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Advanced Social Work with Children and Families MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Course Description

This is a part-time modular programme providing continuing professional education for registered social workers who are currently working with children and young people, their families and carers in the UK.

The programme leads to one of three awards; you can enter at MSc, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma level. Alternatively, you are welcome simply to take any of our units on a credit-only basis.

The programme is normally accessed by qualified social workers as part of their employment with local authorities or voluntary/independent sector organisations in the South West of England. However, we also welcome applications from appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners/managers working elsewhere in the UK. It is managed in partnership with local employers.

Programme structure

The programme is timetabled so that you study on a part-time basis, and access to units is modular.

Postgraduate Certificate students must take three units, normally including at least two of the four core units. If only two core units are taken as part of the Postgraduate Certificate, the remaining 20 credits are taken from the optional units (a total of 60 credit points).

Postgraduate Diploma and Master's students must take all four core units and two of the optional units (a total of 120 credit points).

You will undertake research methods training before accessing the dissertation unit. This is normally achieved through successful completion of the research methods unit, Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences.

Successful completion of the dissertation leads to the full Master's award (a total of 180 credit points).

Credit-only students can undertake any of the units available on the programme. This will give students the opportunity to gain academic credits towards their continuing professional development. However, if students wish to build up academic credits in order to gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma or MSc, they will need to take careful note of the requirements for these programmes in terms of mandatory and optional units.

There is also a Graduate Certificate in Social Work with Children and Families for potential students without an undergraduate qualification.

Core units:
-Child Development, Health and Wellbeing
-Contemporary Law and Policy for Child Welfare Services
-Assessment, Risk and Decision-Making
-Social Work with Children and Families with Complex Needs

Optional units - You will be able to choose from a range of optional units. Please note optional units can change from year to year, but may include:
-Advanced Practice in Communication and Direct Work with Children
-Advanced Practice with Looked-after Children; Adoption, Fostering and Kinship Care
-Leadership and Management in Social Work
-Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences
-Researching Child and Family Welfare
-Supervision and Assessment of Professional Practice (Practice Educator Stage 2)


Students on the MSc in Advanced Social Work with Children and Families are qualified and experienced social workers, who are currently employed in a variety of children and family settings in the UK. The programme is aligned with the Professional Capabilities Framework and the chief social worker's knowledge and skills statement. It has been designed to provide high-quality continuing professional development for social work practitioners and managers. Successful completion of the programme will support professional registration and enhance opportunities for career progression.

Visit the Advanced Social Work with Children and Families MSc/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Professional social work qualification (or equivalent) and current registration with the HCPC (or equivalent elsewhere in the UK). An honours degree (or equivalent qualification demonstrated through experience in the field), and a demonstrated ability to study at postgraduate level. As part of the application, you will be asked to submit a personal statement of 550-700 words (300-500 words for those undertaking individual 'credit only' units). As this is a practice-focused programme, students are required to be in professional social work practice in the UK in some capacity throughout their time on the programme.

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