinical practice
You’ll study a diverse curriculum, incorporating both theory and clinical elements. Throughout the course, you’ll go on clinical placements to gain experience in areas such as childhood education and development, disorders of human behaviour, acute nursing and other specialist areas in disability care. Once you graduate, you can ​​register as a nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). 

As an intellectual disability nurse, you could work in acute care, respite care, community facilities, residential facilities, workshops, schools, retirement care, and home nursing. You could also work in disability and healthcare services, in areas such as management, education, other therapies and research. You’ll also be qualified to work abroad or could go on to further study. 

DCU People

Profile picture of Chloe Reyes
Chloe Reyes

I have always wanted to become a nurse, as my mum is a nurse, and I took from her example, and I absolutely love it. It can be hard at times, but I find that it’s all worth it in the end.

Read more about Chloe Reyes

Careers & Further Options

Careers Icon


Upon graduation, your internationally recognised degree will qualify you to work as an Intellectual Disability Nurse both at home and abroad.

You’ll also be eligible for professional registration with Bord Altranais agus Cnáimhseachais na hÉireann (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

You’ll find work opportunities in the community, schools, general practice, occupational health, and traditional hospitals and care facilities. Career pathways also exist in clinical practice, management, education and research.

  • Education
  • Intellectual Disability Nurse
Intellectual Disability Nurse

DCU graduates are highly sought after by employers. Our Graduates work in environments ranging from large multinationals to SMEs, family businesses and start-ups across every sector.

DCU Careers Service has a number of learning and development initiatives in place for our students, giving them the skills they need for a successful career path.

Go to our Careers site to find out more about career planning, our mentorship programme, skills development and online resources for students when working on CVs and making applications.

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements Icon

In addition to the general entry requirements for admission to the university the following entry requirements apply

Minimum of O6 or H7 in Mathematics and minimum of O6 or H7 in one of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics with Chemistry or Agricultural Science

In addition to the general entry requirements for admission to the university the following entry requirements apply

GCE A Level D or GCE AS Level D or GCSE C Mathematics and GCE A Level D or GCE AS Level D or GCSE C in one of Physics, Chemistry , Biology, Physics with Chemistry or Agricultural Science

Please visit our Admissions webpage for details on course requirements or how to apply to DCU.


Please visit our QQI FET webpage for details on DCU courses, open days, campus tours or school visits.


To apply to DCU, please visit


No entry path

International candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. For further information on international applications click here.

Course Structure

Course Structure Icon

Year 1 (All Nursing Disciplines)

  • Personal and Professional Development 
  • Core Nursing Skills 
  • Psychology 
  • Sociology of Health and Illness 
  • Caring and Communication in Nursing 
  • Anatomy and Physiology 
  • Clinical Practice Placements

Year 1 Stream Specialisms

  • General Nursing 
  • Understanding Intellectual Disability 
  • Mental Health Nursing 
  • Children’s Nursing

Year 2 (All Nursing Disciplines)

  • Personal and Professional Development  
  • Clinical Pharmacology for Nursing Practice 
  • Altered Bodily Processes 
  • Research and Nursing Practice  
  • Clinical Practice Placements

Intellectual Disability Nursing Year 2

  • Adulthood and Intellectual Disabilities 
  • Children and Intellectual Disability

Year 3 (All Nursing Streams)

  • Ethics in Nursing 
  • Research and Nursing Practice 
  • Clinical Practice Placement

Intellectual Disability Nursing Year 3

  • Nursing Individuals with Challenging Behaviour 
  • Specialist Approaches in Nursing Practice: Intellectual Disability and Mental Health

Year 3 Options (General, Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Nursing)

  • Palliative Care 
  • Clinical Judgement and Decision Making 
  • Introduction to Critical Care Nursing Working for Inclusion

Year 4 (All Nursing Streams)

  • Nursing Informatics, Management and Leadership 
  • Health Promotion in a Multicultural Context 
  • Research Enquiry 
  • Clinical Practice Placement

Intellectual Disability Nursing Year 4

  • Contemporary Issues

For more information on the course structure click here

Fees and Funding

Fees Icon


Student Contribution.
€3,043 per annum
EU Status Fee
€7,149 per annum
Non EU Fee.
€15,000 per annum

How To Apply

How To Apply Icon

Applicants presenting EU/FETAC Level 5 examinations: Apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1st February or 1st May

Applicants presenting qualifications from outside of the EU can apply directly to DCU by July 1st via our online application portal here.

All candidates are required to apply through CAO. Mature Entry is for those that are 23 years of age or older by 1st January in the year of entry, applicants are also required to sit a test. Candidates are assessed by the Nursing Careers Centre (NCC) of An Bord Altranais agus Cnáimhseachais na hÉireann (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI). 

Mature entry route is based on applying for a nursing course via by 1st February or late application date of 1st May. Applicants can also avail of the change of mind facility on CAO up to 1st July. Although it is possible to make a late application to mature nursing, it is not possible to apply late for other mature entry routes. Other mature entry routes should be applied for by 1st February, to ensure they can engage in any mature assessments.

For details please visit: or email: to request a copy of their nursing and careers booklet.

No entry path

Candidates required to apply through the CAO can apply online at

Life On Campus

Life on Campus
DCU Campus Glasnevin

DCU Glasnevin Campus


FAQ Icon

What is the ratio of practical experience to lecture-based learning?
Approve 50:50

When and where do I complete my hospital placements?
Each year you will have the opportunity to practise nursing in the clinical setting in your linked healthcare service. These are called ‘practice placements’. During Years 3 and 4 longer periods are spent on these practice placements. In the last six months of the nursing programme, students do an internship (paid) in the healthcare setting.

Is there an erasmus as part of the Nursing course?
Erasmus does not currently form part of our Nursing courses.