Post-qualifying Award in social work with children, young people, their families and carers

Who is this course for?

This course is primarily intended for qualified social work practitioners who are registered with the HCPC and undertake direct work with children and young people.  They may work for:

  • Local Authority children's services teams
  • CAMHS teams
  • The voluntary or not-for-profit sector

Entry requirements

The course is offered at both graduate and postgraduate levels.  To be eligible for the postgraduate programme you must hold a degree as well as a recognised social work qualification.  To enrol on the BPhil programme, you must hold a recognised social work qualification.  All candidates follow the same programme of study.

How to apply

All applicants need the support of their sponsoring authority.  You will also need to complete an application form and write a 1000 word review of your learning post qualification.  If you require an application form, please contact the programme administrator, Donna Purkiss, +44(0)121 414 6549,

Course structure

The taught element of the course is delivered on a part time basis over 2 academic years and starts with a half day induction to the programme. There are 6 modules, each attracting 20 academic credits. Each module involves 5 or 6 days attendance at the University in blocks of 2 or 3 days.

Modules may be taken on an individual basis and are also open to colleagues from other disciplines.

The course was initially designed to meet the GSCC requirements for the Specialist Award in Social Work with Children, Young People, their Families and Carers.  Overall, the course seeks to highlight the importance of attachment theory and attachment minded practice, resilience, narrative thinking and relationship-based practice in direct work with children, young people, their families and carers. Attention to working within a performance management culture, the user experience, working alongside colleagues from other agencies and disciplines, and anti-oppressive practice feature throughout the programme.


We aim to produce practitioners who are 'thinking performers' with the course developing skills in:

  • Critical reading and analysis
  • Assessing and managing risk
  • Working effectively with a range of service users and their carers
  • Delivering interventions
  • Enabling the learning of others

Module 1: A Consolidation Module (6 days)

This module includes attention to: diversity, reflection and reflexivity; child development; communication and engagement; interagency working and safeguarding; and information sharing. Ideas from relationship based practice and attachment theory are prominent in the module.

Module 2: Law and Professional Practice (5 days)

This module is in two parts - the first 3 days are led by a practising barrister and aims to ensure candidates have an up-to-date grasp of current child care law.  The final 2 days look at presenting complex information in formal arenas (for example at case conferences and court).  There is a strong skills element to this section of the programme.

Module 3: Assessment and Risk (6 days)

This module aims to develop practitioner skills in assessing complex situations.  Assessing attachments as well as assessing specific issues (for example, alcohol misuse, parental disability and domestic violence), in the context of risk are canvassed alongside strengths based practice.

Consideration is also given to models of assessment and development of an evidence informed approach. 'Objectivity' and power in assessment work are also addressed.

Module 4: Child Centred Practice / Child Observation (6 days)

The primary aim of this module is to encourage practitioners to adopt a more child centred (as opposed to child focused) approach to their work. Mind-mindedness is emphasised alongside thinking about practice from a narrative perspective and promoting reiliences. Various specific themes are canvassed including contact and direct work. This module includes inputs from service users.

As an alternative, we are pleased to offer practitioners the opportunity to undertake the Child Observation Module. This is based on the successful module run as part of our earlier PQ in Child Care Award and is heavily influenced by the Esther Bick / Tavistock model of observation. Support is provided by a number of child psychotherapists and practitioners trained in this approach. 

Module 5: Change, Transitions and Empowerment (6 days)

There are 2 themes within this module.  The first is a consideration of effecting change at the 'micro' level within families; and the second is a consideration of how change can be promoted more tangentially, through, for example, the use of consultation. The importance of transitions and relationships are emphasised alongside motivational interviewing and systemic ideas about change.

Module 6: Enabling Others (5 days)

This module is based on our highly successful 5 day practice assessor course, but with a particular emphasis on working in children's services during days 4 and 5.

Further details about each of these modules can be obtained from the Programme Director.

How is the course assessed?

Module 1: There are three assessed pieces of work: a written case study, a report from the candidate's supervisor on an observed piece of work and the completion of Situational Judgement Inventory.

Module 2: A written 'open book' exam and presentation.

Modules 3, 4 & 5: A written case study and structured critique of an academic paper focusing on a specific area of interest within the area of study (for example, safeguarding the needs of asylum seeking children or young people with mental health problems).

Module 6: A written case study plus specific supporting evidence and direct observation of the candidate's practice.

Candidates also have to provide an additional observation of their direct practice during Modules 3 or 4.

All case studies are approximately 3,000- 4,000 words in length.  In addition, candidates also have to complete a reflective review of their learning from each module

Further information

Start date: September/October

Duration: 2 years (part time)

Fees : £3,528 (for the full award) or £588 per module (if you already have either the Consolidation module or a certified Practice Teacher Award, or other relevant certified awards, you may be able to claim exemption from one or two of the modules).


Donna Purkiss
Programme Administrator
Tel: +44(0)121 414 6549

Mark Chesterman
Director of PQ Programmes
Tel: +44(0)121 414 5731

Self-financing applicants should discuss their application with Mark Chesterman prior to submitting any application.