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Palliative Care (PGDip)

PgDip|Postgraduate Taught

Palliative Care

Entry year
Entry requirements
Bachelor Honours Degree
2 years (Part Time)
Places available
20 (Part Time)

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care was developed to provide a way to address the training needs of social workers involved in delivering care to people living with life-limiting or life-threatening illness and supporting informal caregivers both pre and post bereavement.

This course will be of interest to qualified social workers who are either working in generalist or specialist palliative care with adults. It may also be of interest to social workers learning or physical disability with adults, primary care, mental health, community mental health team for older people, older peoples’ services, hospital social work posts or hard to reach populations (i.e. prison service, homelessness or addiction services) or who have people with palliative care needs on their caseload.

Online delivery will enable social workers across different countries, service user groups and settings, to apply.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), meeting all nine requirements.

This programme will not be suitable for sponsored visa students to attend. It is an online part time programme and international students may study this in their home countries.

The programme will be open for application every two years, commencing in September 2023.

Closing date: Friday 16th June 2023 at 4pm.

Palliative Care highlights

Professional Accreditations

  • The Diploma is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).

Internationally Renowned Experts

  • Given the complex nature of palliative care and the range of topics to be covered in the modules, specialists within certain fields will contribute to the delivery of teaching. In addition, existing social workers from other countries will contribute to the teaching, to promote the international diversity of social work.
  • SSESW academic staff with expertise in Systemic Practice and CBT will provide their specialist expertise on assessments and interventions. Staff from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, with specialist expertise in palliative care, will be invited to contribute to teaching on Principles of Palliative care on multi-disciplinary team working, and staff from Queen’s Management School will also deliver specialist teaching on leadership.
“Through experiential learning, the online Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care Social Work will develop and enhance practitioner confidence and skills in the complex areas of living with life-limiting or chronic illness (malignant and non-malignant), attachment, loss and grief. This course has been developed specificially for social workers who are working with people who have palliative care needs, regardless of service user group or setting (i.e. children’s disability, physical or learning disability, primary care, addictions, mental health, prisons, homelessness, dementia care, integrated care teams, hospital, or specialist palliative care teams.”
Professor Audrey Roulston, Programme Director

Course Structure

Students may enrol on a part-time basis only. Modules are delivered online in blocks of four days every two weeks.

The Postgraduate Diploma is awarded to students who successfully complete six taught modules (120 CATS points).

An exit qualification is available: students may exit with a Postgraduate Certificate by successfully completing 60 CATS points from taught modules.

Course DetailsCore Modules (all 20 CATS points):

Principles of palliative care and illness
Lectures in this module will explore definitions, principles and philosophy of palliative care, they will differentiate between generalist and specialist palliative care, highlight key policies driving change in palliative care and the roles and responsibilities of palliative care social workers and multi-disciplinary team members. Tutorials/workshops in this module, will explore models of reflection, self-care, service user and carer experiences of palliative care, benefits and barriers to accessing palliative care, models of palliative care and methods for assessing needs, based on case scenarios.

Enhanced assessment, care planning and communication in palliative care
Lecture in this module will explore person-centred approaches, empowerment, advocacy and user involvement in assessment and care planning. You will be taught how theories of loss and grief inform assessments of need, the importance of care planning and information sharing, as well as advanced communication skills. The workshops will promote opportunities for students to apply theory to practice application (i.e. case scenarios, role plays and chairing family meetings or discharge planning meetings). They will also hear the voice of service users regarding their experiences of assessment, care planning and sharing / breaking bad news.

Ethics and law in palliative care
Lectures on this module will prompt students to consider the challenges emerging from ethical dilemmas and the implications of relevant policies or legislation that can arise during illness, loss and bereavement. Students will examine ways to identify and manage competing needs of service users, families or carers to make informed judgements in the context of relevant policy, legislation and contexts (i.e. refusal of treatment, preferred place of care, advance care planning, mental capacity, adult safeguarding and assisted dying). Tutorials/workshops will offer students the opportunity to hear the experiences of service users about how risks and rights were managed. Students will also have the opportunity to examine ethical dilemmas in more depth and practice skills required for advance care planning conversations through role-plays in small tutorial groups. Formative written feedback will be provided by the academic tutor for role-plays.

Care planning and intervention in palliative care
The lectures in this module will focus on the psychological, sociological, social and spiritual dimensions of loss, and will develop the insight of students into cultural sensitivities around illness, end-of-life care and bereavement. Students will also be introduced to principles and theory or systemic practice, and visual mapping techniques. The tutorials/workshops will provide opportunities for students to hear the experiences of service users regarding loss of role or identity and the financial, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions of life-limiting illness. They will be prompted to consider cultural competence and sensitivity when working with seldom heard service user groups, such as LGBTQQ+, prisoners and people experiencing homelessness). There will be two 4-hour workshops to explore what happens to families when someone takes ill from a systemic practice perspective, and practical application of ecomaps, timelines, and genograms.

Evidence informed practice and leadership
In this module, students will be introduced to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to demonstrate evidence-based, low intensity, psychological treatments for anxiety and depression. In the lectures, students will learn how to enable service users or carers (active or bereaved), to use self-help and self-management methods such as CBT manuals and computerised CBT. Workshops will allow opportunities to apply theory to practice with peers through role-plays. Teaching on this module will also improve students’ understanding of how bereavement policies and standards inform policy and practice and they will explore the role of compassionate communities for loss and bereavement. Queen’s Management School will deliver a specialist lecture on leadership networks, challenges and styles. Framing based on structural, family, political and symbolic leadership approaches. Exploring how groupthink conditions impact on leadership style. During workshops, students will be supported to identify their own mentoring and leadership style within teams, organisations/communities.

Identifying and appraising evidence to inform practice and developing research
Students will be taught about the hierarchy of research evidence, how to develop a research question and how to conduct literature searches on relevant databases. This module will also teach students how to appraise articles using Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist tools. The students will be introduced to key components of planning and conducting a small-scale research project, including methods of data collection and data analysis.

People teaching you

Professor in Social Work and Programme Director


Teaching Times

There will be 4 days of teaching per module (alternate Wednesdays). 28 hours directed learning and 172 self-directed learning per module (200 effort hours per module).

Career Prospects

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), meeting all nine requirements.

Learning and Teaching

Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:

Information and Support

• Through Canvas, you will have access to clear information about the content and assessment of each module, with clear learning outcomes and teaching methods that make up the course.
• You will receive clear explanations of the realistic expectations placed upon them for elements of study and the nature of autonomous, directed, collaborative and supported learning.
• You will be provided with up-to-date information about the learning support available to them remotely.
• You will receive a schedule or timetable for the delivery of lectures and tutorials/workshops (i.e. timetabled activities) as well as required learning activities, or home work tasks, as well as how to access peer support.
• You will receive appropriate training and learner support in the use of computing facilities (i.e. Canvas, MS Teams, QSIS, plagiarism detection software) as appropriate.
• You will have an identified contact (i.e. tutor and programme director) together with clear arrangements for contact (via email and phone)
• You will be provided with opportunities for inter-learner discussions to facilitate collaborative learning.
• You will have access to well-being services at QUB, and be able to register with student disability services for assessment and support, as required.


Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

There are no examinations. Assessment is based on continual assessment of coursework, e.g. assignments, online discussion form tasks, presentations, role plays and a back yard research project.
All students must maintain a reflective log/diary throughout each module, with time for critical reflection and peer support built into the afternoon workshops/tutorials for each module. This reflective log will not be formally assessed.




The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2022/23). 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.

Entrance requirements

Applicants must hold a Bachelor Honours Degree in Social Work or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, or Master’s Degree in Social Work (min 60% pass mark) or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Work or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, a Certificate in Social Service (CSS), or a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW).

Applicants must:
- Be registered with the NISCC, CORU or appropriate professional social work registration body.
- Have at least three years post qualifying social work experience or two year’s experience in addition to the Assessed Year in Employment (NI applicants) by the date of commencement of the programme.
- Be employed in a social work post that includes working with people who have palliative care needs.

Application for Recognition of Prior Learning is not applicable to this programme.

Technical Requirements: A requirement for registration is that participants are computer literate and have reliable internet access and access to a computer, which will be assessed at interview.

Closing date: Friday 16th June 2023 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.

INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Career Prospects

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care is aligned to the Specialist Award in Social Work via the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), meeting all nine requirements.

Additional Awards Gained(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Prizes and Awards(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

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 £4,654
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,654
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £5,573
EU Other 3 £12,733
International £12,733

1 EU 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 are for the academic year 2023-24, and 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

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.

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.

Download Postgraduate Prospectus