Mental Health & Mental Capacity Law

The MSc in Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law provides the required training for social workers to undertake the role of Approved Social Worker under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 and the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.

This is a statutory role and applications must have the support of a Health and Social Care Trust. The PG Diploma provides the qualification for practising as an Approved Social Worker and then the Dissertation Module must be successfully completed for the MSc..

Please note that this course is not eligible for a Tier 4 visa.

Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law highlights

The PG Diploma/MSc is the training for social workers to undertake the specialist role of an Approved Social Worker under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 and the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.

Professional Accreditations
•This programme has been accredited by the Northern Ireland Post-Qualifying Education and Training Partnership and meets the requirements at the specialist and leadership levels.

Industry Links
•On this programme there will be restricted access to relevant data by employers, the NISCC, DoH, HSC Boards and any successor bodies.
•For social workers, the programme reflects the Department of Health policy in relation to social work and social care training and development (the Personal Social Services Development and Training Strategy, 2006-16), including links with the Northern Ireland Post-Qualifying Education and Training Partnership's professional requirements and awards in the specialist and leadership categories.

Career Development
•Professional Development For multi-disciplinary applicants the programmes offer relevant CPD opportunities as well as recognised qualifications accredited by the University which will augment their professional development and enhance the development of further opportunities in their chosen field of practice.

Student Experience
•The Programme Director has developed and nurtured their subject proficiency via their own practice, teaching and research in relation to their specialist area and they impart this trilateral expertise to the students via teaching on the MSc.

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements

Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Where this is not met, applicants must demonstrate that their experience and qualifications enable them to study at postgraduate level by showing either that they have the Pre-2007 Post-Qualifying Social Work Award or by producing a reflective assignment on their practice in this area (2,000 words).

Applicants must be nominated by their Health and Social Care Trust/employer who will undertake to provide support and appropriate learning opportunities. It will be the responsibility of employers to ensure that applicants have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate social work competence in their work with people who have a mental disorder and/or lack capacity, and their carers.

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 6.5, 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.


3 years part-time

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects

Continuing professional registration in social work is predicated on continuing professional development, which this programme and its pathways offer. The DoH has directed that social workers demonstrate their competence covered in the curricula of this programme and its pathways.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Subjects taught

Course Structure

The MSc in Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law is awarded to students who successfully complete taught modules (PG Diploma,120 CATS points) and a 15,000 – 20,000 word dissertation (60 CATS points).

Course Details
Core Modules (40 CATS points each):

Context and Concepts in Mental Health
Law Ethics and Applied Law in Mental Health
Social Work Practice Development in Mental Health

Dissertation (60 CATS points)

Assessment method


Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

Assessment methods include written assignments, observations of practice, projects, and a dissertation (for the final 60 credits).

Application date

Closing date for applications: Friday 31st July 2020 at 4pm.

Late applications may be considered.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year 2020

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