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MA Advanced Practice (Child and Family Social Work)

Postgraduate study in the School of Health & Social Sciences video

This part-time course will allow you to focus on your own specialist area of practice with children and families, and to have a positive impact on service development from a practice perspective. The units have been selected to develop practitioners who can use independent critical judgment to take a leading role in systematically developing their own practice and that of others.

The course will meet the needs of social workers practicing at a senior level who wish to progress to an advanced level, exercising high quality professional judgement as outlined in the Professional Capabilities Framework, Knowledge and Skills requirements and professional standards.This course retains the emphasis on advanced practice with children and families rather than career progression which would go down a management pathway.

Learning methods will include interactive workshops and more traditional learning materials, supported by web-based resources. You'll be responsible for managing your individualised service improvement project that will help you develop your own professional practice and contribute to service development. Units and their assessments will allow flexibility so that learning can be shaped to meet your professional needs.

Key information

Next start date:

Please enquire to for details


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


Maximum 5 years

Entry requirements:

Applicants are normally expected to have at least one year of professional or management experience and a first degree or its equivalent. A professional qualification may be acceptable with evidence of professional experience at degree equivalent level. Applicants for the programme must also meet the professional requirements set out in Schedule 1 of the Mental Health (AMHP) Regulations 2008 and hold a professional qualification in social work, nursing, occupational therapy or psychology and be currently registered to that profession as laid out in Schedule 1. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

We've designed this course to enable busy health and social care practitioners to be able to study individual units allowing you to steadily work towards a postgraduate qualification, flexibly and at your own pace. There are various exit qualifications for this course depending on the number of units you study. 

Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice (Child & Family Social Work)

  • Evidencing Professional Learning 1, 2 or 3: Learn to evaluate yourself as a lifelong learner and to apply learning outcomes in the complex and unpredictable professional context. You can take this unit up to three times on the course. All parts can be taken as work based CPD units and combine what you’ve previously learnt before taking our Master’s level programme.

Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Practice (Child & Family Social Work)

  • Critical Thinking in Advanced Practice: Develop your expertise in critical thinking by using evidence from research and practice experience to inform complex judgements and decisions when working at an advanced level of professional practice.
  • Advanced Practice in Health and Social Care (Children and Families): Show how your knowledge and skills have improved your practice capability when working in complex situations. You’ll be able to work across organisational and professional settings when using professional judgment and responsibility.

Option units (choose one)

  • Leading and Enabling Others: This unit is designed for social workers who want to improve their ability in enabling others to learn and improve their practice. It focuses on working with individuals and groups to ease reflective practice, promote a learning culture and support the development of professional. 
  • Practice Observation Unit: This unit is designed to offer the opportunity for reflective learning through observational feedback. Regular observations of practice will feature strongly in continuous professional development of social workers in the future and this unit offers the opportunity for individuals to agree learning outcomes, carry out three observed practices and write a reflective assignment based on their observer’s feedback. Students will be required to arrange for a practice assessor to observe and assess them against agreed capabilities. The reflective assignment is marked by the university.

MA in Advanced Practice (Child & Family Social Work)

  • Preparing for your Service Improvement Project: This unit will provide an opportunity to develop a focus and proposal for a Service Improvement Project (SIP) which in  turn will work to bring about a measurable benefit to a service or services against a stated aim. It will explore a range of knowledge, skills and attributes to enable the student to prepare for the project. This unit is a prerequisite for the Service Improvement Project. 
  • Service Improvement Project: The project embraces both traditional and non-traditional forms of intellectual inquiry and relevant and effective practical management. It demonstrates the student’s autonomous and independent professional ability, within a complex professional context, to create knowledge which expands and redefines existing knowledge and/or develops new approaches to service improvement.

Find out more about each individual unit here.  

Programme Specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MA Advance Practice (Child & Family Social Work).

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background & Experience

This course is designed for qualified social workers who have already studied to degree level and wish to expand your sphere of practice to include new elements within your professional role.

You must also be engaged in practice for normally a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Students with relevant previous study and experience may APEL some units of the PG Dip, in which case a fee reduction will occur.

Full entry requirements

Applicants are normally expected to have at least one year of professional or management experience and a first degree or its equivalent. A professional qualification may be acceptable with evidence of professional experience at degree equivalent level.

Applicants for the programme must also meet the professional requirements set out in Schedule 1 of the Mental Health (AMHP) Regulations 2008 and hold a professional qualification in social work, nursing, occupational therapy or psychology and be currently registered to that profession as laid out in Schedule 1. 

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 overall or equivalent with 6.0 in all other components, or equivalent. 

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

We offer a single point of contact for all questions and enquiries regarding Post Qualifying Social Work courses.

Please contact our NCPQSW Administration Team (National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work) for more information:

  • Tel: +44 (0)1202 964765
  • Email:

Please note: If your fees are to be paid by your employer you should submit your application via your Workforce Development Officer so that your employer can sign the sponsor section of the payment agreement. This must take place before you can be enrolled.

If you are paying your own fees you should submit your application directly to the NCPQSW Administration Team.


Developing your critical thinking skills and undertaking independent study based on the development of your role or service will help you feel confident in your leadership role in the current environment of healthcare provision and in advance of future changes.

Career progression may lead to you becoming a:

  • Specialist practitioner
  • Academic lecturer
  • Academic researcher.

Industries you could work in:

  • NHS (hospital and community)
  • Private and independent healthcare sector (nursing homes and private hospitals)
  • Education
  • Academic research.

Further Study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

  • All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions & specialist teaching facilities.
  • One set of study-related consumables such as a hard copy/memory stick/ DVD
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service;
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, Faculty Librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/ improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our unilinx bus service operates in the local areas, offering a subsided travel rate. We also have a large number of bike storage facilities.
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Travel to placement is your responsibility; you may be able to reclaim costs from NHS Student Bursaries
  • Supplementary uniform supplies
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/ securing placements
  • Professional Body membership/registration post qualification
  • Internet access at discretion of your accommodation provider
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Other possible costs to consider

  • Replacement Student ID card- £10.00 (per replacement)
  • Cost of resit examination- No charge if examined at Bournemouth University, if examined elsewhere costs may be incurred at the Exam Centre
  • Cost of additional transcript results- £10.00 (per year of study)
  • Replacement certificate (Postgraduate and Diploma level students only)- £30.00 (per replacement)

Additional information

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