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Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Social Work


Social worker with a blind service user

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  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 and Scotland.  It is approved as a social work qualifying award by Social Work England (SWE), and in Scotland by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

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

If you are interested in our programmes, below is some useful information about programme content, entry requirements, fees and how to apply:

Information for employers in England (pdf)

Information for potential students in England (pdf)

Funding options for postgraduate students in England 

Information for potential students and/or employers in Scotland

If you are based in Scotland please email the Scotland team ( or call 0131 226 3851. 



Academic entry requirements

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 government's exam certificate website. Original copies of the above documentation will be required if an applicant is invited to attend a Selection Day.

Application and selection

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. Please email the Social Work team ( to request a copy.

For information on implementing our social work programmes in your agency please download our Employer Handbook.

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 April. If this form has not arrived, please email the Social Work team ( to request a copy.

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

Requests for applications for the January/February 2024 intake will close on 4 August 2023.



Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a degree in a relevant health/societal/psychology or other cognate discipline such as:

  • Health and Social Care
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology/Social Studies
  • Law/Legal studies
  • Teaching/Education

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.

Numeracy is required - either certificate of SCQF level 5 numeracy or a short numeracy test will be administered.

Evidence of all academic and vocational qualifications will be required at interview.

If an applicant cannot locate their certificates, replacements may be requested via the Scottish government's exam certificate website.

You can check with our team whether your combination of academic and practice experience meets our entry requirements by emailing The Open University in Scotland (

Candidates with a relevant undergraduate degree and a proven record of experience of working directly with Service Users in a professional Social Care setting for a minimum of one year are invited to apply.

Application and selection process

The PG Dip in Scotland is available to both sponsored and independent students. Applications for the January 2025 intake for Independent students will close on Friday 12th April 2024. For sponsored students, please discuss with your employing agency for further information and deadlines.

Sponsored applicants

Employers wishing to support and sponsor candidates should email the Social Work Scotland team ( discuss your requirements.

Independent applicants

Self-funding candidates can apply directly for the PGDip and should email The Open University in Scotland (
It is important to ensure that your employer will allow you to undertake pre-module and early-module practice experience activities in your own workplace and will release you for the 2 periods of practice learning.