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The Mental Capacity Act (2005)

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The Mental Capacity Act 2005 in Practice (previously known as "Best Interest Assessors") introduced a statutory framework for decision making processes for persons over the age of 16 who are incapable of making decisions for themselves.

A best interests assessment is a process to consider authorisation of deprivation of liberty for individuals who do not have mental capacity to make decisions about their own care. Statutory organisations need to ensure that they have a group of staff members who are qualified to undertake the statutory role of Best Interest Assessor (BIA).

Bournemouth University has been approved by the Department of Health to provide this programme. During this unit, you will be able to develop your existing professional knowledge and skills within new legislative and ethical frameworks in order to carry out this statutory safeguarding role.

This unit is available at Level 6 or 7.

See more course details.

Key information

Next start date:

No dates for this unit are currently scheduled. Please enquire for more information.


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus, or at a location negotiated with your employer


Five days

Entry requirements:

This course is for registered social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and chartered or registered psychologists.

Course details

The Best Interest Assessor (BIA) module will be delivered as a series of workshops. In addition, you will be required to undertake self-managed learning, based on support materials provided by Bournemouth University.

During the unit, you will study: 

  • Unit 1: Mental Capacity Act 2005 in Practice (2 taught days)
  • Unit 2: Professional Use of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) (3 taught days).

Candidates who complete unit 1 will be awarded 20 credits at either level 6 or 7.

Candidates who complete both units of this programme will be awarded 40 level 6 or 7 credits and will be eligible for appointment as Best Interests Assessor. You must complete both units at the same level.

Please be aware there is now a requirement to 'shadow' a qualified BIA undertaking an assessment under the DoLS framework (unit 2 assessment). Therefore please ensure you have this in place before applying for the programme.


During the unit, your assessed work will comprise a portfolio of tasks which will include: 

  • A professional development review
  • A practice analysis
  • Third-party testimony.

Entry requirements

You must be from one of the following professional groups:

  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Chartered or registered psychologists.

You must be registered with your professional registration body and you must have a minimum of two years post qualification experience. Knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is also required.

Normally students may enter Level 6 study if they have been awarded:

  • An Advanced Diploma, HND, Dip HE or Foundation Degree (awarded by a UK HEI or Edexcel or SQA)
  • An equivalent qualification (the learning outcome of which are demonstrably appropriate in terms of knowledge, understanding and skills) equivalent to 120 credits at Level 5.

If you do not meet this criteria you are still able to apply for this unit but we may ask you to complete a study skills handbook to familiarise yourself with academic writing at Master's degree level. The study skills handbook will be sent to you when we have received your application form.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements, for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our international entry requirements page.

Fees and funding

This fee is a reduced Employer Scholarship Scheme rate, in recognition that employers are working with financial constraints, therefore limiting the impact of rising fees on professional development. Self-funders may also be eligible for this discounted Employer Scholarship Scheme fee price.

For individuals

You will need to pay or indicate employer support of payment for unit or course fees to the university.

Applicants working within the NHS or other healthcare providers may be eligible for support with funding from their employer through the Learning Beyond Registration contract with the NHS South of England.

Applicants should contact their employing organisation for further details.

Information if you are self-funding

If you are funding the course or unit yourself or your employer is sponsoring you outside a contractual agreement, you will need to apply directly to the university.

Once you have been accepted onto a unit or course, you will be sent a payment form which must be completed and returned on or before enrolment. The form requires that payment be made in one of three ways:

  • By cheque for the full amount made payable to ‘Bournemouth University’
  • By giving details of a credit or debit card
  • By invoice to your employer or other sponsoring organisation.

Full details of the invoicing address and the name, signature and position of an authorised person must be provided. Please note that invoices cannot be raised for you if you are paying the fees.

It is possible for you to pay your fees in installments and fees must be paid either by credit or debit card.

For employers

The fee listed against this unit is the Employers Scholarship rate. However, we may be able to negotiate fees for large volume bookings.

Pre-purchased places

The Faculty of Health & Social Sciences has contractual arrangements with NHS organisations for pre-paid places on specified modules including NHS South of England. If you work within Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight you may be able to access the pre-paid places. These arrangements allow NHS Trusts to nominate the staff they wish to send on each unit or course.

The pre-arranged agreements allow individuals, such as yourself, a route to access appropriate professional development opportunities that are seen as strategically important to your organisation (in consultation with your Line Manager/Education Co-ordinator). Applications for these places are dealt with through your Line Manager/Education Co-ordinator and they will arrange for you to complete the relevant paperwork and application form. All application forms for pre-paid places must be signed by your organisation’s Education Lead.


Our CPD unit fees have already been discounted based on our Employers’ Scholarship Scheme, as such these units are not eligible for the Early payment discount and BU graduate discount.   

How to apply

We offer a single point of contact for all questions and enquiries regarding Post Qualifying Social Work courses. Please contact the administration team - Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work:

Please note: If your fees are to be paid by your employer you should submit your application via your Workforce Development Officer; in order that your employer can sign the sponsor section of the payment agreement.This must take place before you can be enrolled. If you are paying your own fees you should submit your application directly to the PQSW Administration Team.

Career development

We have a range of individual units at Levels 5, 6 and 7 available which you can choose from to develop your skills in a specific area of practice. If you take further units of study you can begin to build your own qualification and gain an academic award for your work, depending on your level of study this may be:

  • BSc/ BSc (Hons) Professional Practice (level 5/6)
    If you have a Diploma or Advanced Diploma you can take this course to top-up to a full degree
  • MA Advanced Practice (level 7)
    If you have an honours degree and are aspiring to be an advanced practitioner, this route enables you to work towards a Master's degree award. Depending on how many level 7 units you complete, you can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Practice.

These options provide a flexible route to gaining a bachelor’s or Master’s degree by studying in more manageable ‘bite-sized’ chunks.

Additional information

Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Learn how the education, research and professional practice delivered in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences make people's lives better.

Statistics shown throughout this page are taken from Unistats and BU institutional data unless otherwise stated.