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PG Dip/MA Social Work (Children and Families)

This fast-track social work course, with a focus on children, young people and their families, will enable trainee social workers to build upon their existing knowledge and skills, and develop the expertise required for social work practice. The course is a generic social work qualification covering all aspects of child and family social work and working with adults required for graduates to be eligible for registering with Social Work England as a Social Worker.

The Department of Education funds this course through a cluster of local authorities which includes Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council and Wiltshire Council, with all applications being made directly to them. You’ll have the option to continue your studies from a Postgraduate Diploma to a Master’s by undertaking a dissertation which will be self-funded.

This course gives you the opportunity to study in a high-profile and nationally recognised department and benefit from direct access to research active and internationally linked academic staff. If you already hold an undergraduate degree and are interested in specialising in work with children and young people, this is the ideal social work course option.

Applications for Step Up to Social Work are currently closed. The Step Up to Social Work programme accepts applications every 2 years. If we confirm another cohort of the programme, the next application round would open in early 2021, for training to start in 2022. Please keep checking the programme's website for further updates.

“This course was perfect for me because I could complete it within 14 months and the financial support took a great weight off my mind. I loved every second of the course and found the knowledge and experience of my teachers and my cohort invaluable.”

Lou Oliver, graduate

See Course details for more information, including how this course will be delivered safely in autumn 2020 in response to Covid-19.

Key information

Next start date:



Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


14 months to complete the PG Dip

Entry requirements:

Applicants must have one of the following in any discipline except social work from a UK higher education institution (or an approved overseas equivalent):

  • a minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification, for example, a degree with honours or a graduate certificate
  • a minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a higher degree (level 7 or above), for example, a Master's degree or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education

​Applicants must also:

  • have GCSEs in English or English language and mathematics at grade C or above (or approved equivalent)
  • have a minimum of 6 months experience of voluntary or paid work with children, young people or families
  • ​live in England

Course details

This course is an intensive full-time training programme that could see you start a career as a social worker in just 14 months, whilst receiving a Department for Education bursary in addition to course fees.

Although this qualification is in Children and Families Social Work, it qualifies as a generic social work qualification. On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students.

Applicants for this course should apply directly to the Department for Education via their website. Candidates will then be jointly interviewed by local authority representatives and the University.

Download the programme specification (pdf 467kb)


As part of the course, you’ll undertake two separate work placements of a combined total of 170 days. This will help you gain invaluable hands-on experience of social work, but it is also essential to meet the regulatory requirements of the professional body. During the placement you will be expected to integrate theory and practice and to complete a practice learning portfolio. The practice learning placement will facilitate the development of your social work skills, knowledge, critical analysis and evidence-based application of knowledge.

The wide range of placements include social work teams delivering services to children and families, hospital social work teams, residential and day care settings, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, supported housing and homelessness schemes and projects for young people experiencing home and school difficulties.

Your application

Applicants for this course should apply directly to the Department for Education via their website. Candidates will then be jointly interviewed by local authority representatives and the University.

For Social Work, we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have an awareness of the role of a Social Worker within society
  • Have a non-judgemental attitude, an appreciation of diversity and self-awareness, flexibility and openness to new ideas
  • Can demonstrate relevant skills such as listening, negotiating and advocacy
  • Have life experiences which may have influenced the applicant to think about a career in social work.

Entry requirements


Employment opportunities include work within Local Authorities' Children and Families teams and all aspects of social work with children, young people and their families.

Course changes

What our students say

Pennie Pinder

All the academics have been very supportive throughout my course and provide detailed feedback on assignments so that you can always improve.

Hear from our staff

Richard Williams

Social Work is not a discipline for the faint-hearted and our students develop personally and professionally; they embrace the learning opportunities and the challenges these opportunities provide and the outcome is high quality practitioners.

Hear from our staff

Jennifer Bigmore

The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work offers a flexible approach to CPD, ensuring that you have the high quality knowledge and skills needed to face the future.

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