MSc Applied Professional Studies

Boost your career with our flexible Masters degree in Applied Professional Studies. Take an individual course of study or follow one of the specialist pathways.

Applied Professional Studies

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2021, January 2022, September 2022, January 2023
  • Duration MSc part-time: 36 months (flexible)
  • Mode of study Part-time, Stand-alone modules, Mixture of online and classroom delivery


Scottish Social Services Council

The Scottish Social Services Council accreditation

Designed for those who are already qualified in social work or an allied profession, our Applied Professional Studies course enables you to undertake additional, part-time professional study.

The course gives you the opportunity to develop knowledge specific to your role and setting. At Stirling, we are at the forefront of contemporary practice and thinking. Some relevant modules are recognised by organisations such as the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).  The running of a specific pathway or standalone module in any given year will depend upon demand. 


You can work towards our core Masters degree, the MSc Applied Professional Studies, or opt to specialise in one of the following pathways of study:

  • Child Welfare and Protection
  • Management and Leadership in Social Services
  • Adult Services, Support and Protection
  • Advanced Practice Skills in Child Welfare and Protection
  • Social Work Practice Education

Whether you work towards the core Masters or follow a pathway, you’ll find yourself studying under the guidance of an established and trusted teaching team. So wherever you’re hoping your career will lead, we can help you get there.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

This course is a post-qualifying award designed to support experienced professionals in developing advanced knowledge and skills.


Our academic staff are qualified social workers with a wealth of experience and commitment to the highest standards in teaching and research.


We have strong partnerships with professional agencies, ensuring that the course always reflects up-to-date research, theory and responses to contemporary practice issues.


Follow different routes of study and work towards a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters qualification.


Part-time options give you the opportunity to fit study around your personal and professional commitments. 

Choose from five course pathways

You’re free to choose whether you want to work towards a core Masters qualification or follow a specialist pathway. These pathways consist of a selected range of modules drawn from the core MSc programme, and are designed to build your expertise in a specific aspect of social care. The pathways include:

Child Welfare and Protection

This pathway is most suitable if you’re already working in child welfare and protection, in areas such as social work, health, education or the police. The course builds professional knowledge and competence through:

  • consideration of key frameworks (such as attachment theory and resilience);
  • critical reflection on multi-professional judgement and decision-making; and
  • examination of the latest research and practice developments in care planning and intervention.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Management and Leadership in Social Services

This pathway is recognised by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as an appropriate qualification for registered managers. Participants on the course may come from a health, social work, education, occupational therapy or housing background and may be working in residential, day services or fieldwork settings. 

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Adult Services, Support and Protection

This pathway is designed to develop your theoretical, ethical and practical understanding of support and protection practice and wider service delivery. It is suitable for anyone who works within adult social care services or who works in public protection. It takes into account the challenges of changing laws, policies and service structures, and helps you to refresh your framework for thinking about supporting and protecting people as you engage with leading researchers and practice experts.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Advanced Practice Skills in Child Welfare and Protection

Developed in partnership with the NSPCC and a range of experts from across Scotland, this programme has been introduced to help you develop advanced skills in child welfare and protection practice with children and families. Unlike most other postgraduate courses in the field, this course has an emphasis on developing practical skills for direct work with children and young people, and you’ll gain knowledge, skills and experience for working within the most challenging settings. It is usually undertaken in the second year after completion of the Child Welfare and Protection certificate but other comparable qualifications are also recognised as meeting the entry requirements. 

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Social Work Practice Education

This pathway promotes analytical and reflective practice and aims to equip Practice Educators and, in turn, students for effective practice in complex contemporary social work environments. The course is positioned within the MSc Applied Professional Studies structure and applicants need to be registered social workers. You can choose to combine this award with other postgraduate level study in order to achieve the MSc Applied Professional Studies.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Find out more about each pathway and view videos by programme staff

Professional accreditation

Our pathway for Management and Leadership in Social Services is recognised and accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council.

Flexible learning

You can undertake another full pathway in second year or create your own portfolio of studies by selecting faculty modules on substance use, criminal justice and dementia. Additionally, staff deliver a critical inquiry module that supports you to deepen your knowledge of an aspect of your work and consider how to improve practice and service delivery.

You can opt to take time out and return to complete your PG Diploma and Masters award as long as you return within five years. You can also intially undertake just one module and receive university credit as opposed to undertaking a full Certificate.

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

When you study Applied Professional Studies at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to pioneering empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.

Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2014 – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, highlights included:

  • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading
  • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
  • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world leading or internationally excellent
  • we were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK

Changes at Stirling

Find out about important changes including how you'll be taught, start dates and how we're making campus safer.

Which course would you like to apply for?

MSc Applied Professional Studies

Search for another course