Applied Studies (Child Welfare and Protection)

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma


A part-time, flexible course from a leading Scottish child protection hub aimed at experienced professionals involved in child welfare and safety who are seeking to improve and develop practice. This course responds to the recent review of National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland and recognises the need for an integrated response to child welfare and protection. By studying the latest theory and best practice in child welfare and protection, you will be able to make improvements to your own practice. For example, you will be encouraged to use what you have learned to develop strategies that promote better outcomes in cases of abuse and neglect. The University of Stirling hosts Scotland’s national child protection agency, WithScotland, and as such is a centre for expertise in this critical field.


Key information

  • Degree type: MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Part-time, Campus based
  • Duration: 30 months
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Veronica Collins
View fees and finance

Course objectives

This course is a post-qualifying award designed to support experienced professional staff in developing advanced knowledge, skills and understanding of child welfare and protection

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Entry requirements

Academic 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.

Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can not accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.


2016/17 Overseas PG Cert - £4,150 PG Dip - £8,300 MSc - £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU PG Cert - £2,033 PG Dip - £4,066 MSc - £6,100
2015/16 Overseas PG Cert - £3,965 PG Dip - £7,930 MSc - £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU PG Cert - £2,000 PG Dip - £4,000 MSc - £6,000


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.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Scholarship finder

Scholarships & funding

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


Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

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.

Students who have previously studied Child Welfare and Protection to Graduate level and who wish to further their studies towards Master's can undertake a Professional Portfolio which together with RPL recognition of 30 credits at level 10 from their previous study will allow entry in to Year 2. The Professional Portfolio is studied over six months and requires students to attend University three days during this period. For more information about the Professional Portfolio please contact Veronica Collins (Course Director) or

The curriculum covers:

Year 1

  • Understanding children’s needs: context and frameworks (20 credits)
    In this module, students are oriented to the course, study resources and the historical, political and theoretical background to the current context for child welfare and protection. Direct teaching by experienced practitioner academics covers essential learning in areas of child development and parenting capacity. Law tutors provide direct teaching on key legislation.

  • Understanding Children’s Experiences: Assessment and Decision-making  (20 credits)
    Assessment of risk and need have received significant attention in practice and academia in recent years. Set within an ecological framework this module helps students make sense of current assessment models and practice by examining the components of accurate and empathic assessments of the impact of adversity on children and young people. Students will gain an improved understanding of the processes of analysis, judgement and decision making. Psychological, sociological and practice-specific research will be used to help students explore their own practice and consider how individual and agency practice can be further developed.

  • Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People (20 credits)
    This module focuses on multi-disciplinary plans to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. With a solution-focused approach and drawing on the concept of resilience the module will enhance and promote interventions that are focused on the needs of the children. Consideration of outcomes for children and young people will be at the heart of planning, implementation and review of care plans. The module will facilitate a better understanding of the student’s own role and the roles of others, including the wider community, within the widening agenda for child welfare and protection.

Year 2

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

From September 2014 students may alternatively complete a new course developed in partnership with NSPCC (Scotland). Please contact Veronica Collins (Course Director) or for details.

Year 3

From September to February students will complete a dissertation based on empirical research.


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

Students attend eight teaching days per semester which will comprise of lectures, seminars and workshops. Teaching is delivered over full days with a seminar approach and use of small group discussions and other participative activities which are linked to the lectures. Each of the modules is assessed by an assignment which is designed to test the student’s learning by application to practice.

Recommended reading

Comprehensive reading lists are provided for each module.

Modes of study

Direct teaching based on campus and supported by online learning using Succeed.

Study method


Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


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’.


Social Work CPD staff have researched and published widely in the area of child welfare and protection. University of Stirling Social Work CPD has an established reputation for post-qualifying awards in Child Welfare and Protection, Social Services Management and Adult Health and Social Care. Courses are flexible and responsive to the needs of professional staff working in demanding roles within frontline practice and management. We have strong links with employers across the public, voluntary and independent sectors in health and social services.

Our students

Students come from a range of professional backgrounds and geographical areas across Scotland. Students comment that the mix within the group considerably enhances learning. Most particularly, students comment on the relevance of the teaching to practice – it is challenging but worth it.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The course is designed to enhance the careers and practice of experienced professionals working in a number of child protection related fields, including social workers, health workers, police officers and teachers. Employers are increasingly seeking individuals with a specialist Master’s degree in child protection when seeking to appoint leaders in this key area.


Our students are already qualified professionals employed in health and/or social services; working either in the public sector or in third sector organisations. Post-qualifying awards provide an opportunity to build on existing skills and experience; to reflect on the challenges of practice in contemporary social services; and to develop enhanced capabilities as analytical practitioners. Students completing the full MSc will be “research minded” and will have completed empirical research. These skills will be directly applicable in practice.

Industry connections

We have close connections with agency representatives and employers who sponsor staff to undertake our post-qualifying awards. This helps to ensure that courses remain up-to-date and relevant to contemporary practice.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).

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