Applied Studies (Child Welfare and Protection)

Study Child Welfare and Protection and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma

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Applied Studies (Child Welfare and Protection)
  • Type Part-time
  • Start date September

Veronica Collins Applied Social Science
University of Stirling
FK9 4LA.
+44 (0) 1786 467721

This course provides flexible learning opportunities for experienced professionals to develop advanced levels of professional practice in work with (or on behalf of) vulnerable children, young people and their families.

Course objectives

The course provides learning opportunities for experienced professionals to develop advanced levels of professional practice in work with (or on behalf of) vulnerable children, young people and their families. It establishes a knowledge foundation of key theoretical and practice frameworks which will be used to build critical engagement with a range of contemporary practice themes in inter-professional work to better understand the impact of abuse and neglect and to develop effective strategies to promote better outcomes.

Students will acquire a critical understanding of the theory and practice of child welfare and protection within a contemporary Scottish context. Contemporary national and international research and literature will inform your understanding and you will develop a critical and reflective understanding of the complex personal, professional, structural and organisational influences which impact on analysis, planning and evaluation in this critical area.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Students must be working in or have experience of working in a child welfare and protection context.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum  IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

This part-time, modular course is delivered over two and a half years for the full MSc award. The period of study is shorter for Postgraduate Certificate and PG Diploma options.

Course start date


Structure and content

The course is part-time and modular, comprising six taught modules with related study and practice assignments. Successful completion of 60 credits can lead to a Postgraduate Certificate, and 120 credits to a Postgraduate Diploma. Candidates for the Master’s degree additionally undertake a dissertation (60 credits), based on an empirical study which is submitted after completion of the taught modules.

The curriculum covers:

  • Current issues and debates in child welfare and protection (30 credits):  Explores the theory and application to practice of sociological approaches to childhood and the social construction of childhood and of abuse. This module will also consider current issues for practice within the contemporary Scottish context and comparative international models and approaches. A major focus of this module will be on current debates which underpin understandings about what harms children and how adversity impacts on the development of the child
  • Developing practitioner and organisational capacity (30 credits):  Explores current debates in theoretical approaches to, and models of, assessment and theory which informs practice in working toward change. Consideration will be given to the development of critical thinking skills and the development of reflective and reflexive practitioners. There will be an exploration of the organisational context of your work with consideration of the impact of organisational culture and structure, and the management of change within organisations
  • Risk and decision making (15 credits): Explores theoretical frameworks for understanding and working with risk. Students will consider how risk is managed in their own organisations and explore current debates about the political and social context of risk and risk aversion and consider the impact in practice. You will be encouraged to explore contemporary literature and research which seeks to learn from past experience
  • Collaborative practice (15 credits): Helps you to apply organisation theory, consider the impact of organisational culture on service delivery, and explore the challenges and opportunities of collaborative practice
  • Evidence informed practice and evaluation (15 credits) and research methods and application (15 credits):  Prepares you to become more research ‘minded’. Students will explore the nature of evidence and develop a critical approach to the understanding of research and data collection.  These two modules will provide a foundation for the undertaking of your dissertation.


This course is delivered by staff in the Social Work Section of the School of Applied Social Science. This is a large interdisciplinary unit, combining teaching and research interests in sociology, social policy and criminology, social work, dementia and housing studies and a number of specialist centres. It has a strong research and academic reputation in all these areas.

Delivery and assessment

Each semester will involve the equivalent of eight teaching days at the University. These are spread over four months, September to December and then repeated January to May. The teaching day consists of seminar presentations, group discussion and small group work. Academic and practice assignments and presentations form the assessment for each module, the practice being drawn from your employment.

Recommended reading

Comprehensive reading lists are provided for each module.

Course Director

Veronica Collins

RAE rating

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 95 percent of the research in Applied Social Science was ‘Internationally Excellent’ with the top 10 percent of that judged to be ‘World-leading’.

Career opportunities

Successful attainment of a Master’s qualification in Child Welfare and Protection is likely to enhance participants’ future career opportunities. Organisations view study at Master’s level as being a requirement for potential leaders in this critical area of work.


2014/15OverseasPG Cert - £4,725 PG Dip - £9,450 MSc - £11,500
2014/15Home/EUPG Cert - £2,100 PG Dip - £4,200 MSc - £5,500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


Participants will be either self-funding or will have sought funding from their employer.

Information on possible sources of funding