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Social work is demanding but rewarding. Every day you’ll face different challenges, working in diverse communities and helping individuals with complex needs.

Our programme

Delivered on behalf of the Learn Together Partnership as part of the national Step Up to Social Work scheme, this postgraduate diploma in social work prepares you for a career in social work with a specific focus and emphasis on child and family social work practice. The programme features eligibility for professional accreditation and professional practice placements.

We’ll show you how to communicate and empathise with individuals from a range of communities and backgrounds, assess needs and risks, and plan for enabling and supporting constructive change. These are essential skills for working in the multidisciplinary environments common in contemporary social work settings.

Application is via the Department for Education Step Up to Social Work portal. The next intake will begin in January 2024.

Apply via the Step Up to Social Work portal Step Up to Social Work training and funding

If you have any queries about entry criteria, please contact Nigel Kelleher (programme lead).

Course overview

Across the 14 month course, you’ll be taught by a team of qualified and registered social workers. Contributors to the programme also include people who have direct experience of services, experienced and expert practitioners, those with lived experience and carers, senior managers and policy makers.

Academic-based learning will be delivered through lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops. The course incorporates a minimum of 200 days of practice-based learning, including at least 170 days spent on placements and an additional 30 skills development days on campus. These skills development days are a professional/regulatory body training requirement which must be completed in order to successfully complete the course.

Our course is approved by Social Work England and is underpinned by Social Work England’s professional standards and standards for social work education and training. It draws on the British Association of Social Work’s Code of Ethics and other key frameworks for professional practice. Successful completion of the course makes you eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England as a qualified social worker. Registration is necessary in order to practice as a social worker.

Social Work England (SWE) course approval


All placements are organised by the local authority who has offered you a place on the Step Up to Social Work programme and monitored by the University, with both academic work and practice placements contributing to the overall outcome of your studies. Consequently, all placements will be within the geographical footprint of the local authorities who are members of the Learn Together Partnership.

You will be allocated a Practice Educator (PE) who is a qualified and registered social worker, with an additional qualification in practice learning, to support you whilst in practice. You will be responsible for any costs relating to parking and travel between placement and where you live, and but the local authority hosting your placement will reimburse you for any relevant travel expenses for practice related activity while at placement.


Our postgraduate diploma in social work utilises a wide range of assessment methods which emulate or focus on the demands of real-life practice. These include writing essays and reports, delivering presentations, working in small groups/teams, preparing a portfolio of evidence, completing assessment documents, engaging in role plays and sitting exams. Appropriately registered and qualified professionals, in conjunction with University staff, assess your practice learning.

Course changes

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information; however our courses 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 professional 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.

Get in touch

For any queries about the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (Step up to Social Work) programme, please contact our programme lead, Nigel Kelleher.