Palliative Care

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care was developed to provide a way to address the training needs of social workers involved in delivering care to people living with life-limiting or life-threatening illness and supporting informal caregivers both pre and post bereavement.

This course will be of interest to qualified social workers who are either working in generalist or specialist palliative care with adults. It may also be of interest to social workers learning or physical disability with adults, primary care, mental health, community mental health team for older people, older peoples' services, hospital social work posts or hard to reach populations (i.e. prison service, homelessness or addiction services) or who have people with palliative care needs on their caseload.

Online delivery will enable social workers across different countries, service user groups and settings, to apply.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), meeting all nine requirements.

This programme will not be suitable for sponsored visa students to attend. It is an online part time programme and international students may study this in their home countries.

The programme will be open for application every two years, commencing in September 2023.

Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:

Information and Support
• Through Canvas, you will have access to clear information about the content and assessment of each module, with clear learning outcomes and teaching methods that make up the course.

• You will receive clear explanations of the realistic expectations placed upon them for elements of study and the nature of autonomous, directed, collaborative and supported learning.

• You will be provided with up-to-date information about the learning support available to them remotely.

• You will receive a schedule or timetable for the delivery of lectures and tutorials/workshops (i.e. timetabled activities) as well as required learning activities, or home work tasks, as well as how to access peer support.

• You will receive appropriate training and learner support in the use of computing facilities (i.e. Canvas, MS Teams, QSIS, plagiarism detection software) as appropriate.

• You will have an identified contact (i.e. tutor and programme director) together with clear arrangements for contact (via email and phone)

• You will be provided with opportunities for inter-learner discussions to facilitate collaborative learning.

• You will have access to well-being services at QUB, and be able to register with student disability services for assessment and support, as required.

Subjects taught

Course Structure
Students may enrol on a part-time basis only. Modules are delivered online in blocks of four days every two weeks.

The Postgraduate Diploma is awarded to students who successfully complete six taught modules (120 CATS points).

An exit qualification is available: students may exit with a Postgraduate Certificate by successfully completing 60 CATS points from taught modules.

Core Modules (all 20 CATS points):
Principles of palliative care and illness
Lectures in this module will explore definitions, principles and philosophy of palliative care, they will differentiate between generalist and specialist palliative care, highlight key policies driving change in palliative care and the roles and responsibilities of palliative care social workers and multi-disciplinary team members. Tutorials/workshops in this module, will explore models of reflection, self-care, service user and carer experiences of palliative care, benefits and barriers to accessing palliative care, models of palliative care and methods for assessing needs, based on case scenarios.

Enhanced assessment, care planning and communication in palliative care
Lecture in this module will explore person-centred approaches, empowerment, advocacy and user involvement in assessment and care planning. You will be taught how theories of loss and grief inform assessments of need, the importance of care planning and information sharing, as well as advanced communication skills. The workshops will promote opportunities for students to apply theory to practice application (i.e. case scenarios, role plays and chairing family meetings or discharge planning meetings). They will also hear the voice of service users regarding their experiences of assessment, care planning and sharing / breaking bad news.

Ethics and law in palliative care
Lectures on this module will prompt students to consider the challenges emerging from ethical dilemmas and the implications of relevant policies or legislation that can arise during illness, loss and bereavement. Students will examine ways to identify and manage competing needs of service users, families or carers to make informed judgements in the context of relevant policy, legislation and contexts (i.e. refusal of treatment, preferred place of care, advance care planning, mental capacity, adult safeguarding and assisted dying). Tutorials/workshops will offer students the opportunity to hear the experiences of service users about how risks and rights were managed. Students will also have the opportunity to examine ethical dilemmas in more depth and practice skills required for advance care planning conversations through role-plays in small tutorial groups. Formative written feedback will be provided by the academic tutor for role-plays.

Care planning and intervention in palliative care
The lectures in this module will focus on the psychological, sociological, social and spiritual dimensions of loss, and will develop the insight of students into cultural sensitivities around illness, end-of-life care and bereavement. Students will also be introduced to principles and theory or systemic practice, and visual mapping techniques. The tutorials/workshops will provide opportunities for students to hear the experiences of service users regarding loss of role or identity and the financial, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions of life-limiting illness. They will be prompted to consider cultural competence and sensitivity when working with seldom heard service user groups, such as LGBTQQ+, prisoners and people experiencing homelessness). There will be two 4-hour workshops to explore what happens to families when someone takes ill from a systemic practice perspective, and practical application of ecomaps, timelines, and genograms.

Evidence informed practice and leadership
In this module, students will be introduced to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to demonstrate evidence-based, low intensity, psychological treatments for anxiety and depression. In the lectures, students will learn how to enable service users or carers (active or bereaved), to use self-help and self-management methods such as CBT manuals and computerised CBT. Workshops will allow opportunities to apply theory to practice with peers through role-plays. Teaching on this module will also improve students' understanding of how bereavement policies and standards inform policy and practice and they will explore the role of compassionate communities for loss and bereavement. Queen's Management School will deliver a specialist lecture on leadership networks, challenges and styles. Framing based on structural, family, political and symbolic leadership approaches. Exploring how groupthink conditions impact on leadership style. During workshops, students will be supported to identify their own mentoring and leadership style within teams, organisations/communities.

Identifying and appraising evidence to inform practice and developing research
Students will be taught about the hierarchy of research evidence, how to develop a research question and how to conduct literature searches on relevant databases. This module will also teach students how to appraise articles using Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist tools. The students will be introduced to key components of planning and conducting a small-scale research project, including methods of data collection and data analysis.

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a Bachelor Honours Degree in Social Work or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, or Master's Degree in Social Work (min 60% pass mark) or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Work or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, a Certificate in Social Service (CSS), or a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW).

Applicants must:
- Be registered with the NISCC, CORU or appropriate professional social work registration body.

- Have at least three years post qualifying social work experience or two year's experience in addition to the Assessed Year in Employment (NI applicants) by the date of commencement of the programme.

- Be employed in a social work post that includes working with people who have palliative care needs.

Application for Recognition of Prior Learning is not applicable to this programme.

Technical Requirements: A requirement for registration is that participants are computer literate and have reliable internet access and access to a computer, which will be assessed at interview.

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
• Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level

• Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

Application dates

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2023 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

How to Apply
Applications should be submitted online via the Postgraduate Applications Portal for admission to the vast majority of postgraduate programmes.

New applicants will need to register via the Portal to create an application account. If you are already a Queen's student with an active Qsis account, you can log in using your student number and Qsis password. Guidance on how to complete an application is provided within the Portal and it is possible to save application data and return to complete it at a later date, if you wish. After core details about yourself and your academic background have been provided, you can submit an application, or multiple applications, if required.

If you applied in a previous cycle through the Portal and are re-applying, you should use your previous log in details. Please review and update your personal and contact details, academic and professional qualifications before submitting a new application.

Important – please ensure that the email address you provide is correct and active, as this will be used by us to communicate the progress of your application to you.

Closing date: Friday 16th June 2023 at 4pm. Late applications may be considered.


2 years (Part Time).

Teaching Times
There will be 4 days of teaching per module (alternate Wednesdays). 28 hours directed learning and 172 self-directed learning per module (200 effort hours per module).

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), meeting all nine requirements.

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Diploma at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Part time

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    Course provider