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Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work

Become a professionally qualified social worker

Become a professionally qualified social worker

18 months full-time
Bishop Otter Campus (Chichester)
  • Gain the necessary qualification to register as a social worker
  • Learn from experienced and qualified social workers
  • Study modules mapped to national standards to ensure course remains relevant to current practice
  • Receive targeted careers support to help you open future career opportunities in a variety of professional roles
22 Social Work Lessons 3

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Learn to work effectively with children, adults and a wide range of social problems

Our Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work course prepares you for a wide range of experiences and learning opportunities that you will encounter in practice. We welcome a range of students with varying backgrounds, whether you’re a college leaver or a mature student.

Gain the skills and knowledge needed for current practice

You will gain a combination of effective and relevant skills alongside up-to-date knowledge of how to work effectively with children, adults and a wide range of social problems.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work course begins with a carefully structured induction programme, before you move on to study modules designed to develop your personal and professional skills.

You will be supported throughout by a structured tutorial programme; linking university-based learning to practice placements.

Apply theory to practice on placements

Alongside your academic learning, you will apply theory to practice via placements with our local partners.

We have cultivated strong relationships with several local authorities, where you will learn apply your knowledge to real-world situations and a gain a vital insight into the professional life of a social worker.

Dedicated personal and academic support

Your tutors ensure that you have excellent academic and personal support throughout your degree, as you gain a firm grounding in the skills, professional theory, and values of the social work profession.

We have a long tradition of providing a supportive, student-centred approach to learning and teaching and we believe it is our role to help you develop both personally and professionally throughout your degree.

This has culminated in our excellent rating in the national student satisfaction survey that has underpinned our well-established reputation for teaching Social Work.

Register ready

This course is approved by social work regulator Social Work England.

By the end of the course you will be ready to register with Social Work England and begin your career as social work professional.

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On this course you will:

  • Learn from experienced and qualified social workers.
  • Gain your qualification from a university with a well-established reputation for teaching Social Work to degree level and beyond.
  • Receive targeted careers support to help you open future career opportunities in a variety of professional roles.
  • Gain credits towards a full MA in Social Work.

The Course

Prepare for the wide range of experiences and learning opportunities that you will encounter in practice

Our Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work course is designed to prepare you will the skills and knowledge to effectively transition in the challenging but rewarding social work sector.

The course will explore the complexities and intricacies of working within social work, as you learn to prepare for a variety of situations and dilemmas when working with both adults and children and their families.

You will underpin your theoretical learning with dedicated practical experience and assessment as you build the knowledge and confidence that you will need to progress through your career.

This list is indicative and subject to change.

Select a year

Introduction to Social Work

This module aims to introduce you to social work roles, tasks and settings, as well as provide you with a grounding in the historical and social context of social work practice.

In addition, you will explore a framework of theories, values, ethics and research mindedness as a foundation for good practice and study throughout the course.

Human Development and Psychology Across the Lifespan

An introduction to human growth and development, which will draw on developmental psychology as well as the social context of development. It will also explore difficulties in physiological, psychological and social development, including attachment theory, mental health and wellbeing. It will consider cultural and gender perspectives in relation to development. the effects of social problems on development and socialisation will also be critically examined.

Social Work Law and Social Policy

This module seeks to explore primary, secondary and tertiary legislation, case law and social policy which has relevance to social welfare. It seeks to equip you with a critical understanding of how to apply legislation, case law and policy in practice. It will enable you to link legal and policy frameworks, anti-oppressive practice and social justice.

Practice, Research and Dissertation Skills

This module aims to build on your basic communication and relationship skills in order to prepare you for social work practice. It will enable you to develop an understanding of the wider community in which social work takes place. There will be opportunities to introduce you to the perspectives of service users, carers, and the organisations with which social workers liaise and operate.

Methods of Assessment, Intervention, Risk, and Safeguarding

This module aims to explore the nature of evidence and knowledge-based practice in relation to methods appropriate to risk and safeguarding. It will enable you to develop an understanding of the implicit and explicit ethical and value base underlying such interventions and approaches.

Values, Dilemmas and Conflicts in Social Work Practice

Social work tasks and responsibilities require an understanding of complex situations which are likely to need high-level professional skills. This module will enable you to develop evidence-based knowledge on the multi-faceted factors likely to impact individual interpretation and understanding of dilemmas and conflicts in social work practice.

Assessed Practice 1 (70 Day Practice Placement)

There will be a range of activities to help you develop skills in critical reflection in relation to your social work practice and be able to apply appropriate social work skills and methods in practice. You will be supported to demonstrate skills in synthesising information and reflecting critically on social work knowledge.

Reflection, Analysis and Decision Making with Adults and Children

On successful completion of the MA Social Work you will reflect on your practice to meet the aims of the threshold requirements for entry into the profession as a registered social worker.

Assessed Practice 2 (100 Day Practice Placement)

At the point of qualification, you are expected to have developed analytical techniques and problem-solving skills and to be able to demonstrate personal responsibility and decision making in complex and unpredictable professional situations.

Linked Tutorial Programme (Year 2)

Academic tutors will focus on your academic and professional development, provide pastoral care, support the link between theory and social work practice and enable you to understand service user and carer perspectives.


Discover facilities that help support your learning

Our Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work course is located on the historic Bishop Otter campus in Chichester, which has a variety of facilities to allow you to get the best out of your time at university.

Teaching and Assessment

Receive the support of dedicated and experienced social work professionals

On our Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work course, you will get to experience a mix of teaching strategies to make sure that you are building the knowledge and confidence you need to progress in this career.

Receive the support of our tutors

Your personal tutor will support you throughout your time on the course.

We have a team of experienced professionals who work together to give you the best experience while at university.

You’ll get to know the team, and we will get to know you personally. We pride ourselves on our student support and our commitment to your learning.

You will learn in lectures, in small groups and in practice placements where you will receive personalised support and guidance.


We use written assignments, group work, workshops, feedback, meetings and placements to develop your skills.

The practice elements of the course are assessed through portfolio presentation and assessor reports.

There are support sessions for particular assessments and a dedicated online platform for study skills to help support your written academic skills.

Qualification outcomes

The programme has two possible levels of outcome:

  • Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert): The Postgraduate Certificate lasts for approximately twelve months. Completion of a set number of academic credits will enable the award of Postgraduate Certificate.
  • Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip): The Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work lasts for a period of between 12 and 24 months. The award of the Postgraduate Diploma is conditional on the achievement of academic credits at Master’s level (FHEQ Level 7).

Work Placements

Gain vital experience within the social work sector

We have developed strong working relationships with local authorities across the south of England where you will gain the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of working within the social work profession.

You will have the opportunity to carry out key social work roles within practice placements totalling 170 days.

70-day placement

For the first (70-day) placement in your second year, you could gain experience in organisations such as West Sussex and Hampshire County Councils, Homestart, Stonepillow, Aldingbourne Trust, Barnardos and Citizens Advice.

We also have opportunities in schools who have units for pupils with additional needs. These include Front Lawn Primary and Felpham Community College.

There are similar opportunities in hospital teams and other support organisations such as Motiv8, My Sister House, Cornerhouse Mental Health Resource Centre and Change, Grow, Live.

100-day placement

The second (100-day) placement in your third year include local authorities like West Sussex and Hampshire County Council within teams such as family support and protection, looked after children, fostering, disabilities, older persons, youth offending, children’s asylum, and mental health.


Take the first steps to becoming a registered social work professional

Our MA Social Work course is accredited by the national social work regulator: Social Work England.

This means that graduates will be able to register with Social Work England as a qualified social worker (NQSW).

Our close relationships with our social work placement partners often result in our graduates continuing into Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) or NQSW roles with those local authorities.

Our partners are invited to talk to our students throughout your degree, meaning you will be able to network whilst still learning, putting you one step ahead of the competition.

Further study

You may also choose to develop your knowledge and practice further through our postgraduate options.

Some of our graduates also choose to move into teaching and we offer multiple postgraduate options to move into the education sector.

Postgraduate pathways

  • MA Advanced Professional Practice
  • PGCEs
  • Postgraduate research
  • Certificate in Councilling

Student View

"Speaking from the heart, the course would have to be described as life changing"


Social Work graduate
"The course is driven by a warm and experience team, with an abundance of lived and worked experience in their specific fields. In addition, their creativity towards the subjects we are learning is hugely stimulating and challenging. The lecturers are always open with their suggestions and there has never been a moment when they are not there to give support and advice for those difficult times. Not to forget the advantage of a truly approachable administration team who are an integral part of the department, and knowing there are always available with additional support for all those other challenges is vastly reassuring. Speaking from the heart, the course would have to be described as life changing and an essential component towards gaining a greater understanding and compassion in relation to our own communities and fellow human beings."


Social Work graduate
"Chichester University has offered me such a positive experience of completing my Degree in Social Work. I have felt incredibly supported throughout my journey with the University, and feel privileged to have been taught, and guided by some of the most intellectual and knowledgeable individuals in the sector."


Social Work graduate
"I absolutely love studying here. I have made great friends because our lectures are small and intimate; I am not just a number and my lecturers all know my name and know me on a much personal level. They are always available to help me when I have concerns and the course work is easy to understand and easily accessible. As the university is quite small I never get lost and my lecture rooms are easy to find. All the professionals are friendly and helpful with whatever concerns I have. The town itself is beautiful and there are many shops, pubs and restaurants to go to and Chichester is close to other major towns that have a more hectic night life and clubbing community. Chichester is also close to the sea which is great in summer. I have no regrets and I actually look forward to lectures and course work."

Course Costs

Course fees 2022/23

UK fee
International fee

For further details about fees, please see our Tuition Fees page.

For further details about international scholarships, please see our Scholarships page.

To find out about any additional costs on this course, please see our Additional Costs page.

University of Chichester alumni who have completed a full undergraduate degree at the University will receive a 15% discount on their postgraduate fees.

Course specific costs

You will be required to have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check costing £40 which needs to be paid for before the start of the course.

Entry Requirements

Honours degree
or higher in a related discipline, normally in a social science subject.
tariff points.
A Levels
Cambridge Technical
Access to HE Diploma
Pass with at least 12 Distinctions and 15 Merits.
or above in English Language.
26-28 points
7.0 overall

DBS Check

Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work applicants are required to have an enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check which needs to be paid for before the start of the course.

We strongly suggest that all students sign up for the Disclosure and Barring Service update service for which there is a small annual charge, this makes the DBS portable both during and after the degree.

Failure to sign up for the update service might require the student to gain a further enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check which will incur additional costs.


The interview is designed to assess the applicant’s suitability for the social work profession.

It is expected that most students will have significant experience of a statutory care agency or voluntary/private organisation providing a social work or social care service.

Social work experience

We typically expect our prospective students to have social work or social care experience of up to six months or equivalent part-time (paid or voluntary).

A satisfactory occupational health assessment is required.

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