If things go wrong

In most cases, if you fail a module you’ll be given one or two further attempts to pass.

If you fail a clinical placement it may depend on the circumstances which led you to fail, as to whether you can have a second or third attempt.

Female counsellor and student

You may not need to return to the same placement and may be able to transfer your failed learning objectives to your next placement. Rules for this differ from course to course, so you should speak to your personal tutor.

Support from tutors

In all cases you should seek support from tutors to:

  • identify the reasons you failed
  • make sure your tutor is aware of any circumstances that affected your performance
  • use the feedback and extra support offered to improve your chances of passing next time

Be positive and keep in mind that your university will want you to succeed and continue on the course.

“The key to being successful a second time is to seek out and make the most of the feedback and extra support that you will be given.”

Elizabeth Lee-Woolf, academic lead for the student experience and senior academic adviser, University of Manchester

Other sources of support

Speak to other students and if possible set up peer support groups to practise clinical procedures or talk through essay topics.

If your university has a mentor system you may be able to get help from a student in the years above your course.

Other sources of support include:

  • student year representatives
  • the student representative from your professional body such as the Royal College of Nursing or Royal College of Midwives

Tips and alternative ideas 

See the boxes below for tips to help if you've changed your mind and for other careers and courses to consider.


  • Here are some tips to help you if you've changed your mind about the course you're on:

    • before you make any decisions to leave your course, speak to your personal tutor
    • if you haven’t completed your first year you may be able to transfer to another course at the same university. Alternatively, university accreditation of prior learning (APL) systems may mean you can apply elsewhere and be credited for what you have achieved so far
    • if you have completed one or more years of the course, you may be able to obtain a qualification appropriate to your course, for example a certificate or diploma in higher education or a foundation degree in healthcare studies or healthcare science. With further study you could top this up to a degree either at your current university or elsewhere. This would enable you to apply for vocational postgraduate courses in other clinical areas.
    • your university should be able to write you a reference to show your achievements and provide evidence to ensure there isn’t a gap on your CV
    • consider the skills you have gained which will be transferable to other jobs, for example, problem solving, using your initiative, people skills, organisational skills and team working.
    • don’t forget to access help from your university careers service, including one-to-one advice and guidance on options for your next step, employment or a course. This service often continues after you have left the course. professional bodies also offer careers advice for their members. For example if you’re a nursing student, the Royal College of Nursing can help you work through self-assessment exercises and has a member support services helpline. You can find details of the professional bodies and other organisations relevant to your chosen profession on the appropriate role page on this website
    • professional bodies’ websites also list other organisations that can provide support, such as Pharmacist Support
    • you could apply to do the whole course again at a later date at the same or another university. Bear in mind admissions staff will want to know what has changed in terms of your personal situation or extra experience you have gained, to show you are likely to succeed a second time. You’ll also need to check whether you can still receive financial support to do the course again, especially as funding for health-related courses is set to change from September 2017. For details of financial support from the NHS, visit the NHS Business Services Authority website
  • Clinical support staff work across the health sector including hospitals, clinics and the community. Examples of roles in clinical support include healthcare assistants, maternity support workers and physiotherapy support workers.

    Find out more about clinical support roles.

  • Physician associates work under direct supervision of a doctor in a hospital or GP surgery. You will need a science or health-related degree or to be a registered healthcare professional. Training for the role is through a Physician Associate Postgraduate Diploma or MSc.

    Read more about the role and watch Health Education West Midlands' YouTube video.

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