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Graduate Diploma in Work with Children and Families

The Specialist Award is the first level of the General Social Care Council's new post qualifying framework. All social workers working with children and families will be encouraged to undertake a specialist level award that seeks to promote the specialist knowledge, skills and values required to work at a post qualifying level.

Key facts

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Course Graduate Diploma in Work with Children and Families (with Specialist Award in Social Work)
Qualification Graduate Diploma
Duration 1 year PT
Typical entry requirment
A qualification in social work
Course mode Part time
Partner Institution(s)
Course director and email address
Liz Hudson (l.hudson@rhul.ac.uk)

Most applicants are funded for this course by their employers but some choose to fund themselves.  The cost for the 3 Core Specialist Modules is £2,250.  Students will also need to have their practice assessed whilst on the course by a qualified practice assessor.  The practice assessor is usually appointed by the employer of the applicant and may make their own payment arrangements but it is recommended that a fee of £805 should be paid for this work if paying a practice assessor directly.

Why choose this course?

Central to the philosophy of the Graduate Diploma in Work with Children and Families (with Specialist Award in Social Work) is the values of social work and an explicit adherence to the principles of anti-oppressive practice. Practitioners will be required to critically evaluate their intervention and demonstrate the capacity for reflexivity.  Underpinning the approach of the programme is the view that critical reflection and reflexivity are essential skills if practitioners are to take responsibility for their own practice and continuing professional development.

The three specialist courses seek to balance formal teaching with learning processes that facilitate the application of ideas and critical reflection to complex and advanced professional issues.  Formal teaching seminars will enable practitioners to engage with research and theoretical frameworks and Child Observation, Group Work and Case Presentation Seminars will enable these ideas to be applied to the practice context.  The linking of research evidence with case material, particularly cases drawn from candidate’s caseloads will assist the development of research mindedness.

What you’ll learn

The three specialist courses are:

  • The Developing World of the Child. This course gives a comprehensive overview of current child development theory and research. It will look at theories of emotional and identity development, attachment, childhood resilience and how direct work and child observation can be used to support effective assessment and interventions with children and their families. It is taught in partnership with the Tavistock Centre.
  • Legal, Theoretical and Policy Frameworks. Post qualifying child care social workers are working in a fast evolving policy and organisational context in which they will need to have a strong sense of their professional identity that transcend traditional social work roles. This course will update candidates’ knowledge of relevant law and look at themes emerging from child welfare policy and their relationship to theoretical frameworks that underpin their practice.
  • Promoting Positive Outcomes for Children with Additional and Complex Needs. This course will build on the previous two courses and apply the knowledge to children with specific needs. This will include children whose parents have difficulties such as substance misuse, unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees and disabled children. Areas of practice such as supporting adoptive and fostering placements, permanency planning and youth offending will be considered in this module with the aim of helping candidates develop both a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of child care social work practice

The three courses will be assessed through essays. The candidate will also be required to produce an assessment of practice, completed with a practice assessor that will seek to test their capacity to integrate theory, values and practice.

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Career opportunities

The Graduate Diploman in Work with Children and Families qualifies graduates for careers in statutory and voluntary social work. Qualified social workers can continue their professional/academic development through taught post qualifying programmes or research opportunities within the Department. It is also a solid basis for further academic research and training such as a PhD.

Entry requirements

Typical offers

Previous qualifications

To be eligible for the specialist course candidates must hold a qualification in social work and have obtained either PQ 1 in work with children and families or successfully completed the Graduate Diploma Consolidation course either at Royal Holloway or another university. For further details of the Royal Holloway Consolidation Modules available, please contact Liz Hudson on l.hudson@rhul.ac.uk

Alternative entry requirements


English language requirements

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7 in writing for non-native English speaking applicants

Applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and we accept a broad range of qualifications. Students from overseas should visit the international page for information on entry requirements from their country.

Additional requirements

 All students must be currently involved in practice or management work in a social care or health setting.

How to apply

Applications can be made via the Training Department of your employing agency or via Liz Hudson at  l.hudson@rhul.ac.uk.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.



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