Join our Postgraduate Open Day - Saturday 22 June

Register now

Step Up to Social Work

14 months
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
See the fees and funding section for more details.

Enter a profession which is both a challenging and rewarding career, through which you can make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children and families

Applications are now closed for the 2024 Step Up to Social Work programme.

Please note that the DfE may award funding for another round of Step Up programmes to begin in 2026.  However, this is unconfirmed. 

If you were unsuccessful in your 2023 application, missed the opportunity to apply and or are unable to wait for the next possible programme, you could consider alternative routes into social work, such as the University of Birmingham's Masters in social work programme. 

MA Social Work 

We have places available on our MA Social Work course at the University of Birmingham. These places have a bursary attached for eligible students. The NHS bursary can support you with your study fees and the cost of living. Read more about the bursary, including eligibility criteria. 

If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer:

The Step up to Social Work programme  

As a social worker, you will need to build relationships with families facing difficult times, listen, enable and advocate and work with empathy, compassion and humility. Your emotional intelligence, resilience, stamina, and resolve will be tested as you negotiate complex human rights, ethical and moral issues, which demand self-awareness, a non-judgemental attitude and high order thinking skills. The tests of social work are rewarded with the chance to facilitate positive change in the lives of those you work with.

This programme, delivered by the University of Birmingham and in collaboration with the West Midlands Regional Teaching Partnership, will ensure you meet the requirements for a social work qualification on successful completion of all modules and placements. Once awarded a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Social Work, you will be able to register with Social Work England and practice as a social worker.

Social Work is an academic and practice-based discipline therefore, all students will be expected to perform with academic skill in equal measure to practical skill. This duality is reflected in the 14 month programme, which features several assessed modules designed to develop your social work knowledge, skills and values.

We offer a range of learning activities throughout, drawing upon contributions from our 'Lived Experience' (service user and carer) team, local professionals and former students. In addition to the taught sessions, you will complete 2 practice learning opportunities ('placements') in which you are expected to apply your research and theory informed learning in practical ways. Placements are identified by the Regional Partnership team and will be based in the Local Authority area you are assigned to.  


The Step Up programme is backed by a £25m investment by the Department for Education to support 700 individuals to enter the social work profession in local authorities across England in 2024. The Department for Education covers the cost of your university tuition and provides a tax-free bursary of £19,833 paid over the duration of the programme to support you during your training.  This bursary reflects the fact that it is highly unlikely that you will be able to take any paid employment at any point in the 14 month programme and that you are committing to post graduate employment in a Children and Families service within a Local Authority or Trust.

Please note that if your programme is extended for any reason e.g. missed placement days or repeat placements days, you may not complete in 14 months and will need to consider contingencies.

Our Standard Requirements

Please visit the Department of Education for entry requirements.


International Requirements

You should commit to academic study Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 4.00pm approximately. You need also to commit to a first placement of 70 days (Monday to Friday) and a second for 100 days (Monday to Friday). There will be 1 independent study day per week during module teaching weeks, and a series of 'Practice Consolidation Days' for reflection during your placement.

All teaching and learning activities are linked to Social Work England’s professional standards and the British Association of Social Worker’s capabilities framework, to ensure you meet the requirements for a social work qualification at the close of the programme. Once you have successfully completed all modules and 2 placements, you will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work enabling you to apply to register with Social Work England and practice as a social worker.