Taught course

Professional Social Work Practice

University of Bedfordshire · Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree at Honours level, or equivalent. This course is not open to direct application - apply via the Department for Education. In order to be eligible for this course you must have a first degree (First Class or Upper Second Class honours) in any discipline, in addition, you must meet the Department for Education criteria of having experience of working with children, young people and families and demonstrate emotional resilience. You must also have achieved at least Key Skills level 2 in English and Mathematics (normally equivalent to grade C in the GCSE examination in English and Mathematics).

The initial recruitment process will be managed nationally by the Department for Education and applicants will then be shortlisted and interviewed locally by regional employers and their partner HEIs, in this case the University of Bedfordshire. You will be required to demonstrate substantial relevant experience and an aptitude to work with children and families in need, i.e. the appropriate personal qualities, values and skills to be a social worker (i.e. the Professional Capabilities Framework at entry level). The local selection process will include a written task, group exercise, role play and personal interview in accordance with the College of Social Work guidance on recruitment.

You will be required to declare any previous offences (including reprimands and formal warnings) and any previous disciplinary matters, and if selected, you will be required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure your suitability for working with vulnerable groups. In addition you will need to complete a health declaration and give permission for contact with your GP, where necessary, to confirm your suitability for Social Work training and professional registration. If you have relevant prior experience and /or certificated learning you may be able to claim RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) in accordance with the University's published criteria and up to a maximum of 60 academic credits at M level.

Months of entry


Course content

About the course

The practical, work-based course will give you the chance to achieve a nationally recognised professional qualification in Social Work together with a postgraduate academic award.

You will acquire the systematic and independent ability to critically evaluate both current theoretical understanding and practice, and develop skills to apply knowledge-informed and evidence based practice in your workplace.

You will also have the opportunity to undertake a piece of supervised original research.

Intermediate qualifications available:

  • Postgraduate certificate – 60 credits at Masters level

Key features

  • Study and evaluate the power structures in society which create inequalities, and acquire an awareness of the tools and techniques which can be used to counter them.
  • Explore your own and others’ practice and current research in the discipline.
  • Develop a deep and systematic understanding of the applied social sciences, including sociology, social policy, law and ethics, and the way these disciplines inform social work knowledge and practice.
  • Gain a critical awareness of current issues in the practice of social work, and learn the approaches required to address them.
  • Benefit from opportunities to develop the skills of initiative, resourcefulness, critical reflection and emotional literacy that you will need in order to develop creative and sympathetic solutions to human problems.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Social Work Practice (Step Up to Social Work) course is an innovative work-based course, commissioned by two regional employer partnerships to provide high quality work-based education and training for aspiring social workers.

Funded by the Department for Education, students on this course will receive a bursary and will be fully supported by a Local Authority Children’s Services Department.

Areas of study

  • Developing Professional Social Work Practice
  • Ethical Perspectives on Law and Society
  • Advanced Skills for Critical and Reflective Social Work Practice
  • Research Informed Child Care Practice

Career prospects

Graduates achieving the Postgraduate Diploma will be eligible to apply to enter the HCPC Professional Register as qualified social workers and to work in a wide range of statutory, private, voluntary and independent organisations providing services to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals, children, families, groups and communities.

They will also be eligible to progress to the Masters stage where they would be supervised to undertake a piece of original research of relevance to their practice area, alongside their full-time employment.

Post-qualifying (PQ) level study is also available to qualified social workers in a range of settings, allowing graduates to engage in continuous professional development and demonstrate their fitness for continuing registration.

Students who complete the Master of Professional Social Work Practice will also be well-placed to progress on to one of the Department of Applied Social Studies Professional Doctorate (DProf) awards in due course to enhance their own knowledge and career development as well as being able to make a distinctive contribution to their profession.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months

Course contact details

+44 (0)1234 400 400