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Safeguarding Adults: Law Policy & Practice MA/PGCert/PGDip

This Masters degree programme, run by the School of Law, is designed for social, legal, police, healthcare and other professionals working with adults. The course is specially designed so that it may be taken by those who are in full-time employment.


The central aims of the course are to update and enhance knowledge of relevant law and research literature as it applies to safeguarding adults in a variety of settings, and to provide an opportunity for experienced practitioners to further develop and critically reflect upon their skills.

It aims to promote anti-discriminatory practice, inter-agency understanding, and interdisciplinary working. The course also aims to develop research and analytical skills and to provide a foundation for pursuing further study at doctoral level. It is an interdisciplinary course comprising contributions from law, ethics, policy, practice, and health.

The course is taught by staff in the School of Law at Keele, as well as a variety of external guest lecturers. In recent years, we have welcomed a number of guest lecturers including Professor Suzy Braye, Dr Margaret Flynn, Alex Ruck Keene, and Professor Wayne Martin. 

Prospective applicants are very welcome to contact the Programme Director, Laura Pritchard-Jones, to discuss the course.


The aims of this programme are to introduce key principles of interdisciplinary socio-legal research methods and scholarship, facilitate the development of higher-level critical analysis, and develop the students’ capacity for original thinking in relation to the complex issues arising in socio-legal scholarship. More specifically, the programme aims to:

  • Develop a practical and theoretical understanding of safeguarding adults;
  • Develop a critical awareness of the social and political contexts in which adult safeguarding law and practice is located;
  • Develop a critical perspective in the assessment and evaluation of research, law scholarship, policy and practice in adult safeguarding;
  • Develop critical and analytical skills in order to interrogate practical legal problems and to justify decisions;
  • Develop the ability to work independently in a coherent, focused and productive way;
  • Encourage interdisciplinarity through the student experience – inter-professional student groups, learning and teaching provided by a range of academics, professionals and policy makers.

The programme is structured in a way that allows students to maintain full-time employment while studying, with teaching for each module taking place over intensive 3 or 4-day periods. The programme, therefore, is designed to appeal to both the ‘conventional’ postgraduate student and specifically, those already engaged professionally in this area of activity, in social work, health, the legal profession, or otherwise.


To achieve the MA students will study four taught modules followed by a dissertation module. As an alternative, it is possible to exit the course with a Postgraduate Certificate (on satisfactory completion of 2 taught modules) or a Postgraduate Diploma (on satisfactory completion of 4 taught modules). A student must complete all four taught modules before proceeding to the dissertation module.

There are two compulsory modules:

  • LAW-40033 The Emergence of Adult Safeguarding, and
  • LAW-40032 Safeguarding Adults: Interventions.

These modules provide a foundation for the understanding of, and critical engagement with, adult safeguarding. They also introduce students to the research skills and critical analysis necessary for the successful completion of a Masters programme, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary socio-legal research methods.

Thereafter, students will take two further elective modules, usually:

  • LAW-40029 Mental Capacity and
  • LAW-40031 Safeguarding and Carers

Where the student has the required qualifications, they may elect to study the Best Interests Assessor module, also offered by the School of Law, instead of LAW-40029 Mental Capacity.

Students may also substitute either of these two electives for a module from another M level programme offered by the Law School. Availability of these elective modules will depend on timetabling but may include:

  • Equality, Discrimination, Minorities
  • Human Rights and Global Politics
  • Foundations and Principles of Child Care Law and Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Child Care Law and Practice
  • Children and Medicine
  • Looked After Children
  • Education Law
  • Introduction to Moral and Legal Concepts (in Medical Ethics and Law)
  • Autonomy and Paternalism (in Medical Ethics and Law)
  • Life, Death and Human Body
  • Healthcare, Justice and Society

Dissertation (60 credits)

The final form of assessment is the dissertation, which is an extended (15,000 – 20,000 words) in-depth piece of writing that brings together all of the skills that students have learned throughout the programme.

The dissertation module runs through the whole of the final year for students who are studying their MA on a part-time, and concurrently alongside the taught modules for students who are studying on a full-time basis. It is mainly comprised of personal study and research under the guidance of an individual supervisor. At the start of the year students will attend a research training day which is designed to equip students with the necessary research skills to plan, research, and write a dissertation.

Students select their own topic, with their titles being approved by the course team and external examiner. Assessment of the proposal and presentation is as a competency assessment.


Assessment is based on coursework and a dissertation. There are no exams. Assessment of each taught module is by written assignment of approximately 5,000 words each. A choice of essay titles is provided for each block. For the dissertation, the emphasis is on independent research – there is a research methods assignment of 2,000 words formatively assessed, and a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The pass mark for all assessments is 50%.

The modules are taught through 20 hours of contact time, delivered as an intensive 3 or 4-day block of teaching.    

During the module, students will take part in tutor-led seminars and discussions, small group exercises, and case studies.  Each module is accompanied by extensive independent study and throughout the course students are encouraged and required to undertake independent reading to both supplement and consolidate the classes and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.  

Visit the Safeguarding Adults: Law Policy & Practice MA/PGCert/PGDip page on the Keele University website for more details!




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