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MSc|Postgraduate Taught

Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law

Entry year
Entry requirements
3 years (Part-time)
Places available
25 (Part Time)

The MSc in Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law provides the required training for social workers to undertake the role of Approved Social Worker under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 and the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.

This is a statutory role and applications must have the support of a Health and Social Care Trust. The PG Diploma provides the qualification for practising as an Approved Social Worker (ASW) and then the Dissertation Module must be successfully completed for the MSc.

Contributors to the taught element of the ASW Programme are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and professions including service users and carers; ASWs and other social work staff, psychiatrists, psychologists and nursing staff; representatives from the courts, Review Tribunal; Regulation Quality Improvement Authority; legal advisers and researchers.

Please note that this course is not eligible for a Student route visa.

Closing date for applications: Wednesday 31st July 2024 at 4 pm. Late applications may be considered.

The programme responds to the needs of its students with updated, current and evidence-based information which will enhance their PG educational experience through vibrant and interactive learning.

Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law highlights

Professional Accreditations

This MSc has been accredited by the Northern Ireland Post-Qualifying Education and Training Partnership and meets all nine of the professional requirements in the ‘Specialist’ category and giving the specialist award (PG Diploma option) and three requirements at the ‘Leadership and Strategic’ category.

Industry Links

On this programme there will be restricted access to relevant data by employers, the NISCC, Dept. of Health, HSC Boards and any successor bodies.

Career Development

Professional Development
For applicants the programmes offer relevant CPD opportunities as well as recognised qualifications accredited by the University which will augment their professional development and enhance the development of further opportunities in their chosen field of practice.

Student Experience

The Programme Director has developed and nurtured their subject proficiency via their own practice, teaching and research in relation to their specialist area and they impart this trilateral expertise to the students via teaching on the MSc.

Industry Links

For social workers, the programme reflects the Department of Health policy in relation to social work and social care training and development, including links with the Northern Ireland Professional in Practice Partnership’s professional requirements and awards in the specialist and leadership categories.

Course Structure

The MSc in Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law is awarded to students who successfully complete taught modules (PG Diploma,120 CATS points) and a 15,000 – 20,000 word dissertation (60 CATS points).

People teaching you

Professor of Social Care and Programme Director

Professor Gavin Davidson is a qualified social worker whose research interests are in the area of mental health, specifically: the effectiveness of mental health services; the recovery approach; inequalities; trauma; coercion; mental health/mental capacity legislation; and the associations between adverse childhood experiences and mental health.

Teaching Times

In addition to the 37 taught days (normally taught in blocks of 1-5 days), practice days will also be available to enable candidates to gather the necessary evidence of competence.

Learning and Teaching

Learning opportunities associated with this course are a combination of lectures, small group work, skills workshops and practice:

  • Practice Days

    In addition to the 37 taught days, practice days will also be available to enable candidates to gather the necessary evidence of competence. Candidates should be able to address many of the core practice and competence requirements in their own work setting. However, where this is not possible, it is envisaged that no more than 35 practice days will be spent outside of that setting. In addition, 4 private study days are allocated to each Module (12 days in total) and 5 days, for meetings with the practice assessor.

  • Training Profile

    You will have an individual training profile and learning agreement around which your full programme, including practice, supervision and private study will be developed.

  • VLE

    Canvas is the university’s VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). You will have a Canvas site for each module which will work a little like a website where you can click on information to download or view it. For each module, the Canvas site will include resources such as: recorded audio/ visual lectures; readings (some of which are downloadable); video links; useful web links; discussion forums; activities. This is also where you will submit your coursework and receive feedback.


Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

  • Assessment methods include a written assignment, a presentation, a written exam, observations of practice, a practice portfolio and a dissertation (for the final 60 credits).


The School is situated across a suite of three buildings in Belfast's Queen's Quarter. We provide student and staff common rooms, computer suites and designated study spaces.
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The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2023/24). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

Entrance requirements


Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Where this is not met, applicants must demonstrate that their experience and qualifications enable them to study at postgraduate level by showing either that they have the Pre-2007 Post-Qualifying Social Work Award or by producing a reflective assignment on their practice in this area (2,000 words).

Applicants must be nominated by their Health and Social Care Trust/employer who will undertake to provide support and appropriate learning opportunities. It will be the responsibility of employers to ensure that applicants have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate social work competence in their work with people who have a mental disorder and/or lack capacity, and their carers.

Closing date for applications: Wednesday 31st July 2024 at 4pm

Late applications may be considered.

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students

Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years.)

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.



Career Prospects


Continuing professional registration in social work is predicated on continuing professional development, which this programme and its pathways offer. The Dept. of Health has directed that social workers demonstrate their competence covered in the curricula of this programme and its pathways.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £7,300
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £7,300
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £9,250
EU Other 3 £21,500
International £21,500

1EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Additional course costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

How do I fund my study?

The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £11,836 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

More information on funding options and financial assistance - please check this link regularly, even after you have submitted an application, as new scholarships may become available to you.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at



How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Apply now

When to Apply

The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

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