This is a professional social work qualification, combining academic and practice-based learning. It will enable you to apply for registration as a qualified social worker with the relevant regulatory body for your nation. The subject matter is interdisciplinary, derived from psychology, sociology, social policy, law and social work studies. You may claim the diploma as a discrete qualification, or as an embedded award within the MA in Social Work.
Key features of the course
• Approved as a social work qualifying award in England by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and in Scotland by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
• Includes a residential weekend, face-face workshops and two substantive work-based practice placements under the supervision of a practice educator
• Equips you to engage in critical and reflective professional practice, according to the Standards for social work education and Codes of Practice and Conduct for the nation in which you train.
To gain this qualification you require:
120 credits from the following compulsory modules which must be studied in the order listed below.
Compulsory modules Credits
Developing social work practice (K832) 60
Advancing social work practice (K833) 60
You'll be required to attend compulsory practice skills workshops on these modules and a compulsory residential weekend (or online alternative) on Developing social work practice (K832).
You should note that the University's unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.
Applicants will be required to have an honours degree with a minimum 2:2 classification in any discipline together with a proven record of experience of engaging directly with Service Users in a professional setting. Candidates' experience will be considered individually on application but we would normally expect a minimum of one year's experience – either paid or voluntary – in a setting such as a local authority or a health or social care provider in the private, voluntary or independent sector.
Applicants who do not meet the work experience requirement but hold a 2:1 classification in a cognate discipline will also be considered. Relevant subjects include:
Health and Social Care
In addition, you must satisfy the following entry criteria:
Complete an OU application form which will include a personal statement, references and employer's endorsement
Complete a declaration of suitability for social work
Have GCSE grade 9–4 (A*–C) in English and mathematics or certified equivalent
Demonstrate IT competence through self-declaration
Achieve an International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) score of 7 if English is not your first language
Undertake a written test
Take part in an interview
Have an enhanced DBS with lists check (i.e. checks against all registers including both children and vulnerable adults) dated within one year prior to starting the programme
Complete a health check. If, in exceptional circumstances, there are serious doubts about your fitness to practice on health grounds, the University's doctor may ask you to undergo a medical examination.
This examination will be at your own expense.
You must be supported by your employer, who must undertake to provide the required practice learning opportunities. Applications for this qualification can only be made via the supporting agency.
In Scotland, due to the selection process and pre-entry Reflective Practice Activities necessary for this programme, applications close on Tuesday 11 April 2023 for entry in January 2024.
Applicants are expected to hold a degree in a relevant health/societal/psychology or other cognate discipline such as:
Health and Social Care
Holders of other degrees may be considered, depending on the content of their degree, completion of other relevant qualifications, work/volunteer experience etc.
Applicants must also have a proven record of experience of engaging directly with Service Users in a professional setting. Candidates' experience will be considered individually on application, but we would normally expect a minimum of one year's experience – either paid or voluntary – in a setting such as a local authority or a health or social care provider in the private, voluntary or independent sector.
In addition, you must:
Complete an OU application form including a personal statement and satisfactory references
Be part of a selection process including an interview and written task
Demonstrate that you have appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to train as a social worker
Demonstrate your ability to understand and communicate in written and spoken English
Provide evidence of numeracy equivalent to a minimum SCQF level 5
Core Skills Numeracy at Grade C. The Scottish Qualifications
Certificate documents the Core Skills Profile. Numeracy skills may also be evidenced by a numeracy test during the selection process if you do not hold an appropriate qualification.
Register as a student social worker with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) which includes a check under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme
You must also have the support of your employer:
This may involve them sponsoring you on the programme, which involves paying your fees, arranging your placements and supporting you through the programme.
If you are making an individual (Independent) application, you will still be required to obtain a line manager's/supervisor's reference which takes the form of a supportive statement, asking them to provide their opinion on your personal qualities and suitability to undertake training as a social worker.
Whether you are an Independent or Sponsored student, any offer of a place is conditional on successful completion of pre-entry Reflective Practice Activities (equivalent to 30 days practice) prior to module registration. This includes a Direct Observation by a Practice Educator and verification by a supervisor/line manager undertaken in your workplace. Further details will be provided to successful candidates.
Your employer would also have to agree to release you for 2 periods of practice learning (170 days in total) during the programme.
Minimum – 17 months.
How long it takes
This qualification comprises two modules, K832 and K833. We advise that the minimum time required to complete this qualification is 17 months, and most students will be able to achieve the qualification within this timescale by successfully completing the modules in sequence.
Average study time per week is likely to be 12–15 hours, but will be considerably higher during periods of practice-based learning when you will typically be required to attend the placement setting four days per week for up to 23 weeks at a time.
Post Course Info
On successful completion of the diploma, you will become eligible to apply for registration as a qualified social worker in England. This is a broad qualification spanning children and families, adults and mental health social work and prepares you to work in a range of settings including local authorities, healthcare providers and the private, voluntary and independent sector.
Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.