Skip to Content

Social Work with Children, Young People and Families (PGCert)

PgCert|Postgraduate Taught

Social Work with Children, Young People and Families

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Part Time)
Places available
30 (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    The modules that make up the Social Work with Children, Young People and Families programme are designed to meet the continuing professional development needs of social work staff working across the Child Care sector.

    The programme presents opportunities to study a range of areas relevant to practice with children, young people and families, with three modules focusing broadly on
    • Advanced Knowledge, Theory and Methods
    • Promoting and Safeguarding the Welfare of Children and Families
    • Enhancing Outcomes for Children in State Care

    Teaching is informed by current research and evidence, and students are encouraged to apply the learning to their particular professional contexts. Working with practitioners from a range of settings affords a creative and challenging opportunity for learning and the sharing of ideas and approaches for best practice with children, young people and families.

    Students can access modules individually and accumulate academic credit points towards an award, affording the flexibility to work within your own time schedules.

    Successful completion of two modules leads to the PG Certificate in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families.

    Please note that this course is not eligible for a Tier 4 visa.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 29 July 2022 at 4pm. Late applications may be considered.

    Social Work with Children, Young People and Families highlights

    The programme is only open to qualified social workers and responds to the needs of its students with updated, current and evidence-based information which will enhance their educational experience through vibrant and interactive learning pathways.

    Professional Accreditations

    • The programme has been accredited by the Northern Ireland Post-Qualifying Education and Training Partnership and offers a professional award at the specialist level.

    Industry Links

    • For social workers, the programme reflects the Department of Health policy in relation to social work and social care training and development (The Personal Social Services Development and Training Strategy, 2006-16), including links with the Northern Ireland Post-Qualifying Education and Training Partnership’s professional requirements and awards.

    Career Development

    • Professional Development The programme offers relevant CPD opportunities for social workers 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 staff who contribute to the Programme have developed and nurtured their subject proficiency in relation to their specialist areas via their own practice, teaching and research. Teaching draws on current research and relevant theory and supports students as adult learners to share knowledge and to apply it to their own practice context.
    “The three modules of the Social Work with Children, Young People and Families programme provide great opportunities for experienced practitioners to learn together, sharing their knowledge and enhancing their practice to support best outcomes for children and families.”
    Professor Danielle Turney, Programme Director
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    The MSc in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families is a modular Master’s programme. Students enrol on a part-time basis and they must also be currently engaged for at least 12 hours per week in a capacity in which core social work values underpin their practice with service users or carers.

    The Postgraduate Certificate is awarded to students who successfully complete taught modules amounting to 60 CATS points.

    Course DetailsCore Modules (40 CATS points each)

    You may choose two from the three core modules which can also be taken as standalone modules:
    SWK8055 Advanced Knowledge, Theory and Methods
    Child and family social work engages with children and young people experiencing some of the most challenging issues arising from, for example, loss and change, trauma, the effects of neglect and/or abuse and other factors that can impact on their development and well-being across the life-course These difficulties must be understood within the context of parenting and environmental factors and it is here that theories of childhood and parenting come to the fore in enabling social work practitioners to understand and explain complex behaviours. Moreover, it is vital that practitioners can draw on methods of intervention that research has shown to be effective in addressing these difficulties in childhood. Throughout all of this practitioners need to reflect critically on their practice, making informed, reasoned decisions in the interests of the child.

    SWK8056 Promoting and Safeguarding the Welfare of Children and their Families
    This module attempts to explore the practice knowledge, skills and values that are congruent with policy in relation to both promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and families. It recognises the reality of day-to-day practice imperatives arising from service user and carers’ needs and the risks impacting on children and families. It takes as its starting point a strengths-based approach in which formative social work processes including negotiation, partnership and advocacy, are combined to identify and target need and ameliorate disadvantage through social support. However, the reality of risks to children, from carers and wider social influences, are also acknowledged within the module in terms of a concerted examination of risk assessment and management. In all of this, there is a need to equip child and family social workers with specialist knowledge and skills, including messages from research, so that they can engage effectively with the complex processes inherent within the informal and formal systems surrounding the child.

    SWK8057 Enhancing Outcomes for Children in State Care
    The majority of children entering state care do so following difficult experiences, often including abuse and neglect, in their birth families. It is imperative that the subsequent care experience not only ensures the safety of these children but also provides compensatory care to enable them to achieve the optimum emotional, social, health and educational outcomes. Historically, outcomes for children in state care have been poor, both in absolute terms and in comparison with those of their peers in the ‘non-care’ population. Improving outcomes has been the focus of recent government finance and policy initiatives and some, but not sufficient, improvement has been achieved. Further improvement will require an increase in the quality and quantity of placements across a range of settings, an increased understanding of the importance of this issue on the part of child care professionals in a range of disciplines, and an ability and willingness to work collaboratively across disciplines.
    This module meets a demonstrated need, and will fill a perceived gap in the accredited training offered to all child care workers at the Post Qualifying level. It will enable all child care workers, not just specialist child placement and residential workers, to explore the practice, knowledge, skills and values underpinning effective child placement leading to improved outcomes for children and young people in state care.

    People teaching you

    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Module Convenor (SWK8057)

    Module Convenor for SWK8057

    Professor of Social Work and Programme Director

    Module Convenor for SWK8055 and SWK8056

    Professor of Social Work

    Teaching Times

    Each module consists of two four-day blocks of teaching from 10am to 4pm each day, supported by additional private study.

    Career Prospects

    Continuing professional registration in social work is predicated on continuing professional development. The Dept. of Health has directed that social workers demonstrate their competence in a range of area and these are addressed in the curricula of the Social Work with Children, Young People and Families programme.

    The three modules can be taken as standalone modules (each earning 40 academic credits) but can be combined to achieve either a Postgraduate Certificate in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families – which requires successful completion of two of the modules; or a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families – which requires successful completion of all three modules. Candidates can then go on to complete the MSc in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families by completing a further Dissertation module which earns an additional 60 academic credits.

    A candidate who completes two modules will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Social Work with Children, Young People and Families but will also have achieved six of the requirements for the NI Specialist Award.

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:


    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, as appropriate, 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:

    A variety of assessment methods will be used, including written assignments, observations of practice, projects. SWK8055 includes a reflective analysis of how the student applies relevant theory to their practice in two different cases and an assignment critically reflecting on how the student has enhanced the practice of colleagues drawing on the knowledge in this module. In two of the modules (SWK8056 and SWK8057) assessment will involve direct observations of the student’s practice, in addition to the submission of a written assignment designed to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes relevant to each module.


    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.

    Explore the teaching and social spaces in our School through our 360 Virtual Tour:

    The Graduate School

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Equivalent qualifications include the Pre-2007 Post-Qualifying Award in Social Work. Where this is not met, applicants must demonstrate that their experience and qualifications enable them to undertake study at postgraduate level through the uptake of references and through completing a written assignment.

    Please note that this programme is only open to applicants who are working as Social Care Professionals within NI/UK.

    Applicants must also possess a social work qualification recognised by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, be registered with the Council and should normally have two years post-qualification experience practising with service users or carers in a social work setting (including the Assessed Year in Employment where appropriate). All applicants must be currently engaged for at least 12 hours per week in a capacity in which core social work values underpin their practice with service users or carers.

    It is important that Social Work applicants include their NISCC Social Care Registration Number in the Additional Information section of the application form.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 29th July 2022 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)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £2,217
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £2,217
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £2,490
    EU Other 3 £6,067
    International £6,067

    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, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    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 2022-23, 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.

    Social Work with Children, Young People and Families costs

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

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 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 £10,609 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

  • Apply

    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 a prospectus