PGCert Mental Health Law and Ethics

Explore the legal frameworks that underpin mental health practice, discover the ethical challenges faced when working in mental health settings and apply your knowledge and skills in practice.

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  • Overview

    Course Length: 1 Year Full-Time, 3 Years Part-Time
    Start Dates: September 2020, September 2021
    Subjects: Health and Social Care
    Mental Health and Counselling
    Location: Edge Hill University

    This course is aimed at professionals working in mental health settings. It will enable you to develop your understanding of the complex legal and ethical frameworks that apply to mental health practice. The programme will strengthen your knowledge and skills in engaging with clients’ legal and ethical needs and the structured and supportive framework will help you apply your learning in the workplace.

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    In Depth

    What will I study?

    In the first taught module, you will study the legal frameworks that apply to mental health settings which need to be considered when working with users of mental health services. This module will facilitate and further develop a critical awareness of the many complex areas relating to mental health law, and move you towards a position of defensible rather than defensive practices.

    The second taught module involves considering the ethical dilemmas and challenges that can face practitioners working in the mental health arena and in particular the relationship between bioethical theories and the law. A work-based learning module concludes the programme and allows you to apply what you have learnt to your practice.

    How will I study?

    The two taught modules on the programme are delivered via face-to-face sessions at Edge Hill University. Half-day attendance, once a week over two semesters, is typically required.

    The work-based learning module involves the construction of an individual learning agreement. You will then be supported to apply the learning from the legal and ethical modules to your practice.

    How will I be assessed?

    You will be assessed through a combination of presentations, case studies as well as critical reflection and deconstruction. The practice-focused module will involve a negotiated assessment.

    Who will be teaching me?

    The programme is delivered by a dedicated team of research-active professionals and guest speakers drawn from a broad range of health and social care professions. These include experienced mental health practitioners, approved clinicians and lawyers.

    A Great Study Environment

    The Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine is one of the leading providers of education and training for health and social care professionals in the North West of England.

    Offering some of the best facilities for health, social care and medicine students in the country, the outstanding teaching and learning resources include leading edge clinical skills facilities, an 860-seat lecture theatre, and a variety of teaching rooms and social learning spaces.

    The faculty is home to a thriving research culture which includes a series of staff and student conference programmes, guest lectures and seminars, as well as active research groups.


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    HEA4034Negotiated Learning Shell (20 credits)

    Negotiated Learning Shell provides an opportunity for you to study a topic or work-related issue at Masters level. It involves you identifying the chosen area for study before developing and negotiating a learning contract, which will outline the what, how, when, where and why of the study period as well as the means of assessment to showcase the acquired learning.

    Assessment: Coursework: 100%.

    HEA4195Ethics, The Law and Decision Making (20 credits)

    Ethics, The Law and Decision Making enables you to critically analyse the relationship between bioethical theories and the law’s application of these, in the context of decision-making in clinical practice. You will explore how bioethical theory is interpreted within professional standards and the law. You will also be encouraged to build upon existing knowledge and practice experience to develop a critical understanding of the complex issues that affect decision making.

    Assessment: Coursework: 100%.

    HEA9085Mental Health Law and Defensible Practice (20 credits)

    Mental Health Law and Defensible Practice recognises that essentially the statutory roles of staff in practice have changed significantly with the amendments to the Mental Health Act. Traditional roles undertaken by social workers and doctors have now been broadened to other registered professions such as nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists. Therefore, a gap exists in the skill development of staff in practice to work with the new legislation and gain a robust evidence base to support clinical decision making. With this in mind, the module will advance your mental health practice.

    Assessment: Coursework: 100%.

    For more information about each module, including the dates and times of module sessions, please visit


    You can expect to receive your timetable at enrolment. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day or evening of the week.


    Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our published course information, however our programmes are subject to ongoing review and development. Changing circumstances may necessitate alteration to, or the cancellation of, courses.

    Changes may be necessary to comply with the requirements of accrediting bodies, revisions to subject benchmarks statements, to keep courses updated and contemporary, or as a result of student feedback. We reserve the right to make variations if we consider such action to be necessary or in the best interests of students.

    Entry Criteria

    Entry Requirements

    You need to be working in a professional role within a mental health setting in order to fulfil the learning outcomes of the programme. This work-based access could be either on a voluntary basis or in your workplace.

    The normal minimum entry requirement is a degree equivalent to UK first-class or second-class honours (2:2 or above) in a health or social care related subject. The focus for the programme is to link theory to practice; you are expected to be working in an environment that allows you to meet the learning outcomes of the course. All applicants will be offered an academic interview prior to commencement of the programme.

    Recognition of Prior Learning

    Edge Hill University recognises learning gained elsewhere, whether through academic credit and qualifications acquired from other relevant courses of study or through recognition of an individual’s professional and employment experience (also referred to as ‘experiential learning’). This may include credit or learning undertaken at another university.

    Previous learning that is recognised in this way may be used towards meeting the entry requirements for a programme and/or for exemption from part of a programme. It is your responsibility to make a claim for recognition of prior learning. For guidance, please consult the University’s academic regulations (sections C7 and F3.1) or contact the faculty in which you are interested in studying.

    Career Prospects

    What are my career prospects?

    The course is designed to assist professionals to demonstrate achievement and progression within the knowledge and skills framework and will assist practitioners to move up the skill escalator.

    The course is especially relevant to practitioners working within newly constructed advanced practice roles – Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), Approved Clinician (AC) and Responsible Clinician (RC) – within mental health services.


    Tuition Fees

    Tuition fees for studying on this Postgraduate Certificate are:

    • £34 per credit for UK and EU students enrolling on the programme in academic year 2020/21, i.e. £680 per 20 credit module;
    • £35 per credit for UK and EU students enrolling on the programme in academic year 2021/22, i.e. £700 per 20 credit module.

    60 credits are required to complete a Postgraduate Certificate.

    The University may administer a small inflationary rise in part-time postgraduate tuition fees in subsequent academic years as you progress through the course.

    Financial Support

    For comprehensive information about the financial support available to eligible UK and EU students joining postgraduate courses at Edge Hill University in academic year 2020/21, together with details of how to apply for potential funding, please view our Money Matters 2020/21 guide at


    How to Apply

    Apply directly to Edge Hill University.

    Download the Health and Social Care Professional Development pathway application form (pdf) and notes for guidance (pdf).

    Visit to access the relevant application form and to find out more about the application process.

    Should you accept an offer of a place to study with us and formally enrol as a student, you will be subject to the provisions of the regulations, rules, codes, conditions and policies which apply to our students. These are available at

    Get in Touch

    If you have any questions about this programme, please contact:

    • Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine Student Recruitment and Marketing Support Team
    • Tel: 01695 657249
    • Email:

    If you would like to talk to the programme leader about the course in more detail, please contact:

    Course Changes

    Expand All This page outlines any material changes to course content, programme structure, assessment methods, entry criteria, and modes of study or delivery, implemented in the past two years.