In this article the author discusses the meaning of a conceptual framework in the curriculum, the advantages of a conceptual framework, the relationship of curriculum design to the conceptual framework and some types of conceptual framework used in nursing curricula. The conceptual framework in the curriculum process and the relationship of nursing theory to the conceptual framework are also discussed. This article presents some results of a survey of Australian post-basic clinical nursing courses and a content analysis of curricula for these courses. Such curricula are often perceived as based on nursing theory but in reality most appear to be heavily orientated to the medical model.