Social Work (Step Up) PgDip

Why choose this course?

The Step Up To Social Work programme is a Department for Education scheme. This intensive 14-month full-time programme is for applicants who do not have a social work degree and want to become a social worker.

You will receive a £19,833 tax-free bursary during the programme. The course requires you to complete 170 placement days of hands-on social work practice in a local authority whilst completing academic learning at the University. You will graduate with a postgraduate diploma in social work and will be able to register as a qualified social worker with Social Work England.

This course is in partnership with Achieving for Children ( Kingston and Windsor and Maidenhead), London Borough of Sutton, Surrey County Council, London Borough of Croydon, London Borough of Wandsworth and London Borough of Merton.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 14 months January 2024

Applications for the January 2024 intake are now closed. Information on how to apply for Step Up to Social Work and the fees and support for this course will be listed on the Step Up to Social Work website.

Main location Kingston Hill

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Through this course you will train to become a social worker in 14 months.
  • During the programme you will receive a £19,833 tax-free bursary.
  • The programme offers both hands-on learning and University-based academic learning.

What you will study

You will gain a thorough grounding in the theory and approaches which underpin the professional discipline of social work and develop the knowledge and skills to practise as a social worker.

Year 1

Year 2

In Year 1, you will develop your knowledge and skills to prepare for your first placement.

Core modules

Readiness for Direct Practice

30 credits

This module runs throughout the first year and focuses on readiness for direct practice. It is an interactive module which includes skills workshops and a high level of involvement from service users, carers and practice educators from partner agencies. You will learn about the role and tasks of social workers and develop professional skills in verbal and written communication. You will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on written work and on your communication skills. People with lived experience and carers provide simulated interviews in the Practice Learning Suite.

First Placement

30 credits

This module is a practice placement of seventy days, undertaken in an agency within the statutory or voluntary sector. We organise this placement for you, with the help of our Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership. You will be working alongside qualified social workers and social care staff, and provided with learning opportunities. You will be supported and supervised by practice learning staff in your placement setting. You will be expected to evidence your developing practice throughout your placement, which will be assessed against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).

Becoming a Social Worker

30 credits

This module is designed to provide a general introduction to social work theory, law and policy. The module will enable students to develop theoretical foundational knowledge of social work assessment and intervention, legislation and policy which underpin social work practice. Students will be introduced to key children and adult legislation alongside an introduction to safeguarding and assessing risk which will equip students with knowledge for their first placement.

Human Development and the Social Environment

30 credits

This module will enable you to gain an understanding of human development that is underpinned by the value of difference and diversity. A life course perspective will inform the content of the module, incorporating key theoretical frameworks and research findings. There will be a critical focus on the interaction of social, political, cultural, economic and environmental influences on people's lives. Ideas of normative development, including key milestones in childhood and adolescence, will therefore be underpinned by a critical understanding of structural inequalities, which may affect individual development and perpetuate the difficulties experienced by some groups and communities. Relevance to social work will be highlighted through case studies, targeted reading, and facilitated discussions. Experiential and reflective learning will be promoted through a structured child observation task and reflective seminars.

In Year 2, you will build on the knowledge and skills from your first practice placement and learn how to critically analyse social work theory, legislation, and research to inform social work practice.

Core modules

Second Placement

30 credits

This module is a final practice placement of one hundred days, undertaken in an agency within the statutory or voluntary sector. We organise this placement for you, with the help of our Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership. You will be working alongside qualified social workers and social care staff, and provided with learning opportunities to develop your autonomous practice. You will be supported and supervised by practice learning staff in your placement setting. You will build on your previous placement experience and knowledge, and continue to evidence your practice to meet the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the final placement level.

Advanced Knowledge for Social Work Practice

30 credits

This module builds on the learning from SW7047 (Becoming a Social Worker) and further develops critical understanding of law and social policy relevant to child and family social work, together with theories and methods to inform social work interventions. Students will gain an understanding of the thread between law and social policy and how decision making occurs within complex systems where social workers often face competing imperatives. Students will develop a robust awareness and nuanced understanding of theories and methods to navigate this practice terrain. This module will draw on both practice learning experiences (from students' first practice placement) and module material to develop the knowledge and skills required to work collaboratively while ensuring risk assessment, decision making, and interventions are informed by evidence.

Critical Analysis of Research, Ethics and Practice

30 credits

This module is undertaken alongside the final practice placement of 100 days enabling the integration of research and academic learning with placement learning and experiences. Drawing on students' current practice, this module enables students to further develop their ability to critically analyse how social work models, research, and theories inform planning, assessment, and interventions for ethical social work practice.

The assignments will assist students to evidence Social Work England Professional Standards (SWEPS) and the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the standard required for students at the end of their final placement.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

The minimum entry qualifications for the programme are:

  • a degree-level qualification in any discipline except social work from a UK higher education institute or an approved overseas equivalent
  • a minimum 2:2 level 6 degree qualification, for example, an honours degree or a graduate certificate or a postgraduate qualification (level 7 and above) for example, a masters degree or a postgraduate certificate/ postgraduate diploma
  • GCSEs in English or English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or the new grade 4 and above (or an approved equivalent)
  • Non-native speakers who do not have the equivalent of GCSE English at grade 4 (formerly grade C) or an equivalent (e.g. Functional Skills Level 2 Literacy) require an Academic IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent overall
  • a minimum of 6 months' full-time (or equivalent) direct experience of working with vulnerable children, young people and/or families/carers or adults, either in a paid or voluntary capacity
  • must reside in England
  • All applicants must confirm prior to interview that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet browsing and use of email.

A Home Office Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and clearance at enhanced level and a Self-Declaration of Health Status to confirm that the applicant does not have a health condition that would affect their ability to practise as a trainee social worker are also required for entry.

Admission with Recognised of Prior Learning (RPEL): Applicants offering prior qualifications and/or experiential learning may be exempted from appropriate parts of a course in accordance with Kingston University's mechanisms and policies for the recognition of prior learning and achievement. The Department's RPEL Advisor meets with all those who consider that they may be able to make a claim for RPEL and arranges a programme of support and assessment for applicants to help them make a successful claim.

For further details please read our academic regulations.


All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 7.0 overall with special conditions in all elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

If you require a Student Route visa to reside in the UK you may not be able to enrol on a part-time programme at the University. Kingston University has carefully considered the Student Route visa and has decided not to offer Student Route visa part-time study. Student Route visa sponsorship is only available to students studying on a full-time course.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

You will be learning through lectures, seminars and workshops with case studies and group work activities. You will develop your knowledge and skills through simulation activities in the Practice Learning Suite with people with lived experience and practice educators.

You will have two placements, supported by practice educators to enable you to reflect and critically analyse your practice through supervision.

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking and preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS – the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Year 1: 25% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.

  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 230 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time) and placement : 970 hours (nominal)

Year 2 : 75% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.

  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 104 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time) and placement : 796 hours (nominal)

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises essays, poster presentations and group presentations. Practice will be assessed by a portfolio of evidence of learning in practice including direct observation and reflection.

The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows: 

  • 55% coursework
  • 45% practical

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetables

For the majority of your teaching, you will be in the University four days a week for this intensive course. Placements are normally full time, Monday to Friday. At the beginning of your placements you will spend time in both placement and university.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 14 students and lecture sizes are normally 14. However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

Every member of the teaching staff has substantial practice experience in social work. In addition, many are actively involved in social work research, presenting regularly at conferences and publishing in books and journals. In addition, our course teams draw on the wealth of experience provided by our professional contacts and service users and carers who feed into the design of our courses and provide teaching and supervision to enrich your learning.

Course fees and funding

Fees for this course

Applications for January 2024 are expected to open in March 2023. Information on how to apply for Step up to social work and the fees and support for this course will be listed on the Gov.UK website.


Visit our Fees and funding page to find out about the student funding options available to help you fund your postgraduate studies. 

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting a course at Kingston, you will be able to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to study for a postgraduate masters degree. 

International students

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

Discounts for Kingston University alumni

Kingston University is pleased to offer a 10% discount on full-time and part-time postgraduate degree course tuition fees (including PGCE courses) to our alumni. Visit our Alumni discount page to find out more.

After you graduate

On completing the course you will be eligible to apply to the Social Work England to register as a social worker.

Employment opportunities are available in:

  • Children's services and family support
  • Community care and adult services
  • Adult/youth criminal justice services
  • Community, day, residential and health settings
  • Mental health, disability, learning disabilities, older adults, addictions, and forensic services
  • Portable social work qualification that you can use to work overseas
  • Post-qualifying programmes available

Good career development opportunities and post-qualifying training and awards are now an established part of the social work profession.

Links with business and industry

Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership

We provide social work education in partnership with a diverse range of local authorities and voluntary sector organisations called 'Developing Together'. This provides strong and mutually supportive relationships between the University and social work employers.

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.


Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residence. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.


Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Social Work Skills Lab

The skills lab is a purpose-built facility where social work students have the opportunity to learn and to practise key social work skills.

Social workers undertaking continuing professional development courses develop their assessment and intervention skills and other skills such as mentoring, teaching and providing reflective supervision.

What's available?

The skills lab is divided into several sections including:

  • a seminar/case conference room for a maximum of 20 people;
  • a simulated living-room and front door to assist in developing skills relating to home visits;
  • five interview rooms simulating work environments;
  • a control room with two-way mirror and viewing monitors; and
  • all rooms have fitted cameras and microphones so that activities can be recorded.

A flexible, creative space

The skills lab has been designed to be a multi-functional space which allows flexible use. The furniture is all portable and can be changed according to the simulated activities required.

The small rooms can be used for practising communication skills and simulating supervision sessions.

The large room can be used as a teaching or seminar room and can be set up as a simulated case conference room or duty desk.

Participants have the opportunity to engage in creative skills development activities and benefit from live supervision and feedback from the recorded material.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff are research active, often in partnership with NHS Trusts. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies.

Social work research activity focuses around several key areas:

  • risk and child abuse
  • children's rights
  • learning processes and partnership approaches in professional education
  • management of child protection systems
  • safeguarding adults
  • mental capacity
  • effectiveness of community-based responses to crime.

We conduct much of our social care research and consultancy either in partnership with or on behalf of the social service, voluntary sector and probation agencies.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.