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Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Social Work


Social worker with a blind service user

Applications for January/February 2020 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 is generally delivered collaboratively with social work employers but in Scotland it can be studied independently with support from an employer.

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 in Scotland has been approved by the SSSC as it meets the requirements  for registration as a newly qualified social worker.

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).

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 2020 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, 2018/19 (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 0131 226 3851. 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 in England, you will need to complete a Degree Selector Approval Form

In Scotland, please contact or 0131 226 3851 to discuss your requirements.

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 2019. If this form has not arrived by the end of April 2019, please contact us on 01908 654229 or email and we will arrange for one to be sent. 

In Scotland please contact or 0131 226 3851.

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.

Application and Selection Process: Scotland

The PG Dip in Scotland is available to both sponsored and non-sponsored students. Employers wishing to support and sponsor candidates should contact or 0131 226 3851 to discuss your requirements.

Self funding candidates can apply directly for the PG Dip and should contact or 0131 226 3851. It is important to ensure that your employer agrees to release you for 2 periods of practice learning between March 2020 and April 2022.

Candidates with relevant undergraduate degrees and practice experience are invited to apply.

Academic entry requirements – Documentation required

England: 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)
  • Fully enhanced DBS which includes both Adults and Children

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.

Scotland: Please check with our team whether your combination of academic and practice experience meets our entry requirements before submitting your application.

  • Evidence of all academic and vocational qualifications will be required at interview.
  • Numeracy is required - either certificates of SCQF level 5 numeracy or a short numeracy test will be administered.

If an applicant cannot locate their certificates, replacements may be requested via the following website


England: The Expression of Interest Form and Booking Form for New and Continuing Students must be returned no later than 2nd August 2019.   Please email the form to:

Scotland: All completed application forms must be returned to the Social Work Coordinator by 2nd September 2019