Continuing Professional Development

Study at our Academy for Advanced Social Work

We provide tailored learning opportunities for social workers who have been working in a qualified role for at least one year and who are engaged in complex work. 

Courses are delivered by people who are leaders in their fields, conducting research about contemporary issues in social work or engaged in new developments in social work practice themselves. 

There is a wide range of modules about specific practice issues, which can be taken as stand-alone courses or combined to lead to a postgraduate qualification (PGCert, PGDip or MA).  Courses are taught through a combination of intensive workshops and learning online. 

All courses are designed to be accessible to people in full-time work, including people who live some distance from Lancaster.  As well as social workers, all stand-alone courses are available to other professionals working in health, welfare, therapeutic and protection services.

Why study at Lancaster?

The Department provides a lively and active research environment with much on-going research work in the field of social work and social welfare. The Department has been judged as excellent for its social work teaching and research. You can find out more about our staff, their publications and research interests.

Courses provided by the Academy for Advanced Social Work will enable social workers and other professionals to evidence their continuing professional development, enable practitioners to develop their skills in critically reflexive practice and keep up to date with developments in policy and practice nationally and internationally.  Modules enable practitioners to develop as frontline practitioners, as supervisors, managers, practice educators and in leadership roles.

Staff who teach on courses in the Academy for Advanced Social Work have a wide range of research and practice interests which are reflected in the courses that we offer.  These include child protection, child sexual exploitation, personalisation, service users' experiences, race and diversity, sexuality, critical approaches to anti-oppressive practice, social approaches in mental health practice, safeguarding of adults who are at risk and the Court of Protection. 

Who studies with us?

Our courses are designed for social workers and other professionals in health and welfare services.  Social workers should have been qualified at least one year, have completed the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) and be at the 'social worker' or 'experienced social worker' levels of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF)  These are practitioners who are engaged with complex work, manage greater levels of risk and uncertainty and hold increased levels of responsibility.

As well as social workers, all stand-alone short courses are available for other professionals.  They are likely to be of particular interest to health visitors, community psychiatric nurses, police officers working in public protection units, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and those working in private, voluntary or independent social care services.

How are courses delivered?

Courses are delivered using a variety of teaching and learning approaches designed to enable participants to explore the relevance of knowledge for practice, promote deep learning and enable participants to learn from each other.  Campus based teaching is usually limited to a small number of intensive, day-long workshops, in order to fit with participants' work commitments and to be accessible for people who live outside of the region.  All modules are designed for part-time study and academic qualifications can be completed over a time period of up to 60 months.

A typical 20 credit module will involve two day-long workshops on campus alongside weekly online seminars and other group discussion, individual study and tutorials which can occur in person, online or over the phone.  Course have a maximum number of either 15 or 20 participants and there is an emphasis on small group learning and individual contact with tutors.

What qualifications are available?

Most short courses carry postgraduate academic credits.  These can be accumulated and lead to a qualification.  The following qualifications are available to qualified social workers:

  • Postgraduate Certificate of Achievement (20 credits, also available to professionals other than social workers)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Social Work (60 credits)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Social Work (120 credits)
  • MA in Advanced Social Work (180 credits, including 60 credits action research or work based project)

Which courses lead to an academic qualification?

All courses which carry academic credits can be used towards an academic qualification. You can choose which courses you study, tailoring the programme to fit your requirements. Any combination of courses can be used to gain a qualification, but certain combinations work particularly well.  You can talk to us about which combination of courses is most likely to meet your requirements.  

You can also gain credits in relation to the one-day workshops by studying one of the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) modules. We support you to evidence learning from the workshops in your own practice, through a written assignment. The APL modules carry credits which can be used towards a qualification.

What are the entry requirements?

Participants must have experience of practice in social work or another profession in health or social welfare. They will usually have a 2:2 degree in Social Work or a social science subject, or a degree level qualification in a related profession such as nursing, or a Masters degree in Social Work. 

Read more about our short courses and workshops, how to apply, fees and funding, or frequently asked questions.