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Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Social Work


Social worker with a blind service user

Applications for January/February 2019 are now open.

Employers told us that we could help deliver their workforce development objectives by introducing a postgraduate-level social work qualification, which will offer candidates who already hold a first degree the opportunity to qualify more quickly. Through our Postgraduate Diploma, students will be able to qualify as a social worker in less than 18 months2.

Our new qualification will cover children and families, adults and mental health social work with reference throughout to the legal context.  In our fully integrated approach, practice learning is undertaken alongside skills development and theoretical learning. The programme is work-based and delivered collaboratively by the OU and social work employers.

The postgraduate programme includes a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, and an MA in Social Work. The PG Dip is approved as a qualifying award for entry to the HCPC register for social workers in England and provisionally approved (subject to conditions) by the SSSC in Scotland3.

1 Start date 28 January 2018
2 Subject to satisfactory progress
3 Please see 'geographical availability' below for further information

Geographical availability

The full masters programme (including the PG Dip) is available for study in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  It is 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) (subject to conditions).

We have not applied for approval from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), however reciprocal arrangements are currently in place such that any social work qualifying award approved by one UK regulator, will be recognised by the other three. The PG Dip is not currently available to students working in Wales. If you plan to apply for the full MA or the PG Dip in England or Scotland with the intention of working in Wales after qualification, you are advised to discuss this with the relevant regulatory body in advance.

Candidates who already hold a qualifying Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work from another HEI, may be eligible for credit transfer to register directly onto the dissertation module in order to 'top up' to the MA. This option will be available across the UK.

Further information and how to apply

Applications for January/February 2019 are now open.

Further information about programme content, entry requirements, fees and how to apply can be found in our information sheets:

Information for employers in England (pdf)

Information for potential students in England (pdf)

Funding options for postgraduate students in England, 2017/18 (pdf)

Information for employers in Scotland (pdf)

Information for potential students in Scotland (pdf)

If you're in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, please phone us on +44(0)28 9024 5025 or email

Application and selection process

Forms for new employers

If you are interested in sponsoring a candidate on the Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Social Work programme, or haven't sponsored a candidate on an Open University Social Work programme within the last 4 years, you will need to complete an Expression of Interest Form. If you are based in Scotland please contact or if you are in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, phone us on +44(0)28 9024 5025 or email

If you wish to conduct your own selection process, you will need to complete a Degree Selector Approval Form.

Forms for existing employers

If you are already sponsoring candidates on our Social Work degree programmes, your Agency Coordinator will be emailed a Booking Form for New and Continuing Students in March/April 2018. If this form has not arrived by the end of April 2018, please contact us on 01908 654229 or email and we will arrange for one to be sent.

Upon receipt of your booking form, you will be sent the necessary application and registration paperwork.

If you have been granted approval to undertake your own selection on behalf of the University, in addition to arranging for the application paperwork to be completed by each applicant, you will also need to attach a Checklist of Entry Documents and Selection Outcome Form.

Academic entry requirements – Documentation required

Please check all applicants meet the academic entry requirements before they submit their application. We cannot accept applications where results are outstanding. All applicants must submit a copy of the following documents, to confirm they meet the academic entry requirements, with their application:

  • Numeracy certificate
  • English certificate
  • Degree certificate
  • IELTS certificate (only if English is not their first language)

If an applicant cannot locate their certificates, replacements may be requested via the following website Original copies of the above documentation will be required if an applicant is invited to attend a Selection Day.


The Expression of Interest Form and Booking Form for New and Continuing Students must be returned no later than 3 August 2018 for those wishing to commence their studies in January/February 2019. Please email the form to:

Applications for a January/February 2019 start will close on 3 September 2018.