MSc/PGDip/PGCert Advanced Child Protection Studies

(distance learning)

Part-time - PGCert one year, PGDip two years, MSc 30 months. Full time – MSc 18 months
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught

MSC £10,530
PGCert £3,510
PGDip £7,020
£58.50 per credit


Student Anna tells us about her experiences as a distance learner on the MSc Advanced Child Protection Studies course at the University of Birmingham.

This multidisciplinary Masters programme in Advanced Child Protection Studies is designed to develop specialist knowledge and skills within the field of child protection and safeguarding.

The programme is designed to appeal to the more experienced professional already engaged in this area of activity – for example in social work, policing, law, education, nursing and health. However, those with an academic interest in the area (for example social policy, law or criminology graduates) are also encouraged to apply, subject to being able to satisfy the requirements of the various modules

The course is taught by experienced practitioners and experts in the field and will provide you with the opportunity to focus on specific areas of interest. We have pathways for students wanting to focus on UK/English child protection and safeguarding work and students wanting to focus on international child protection work. There are four 30-credit modules which can be taken on a part-time or full-time basis. There is also a dissertation for those taking the MSc.

The programme is a online distance learning programme, which combines innovative learning and teaching techniques with interaction with the tutor and fellow students. Not only are students provided with high quality teaching, but they have the additional benefit of having the flexibility to study anywhere at any time. No specialist knowledge in technology is required, you will just need to have access to the internet and know how to use it. Learning activities are structured to provide simplicity and you will be supported throughout the programme. 


To obtain the MSc you will complete four 30 credit modules and a 60 credit dissertation.

  • Part time students will take 2 modules in years 1 and 2 and the dissertation module in year 3. 
  • Full time students will take 4 modules in year one and complete the dissertation component in year 2.

Law, Policy and Inter-agency Working (30 credits)

Year one, semester one part time and full time students

Child protection work necessarily takes place within a defined but often contested, and indeed ever-changing, legal and policy context. Understanding this context is essential if we are to a) understand how child protection services are organised and delivered, and b) ensure that the delivery of these services is ethical, humane and, ultimately, lawful. This module aims to equip you with the necessary up-to-date legal and policy knowledge in order to effectively critique service delivery at all levels within the ‘child protection system’.

International Child Protection (30 Credits) – for international child protection pathway

Year one, semester one part time and full time students

The module aims to develop and advance students’ knowledge of practice and policy in protecting children in an international context. The module explores global perspectives on childhood and focuses on (1) international frameworks for child protection, (2) the individual work of multidisciplinary practitioners, (3) organisational, social, cultural, economic, political, and geopolitical contexts, and (4) contemporary challenges in child protection, including children in complex emergencies, separated children, and migration and displacement. The module will consider and critique the evidence base in the face of the ever-changing contexts involved in international safeguarding work.

Risk, Analysis and Decision Making (30 credits)

Year one semester 2 part time and full time students

Everyone involved with safeguarding or child protection work, be they practitioners, managers, and policy makers will be concerned with the analysis of risk and the decision making that stems from this. This module therefore develops your ability to critically analyse the current processes, methods, and frameworks utilised in contemporary child protection practice, while critically reflecting on your own practice and the practice within the systems that you work in.

Help, Support and Direct Work (30 credits)

Year two semester 1, part time students. Year one semester 1, full time students

Good child protection practice results in children being safe and well cared for. Achieving this, however, is far from straightforward; and everyone involved in child protection work need to be able to identify, support, and promote practice that keeps children safe, while adhering to ethical standards of practice. This module explores the evidence and practice base of, and for, direct practice so that you can develop greater knowledge about how to engage, motivate, and assist (when necessary) people to change, to ensure that children and young people are kept safe.

Organisations, Systems and Leadership (30 credits)

Year two semester 2, part time students. Year one semester 2, full time students.

Child protection practice operates within and across a range of complex organisations and systems. However, we continue to see very similar failures in quality and safety within a range of professional cultures. This module takes a systems view of the child protection field to critically consider the assumptions that underlie many of these policy responses which provide the foundation for contemporary child protection practice. It will critically interrogate how these systems have been designed, and look at how we might design safer systems around a more sophisticated understanding of the relational dynamics within and between different professional groups.

Dissertation (60 credits)

Year three semester 1, part time students. Year two semester 1, full time students

The dissertation module is a key component of the programme which aims to facilitate the development of higher-level critical analysis, and to develop your capacities for knowledge-informed practice and more original thinking in relation to the complex issues that arise in the field of child protection.

All the modules are compulsory and are for students starting in 2024.


Fees 2024 - 2025

The fees are £58.50 per credit.

For the full qualification, the fees will be:

  • PGCert: £3,510
  • PGDip: £7,020
  • MSc: £10,530

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

You may be able to apply for a postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK which provides up to £12,167 (after August 2023) for taught and research Masters courses. More information may be found on the UK government website.

How To Apply

The deadline for all applications is 30 August 2024. You will need to ensure that you have provided all of the required information for us to be able to offer you a place on the course. The required information is a completed application form via the online portal (see apply now button above), proof of your qualifications, a short personal statement saying why you want to do the course, one reference on headed paper or emailed to us (from a verified institution email address), and a valid and current English language test certificate if applicable (see entry requirements tab above).

If you are interested in this programme you are welcome to contact the programme director Matthew Gibson for an informal conversation.  You can also pose questions on specific aspects of the course by using our informal enquiry form.

When clicking on the Apply now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for, where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages.

Please note, applicants will need to supply one reference on headed paper with their application.

If you wish to apply to undertake a single module, you will need to contact Matthew Gibson for a paper application form.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

The normal entrance requirement is a good Honours degree (upper second-class or above). However, extensive appropriate career experience may be taken into account if you are able to demonstrate ability to successfully work at Masters level.

As some of the learning tasks are integrated into actual practice, you will need to be employed in, or have negotiated access to, an organisation that undertakes or contributes to child protection work. If you are not already employed in a child protection organisation, you will need to supply a written agreement from the relevant organisation prior to registration.

You will need to supply the names of one reference from an organisational email address or as a PDF on headed paper and include a short personal statement with your application.

 If you would like further information about entry requirements please contact Matthew Gibson.

International Requirements

International Students

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students

Graduate Diploma students must have IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.

  • IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band
  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Our modules are structured to provide easily accessible learning resources, tasks, and assessments that engage you in flexible and streamlined learning. Support is provided throughout the programme directly by the tutor in group and individual sessions. Furthermore, some activities are organised to encourage peer support and develop peer learning within the cohort to enhance the learning experience. A variety of learning and teaching methods are used throughout, including:

  • Online learning: our online learning environment is powerful, reliable and refreshingly easy to use, enabling you to access all information and materials at any time on any device.
  • Video lectures: experts in the field provide short videos on specific topics to develop analytical and critical thinking.
  • Interactive learning tasks: learning is organised and integrated into the teaching topic, actively engaging you in the learning exercises.
  • Work-centred learning: learning is integrated into real-time child protection practice to compliment and tailor your workplace and personal interests in specialist areas.
  • Social interaction: online and face to face interaction is provided through discussion forums, learning sets and one-to-one tutorials, ensuring you feel connected and supported.

Assessment Methods

Module 1: Law, Policy and Inter-Agency Working

  • A 2-hour timed assessment
  • A process observation*
  • A proposal to improve some aspect of inter-agency working / policy

*A process observation requires the observer to observe and reflect on the general atmosphere and the social environment of the situation being observed, and to attend to the nature of the emotional relationships between the different participants or groups involved.

Module 1: International Child Protection (international child protection pathway)

  • A short literature review
  • A process observation*
  • A proposal to improve some aspect of service delivery related to the investigation or assessment of some aspect of child protection

Module 2: Risk, Analysis and Decision Making

  • A short literature review
  • A process observation*
  • A proposal to improve some aspect of service delivery related to the investigation or assessment of some aspect of child protection

Module 3: Help, Support and Direct Work

  • A short literature review
  • A process observation*
  • A proposal to improve some aspect of service delivery related to help, assistance or direct work

Module 4: Organisations, Systems and Leadership 

  • A short literature review
  • A process observation*
  • A proposal to improve some aspect of service delivery related to service design or service delivery

Module 5: Dissertation

A 10,000 word dissertation

The course particularly offers successful candidates the potential to:

  • enhance their careers through developing an expert or specialist child protection role in the work place
  • develop a research or development role within child protection or safeguarding organisations
  • further develop their academic studies in the field of child protection, safeguarding and child welfare

Please note that the programme does not lead to a professional qualification. By this we mean that it does not lead to a qualification in social work, teaching, nursing etc, nor enable you to register with a professional body associated with a profession. Rather it is an academic qualification in child protection from the University of Birmingham.