Applied Professional Studies

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, University Certificate

The University of Stirling is ranked joint-1st in the UK for Social Work (The National Student Survey 2017).


This part-time, flexible course is for post-qualifying Social Work professional study. The MSc programme accommodates a range of modules to allow students to build credit towards either a “generic” Masters qualification (MSc in Applied Professional Studies) or a range of specialist qualifications by following prescribed pathways of study.


Logo for the Scottish Social Services CouncilOur qualifications are recognised and accredited by organisations such as Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). By mainlining strong links with key stakeholders we ensure that our programmes anticipate learning needs in the workforce and that we are at the forefront of contemporary practice and thinking. 

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, University Certificate
  • Study methods: Mixture of online and classroom delivery
  • Duration: This programme is flexible so durations are for guidance PG/UG Cert: 12 months, PG Diploma: 24 months, MSC: 30 months
  • Start date:

    Both Spring and Autumn start dates are available.

  • Course Director: Duncan Helm
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download course leaflet
Download postgraduate prospectus

Duncan Helm

Faculty of Social Sciences
Colin Bell Building
University of Stirling
Scotland UK


  1. Reputation – The University of Stirling is joint-1st in the UK for Social Work Studies (The National Student Survey 2017).
  2. Quality – Our academic staff are qualified social workers with a wealth of experience and commitment to the highest standards in teaching and research.
  3. Currency – We have strong partnerships with professional agencies, ensuring that our programmes continue to reflect up-to-date research, theory and responses to contemporary practice issues.
  4. Value – we provide pathways to build credit from modules towards exit awards at Certificate, Diploma or Masters-level
  5. Accessibility – Part-time study, utilising a blended approach of direct teaching and guided study, gives you the opportunity to gain a qualification whilst maintaining your personal and professional life.



Study pathways include:

Child Welfare and Protection

(MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate)

Safeguarding their future

This is a post-qualifying course for staff working in child welfare and protection, including those in social work, health, education, the police and associated disciplines. With a focus on improving outcomes for children, this course tackles core challenges in practice including assessment, planning and effective practice. The course builds professional knowledge and competence sequentially through consideration of key frameworks (such as attachment theory and resilience), critical reflection on multi-professional judgement and decision-making, through to examination of the latest research and practice developments in care planning and intervention.

The Certificate consists of three 20 credit modules (Scottish Qualifications and Credit Framework) which are designed to be taken sequentially across one year of study. Each module is delivered over seven days through a blend of direct teaching and structured learning activities. Modules are structured to accommodate the pressures experienced by professionals combining adult learning with demanding workloads. Unique to this course, there is a final day in the timetable which provides students with the tools and opportunity to review their learning across the course. This review of learning is designed to facilitate embedding of learning in practice and to dovetail the learning outcomes from the course with the student’s ongoing professional development.

Management and Leadership in Social Services

(MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate)

A flexible programme of study recognised by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as an appropriate qualification for registered managers.

The programme is appropriate for frontline managers and supervisors working in diverse roles and specialisms. 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 and action learning sets. There are extensive online learning materials to complement the teaching sessions and to support collaborative learning.

Adult Support and Protection

(MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate)

Reflecting, developing and improving

Practitioners and managers are required to deliver support and protection services to a varied population, in imaginative ways and within a challenging wider context.

The pace of change in law, policy and service structures adds to this complexity.

Our courses offer a valuable space where health and social care practitioners and managers from across Scotland will:

  • Bring their knowledge around law and policy right up to date.
  • Explore and develop their theoretical, ethical and practical understanding of delivering individual support and contributing to service delivery
  • Engage with leading researchers and practice experts
  • Exchange and debate varying approaches to policy and practice with professionals from across Scotland
  • Reflect and refresh their own framework for thinking about adult services, support and protection that they can then share with their team and agency

Advanced Practice Skills in Child Welfare and Protection

(Postgraduate Certificate)

Every Childhood is worth fighting for

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 enable students to 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. In particular the course is designed to bridge an existing gap in practice skills development, and students will gain knowledge, skills and experience for working within the most challenging settings.

The syllabus will provide access to the latest insights, from experts in fieldwork and clinical practice across a range of settings, which inform contemporary practice in Scotland.

It will include a variety of innovative learning and assessment methods including videotaped role-play, extended case study work, peer review.

Introducing a more intensive model of skills validation for experienced practitioners, the course will encourage criticality and a culture of evidence informed practice and interventions, and approaches to self-evaluation.

Social Work Practice Education

(Postgraduate Certificate)

This is a new postgraduate level course for professionals who want to become Practice Educators with social work students on practice placements. It promotes analytical & 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 in Applied Professional Studies structure. Students can choose to combine this award with other postgraduate level study in order to achieve the MSc in Applied Professional Studies.

Course objectives

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

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

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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 relevant profession.

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.

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.

Flexible Learning

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

Application procedure

Applied Professional Studies PG Application Form and return by email or post:

Duncan HelmFaculty of Social Sciences
Colin Bell Building
University of Stirling
Scotland UK
+44 (0)1786

Fees and costs

Modular Fee

2017/18 Home/EU £1,378 per 40 credit module
2017/18 Home/EU £689 per 20 credit module
2017/18 Dissertation fee £2067*


2018/19 Home/EU £1,400 per 40 credit module
2018/19 Home/EU £700 per 20 credit module
2018/19 Dissertation fee £2100*


There is a discount of £500 for University of Stirling students who have successfully completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Professional Studies and continue to the MSc.

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

View the structure diagram (click to expand):

Structure diagram for Applied Professional Studies

Modules take a blended learning approach using contact teaching days, structured learning making use of the University’s online learning platform, and self-directed private study.

The student groups are small and the class room sessions are delivered in a seminar style with a mixture of PowerPoint presentations, small group work activity and a high level of interaction between presenter and students.

Classroom sessions are led by University academics and researchers who are actively involved in the social work field; and by external practice subject experts. Their contribution enhances the contemporary relevance of the teaching and brings a critical perspective to the topics covered. This exchange of practice and knowledge expertise is replicated between teaching days through structured learning tasks, online discussion boards and peer assessment.

The online learning platform provides a wide range of learning resources that act as a starting point for self- directed study. This programme encourages a high level of reflection on students’ own practice; and application of learning to their roles and responsibilities.

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 Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework:

  • 24% of our research was assessed as world leading
  • 75% of our research assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
  • 99% of research assessed as internationally recognised, excellent or world leading
  • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
  • 40% of our research impact was assessed as world leading – Read an impact case study
  • The work of more than 90% of our researchers was assessed
  • We ranked 17th in the UK and 3rd in Scotland for our research


  • Joint-1st in the UK for Social Work Studies (The National Student Survey 2017).

In 2015, the University was awarded 5 QS stars in the following areas: teaching, employability, internationalisation, facilities and inclusiveness. 

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Our staff

"The MSc Applied Professional Studies supports the development of confident, skilled practitioners. It is a framework for study which is flexible and accessible for a broad range of professionals.” 

Duncan Helm, Programme Director

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

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 for application in existing work roles or for future career development. Our post-qualifying awards are a valuable addition to the curriculum vitae and are widely recognised as a mark of rigour and depth in professional learning and practice development.

Child Welfare and Protection

The programme 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. The Certificate in Child Welfare and Protection has been a benchmark qualification for over 25 years now and provides practitioners with the skills and knowledge required to work with confidence and competence. The Certificate is therefore an important qualification for practitioners to have on their CV when applying for posts in safeguarding and wellbeing. Employers are increasingly seeking individuals with a specialist knowledge and skills in child protection when seeking to appoint leaders in this key area. The Diploma supports Certificate students to take their studies further and develop areas of professional expertise so the award is a recognition of advanced skills and knowledge in specialised areas of practice such as practice teaching, risk analysis, supervision and direct practice. For practitioners leading in practice and knowledge development, the Masters dissertation signifies to employers that you have research capacity and professional-level thinking built on secure foundations of theory and research. These awards provide a clear pathway for your investment in study to build over time and enhance employability in frontline and senior positions.

Students can also opt to progress onto Advanced Practice Skills which aims to develop enhanced knowledge and skills for direct work with children and families.

Management and Leadership in Social Services

University of Stirling has offered post qualifying courses in social services management for over twenty years and has an established reputation for supporting both new and experienced managers to develop their skills and confidence as effective leaders. The opportunity to study alongside peers from diverse sectors and specialisms enables course participants to deepen their understanding of integrated services and the boundary spanning roles which are essential to contemporary practice.

Successful attainment of a social services management qualification has been seen to enhance participants’ future career opportunities. Our courses are recognised by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as approved awards for registered managers. During their study and on completion candidates have experienced the benefits of undertaking a post qualifying award by securing promotion or moving into strategic planning or senior management posts.

Course participants span supervisors and managers from Children’s Services, Criminal Justice Social Work and Adult Health and Social Care. They include staff with varying professional backgrounds e.g. social work, nursing and occupational therapy and they work across fieldwork, residential and day service settings."

 Adult Support and Protection

Post qualifying  study is increasingly important to developing a career in health and social services, whether that be in the public, private or third sector.  Successful completion of this course demonstrates, to current or future employers,  a commitment to updating knowledge, developing analytical skills and seeking out research that is relevant to improving practice and service delivery

Social Work Practice Education

This programme is designed to equip experienced practitioners with the knowledge and skills to support the learning and professional development of others. Candidates will gain skills in supervision; promoting reflective and analytical thinking and writing; promoting integration of knowledge, skills and values in practice as well as assessing competence. The Postgraduate Certificate in Social Work Practice Education is, therefore, a valuable qualification to enable practitioners to further their careers in practice education, staff supervision, learning and development and as practitioners with enhanced analytical and reflective practice skills.




98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

Industry connections

The team at Stirling has developed close and enduring links 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.

Links are maintained through agency liaison events, strong agency representation on the course committee and collaborative mentoring and assessment opportunities. By maintaining strong links with stakeholders we ensure that our programmes anticipate learning needs in the workforce. Our commitment to partnership working not only supports student retention and completion but also makes Stirling's programmes highly effective in embedding learning and contributing to longer-term practice development.

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