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Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Social Work


Social worker with a blind service user

We are delighted to be launching a new postgraduate qualifying route, starting in January 20181.

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 the January 2018 intake have now closed.  If you are interested in applying for the January 2019 intake, applications will open again in April 2018.

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

Downloadable forms

If you are an employer who is already supporting social work students with the OU, you can make new postgraduate bookings in the same way as for undergraduates. You should have received your annual Continuing Students Mailing in April; if you have not received your mailing or would like to request a duplicate, please email us at

Employers in England who are new to social work at The Open University or returning after a break, please use our Expression of Interest and Agency Information form (Word); in Scotland please contact or if you're in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, phone us on +44(0)28 9024 5025 or email