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
  • Duration MSc part-time: 36 months (flexible)
  • Mode of study Part-time, Campus based, 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. Relevant modules are recognised by organisations such as the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).


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
  • 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

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. Some modules are delivered at local teaching venues to increase accessibility.

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
  • examination of the latest research and practice developments in care planning and intervention

Each of the three modules on the course is delivered over seven days through a blend of direct teaching and structured learning activities.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Management and Leadership in Social Services

A flexible study pathway 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. The modules involve direct teaching days which include:

  • group discussions and activities
  • structured learning sessions for independent study
  • action learning sets

There are extensive online learning materials to complement the teaching sessions and to support collaborative learning.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Adult Services, Support and Protection

Our Adult Services, Support and Protection pathway is designed to develop your theoretical, ethical and practical understanding of how adult support is delivered. It takes into account the challenges of changing laws, policies and service structures, and helps you to refresh your framework for thinking about adult services as you engage with leading researchers and practice experts.

Award: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate

Advanced Practice Skills in Child Welfare and Protection

Delivered by representatives of the University of Stirling, the NSPCC and a range of experts from across Scotland, this fully accredited 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 gaining practical skills and experience, and you’ll gain knowledge, skills and experience for working within the most challenging settings.

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. 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

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

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.

When you study Applied Professional Studies at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge 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 Excellent 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.

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