Applied Studies (Management and Leadership in Social Services)

Study Applied Studies (Management and Leadership in Social Services) and graduate with a university degree

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc

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Applied Studies (Management and Leadership in Social Services)
  • Type Part-time
  • Duration 30 Months
  • Start date September

Veronica Collins University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467721

In Scotland, the Changing Lives, 21st-Century Social Work Review (Scottish Executive, 2006) has highlighted the need for enabling leadership and effective management at all levels within the social care sector.

The University of Stirling offers flexible options for social services managers from across the public, voluntary and independent sectors to pursue their professional development and gain management qualifications directly relevant to their work.


The MSc/PG Diploma and PG Certificate Applied Studies (Management and Leadership in Social Services) is recognised by the Scottish Social Services Council as an appropriate award for registered managers in social services.

Course objectives

The course allows you as a social services manager to build on your professional experience by undertaking study in a range of management subjects. Successful completion of the course enables you to:

  • Acquire a critical understanding of the theory and practice of management as it relates to contemporary social services
  • Develop your knowledge on how organisations function and how, as a manager, you might bring your influence to bear on organisational processes
  • Re-examine the value base of social services’ work and how this is applied in a management role
  • Broaden your understanding of the personal social services through comparative study

Management and Leadership in Social Services is a part-time course for staff in management positions within social care organisations across the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors.

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 a minimum of two years' experience of working within a management role within a social services 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 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 Postgraduate 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 based on an empirical study, submitted after completion of the taught modules. The modules you will study are:

  • Managing in the Context of a Social Services Agency (30 credits): Identifies current trends and developments in contemporary social work, the fiscal arrangements for social work, best value and value for money in social work, reviews the manager’s role and accountability, and considers Scottish and UK social services in the international context
  • Managing and Supervising Staff (15 credits): Applies leadership theories and management style analysis to your own work, identifies management tasks in relation to ethical issues and anti-oppressive practice, applies employment legislation and policy, analyses methods for the recruitment and selection of staff, monitors the effectiveness of staff appraisal, training and development programmes, and building and managing effective teams
  • 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
  • Managing Change and Innovation (30 credits): Helps you to apply theories of change management in your organisational context, plan, implement and evaluate innovation, analyse effective leadership strategies for managing change and transition, and explore meaningful ways of strengthening service user and carer involvement in service planning and evaluation
  • Evidence Informed Practice and Evaluation (15 credits) and Research Methods and Application (15 credits): Prepares you to become more 'research minded’. You 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

Students who have previously studied Management in Social Services to Graduate level and who wish to further their studies towards Masters 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


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 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 with attendance at University on two consecutive days per month, September to December and January to May. The teaching day consists of seminar presentations, group discussion and small group work. The course makes substantial use of the management experience you as students bring with you and your daily work provides the evidence of practice competence as a manager that is integral to assessment for the academic award. This course is delivered by staff in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) team within the Social Work Section of the School of Applied Social Science.

On this course you share your learning with international students registered for the MSc Applied Studies (Management of Social Welfare Organisations) and for three of the six modules you will be joined by students studying across a range of Applied Studies courses with a focus on social service provision. Joint teaching works to the advantage of all students by promoting challenge, diversity and exploration of assumptions and ways of working. Academic and management practice assignments form the assessment for each module, the practice being drawn from your employment.

Recommended reading

Comprehensive reading lists are provided for each module.

Module titles

Year 1

  • Managing In the Context of a Social Services Agency
  • Managing and Supervising Staff
  • Evidence Informed Practice and Evaluation

Year 2

  • Collaborative Practice
  • Research Methods and Application
  • Managing Change and Innovation

Year 3: From September to February students will complete the dissertation

Course Director

Veronica Collins


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.

More information

RAE rating

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

Career opportunities

Successful attainment of a social services management qualification has been seen to enhance participants’ future career opportunities. During the course and on its completion candidates have experienced the benefits of undertaking Advanced level study by securing promotion or moving into strategic planning or senior management posts.


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 managing in contemporary social services; and to develop enhanced capabilities for effective leadership of individual staff and teams and 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 programmes remain up-to-date and relevant to contemporary practice. Our Certificate is mapped against the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Care Services and formally approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).


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 - £3,967 PG Dip - £7,933 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.


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