Professional Qualifying Training.

How to Qualify in Social Work

The Diploma in Social Work
The Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) is the United Kingdom's professional qualification for social workers. There are approximately 100 hundred DipSW Programmes running throughout the country. The DipSW is awarded by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as they have responsibility for regulating Social Work education.

DipSW programmes are run in partnerships between Universities/Colleges and social work employers and must be approved by SSSC. In most cases DipSW courses are linked to a separate academic award made by the College or University where the student is studying. Examples of these awards would include; a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE); a BA in Social Work; or a Post-graduate Diploma. This means that the academic qualifications required to enter a DipSW course will vary depending on the academic award to which it is linked.

The associated or linked academic award will also have an affect on the length of the total course. Most courses are full-time and when studied alongside a non-graduate (e.g. DipHE) or post-graduate (e.g. PGDip.) award will last two years. When studied in conjunction with an undergraduate course (e.g. BA in Social Work) they will last around 3-4 years.

Demands of Training
Social work training is particularly demanding due to the mix of academic teaching and practice placements. Students will spend a minimum of 130 days on placement within social work agencies during the course of their studies. Such placements can be block (i.e. 5 days per week) or run concurrently with teaching at their College or University. This combination means that the amount of formal course hours is high in comparison to many other courses.

Because the DipSW is a professional qualification and because of its placement component, courses will select candidates not simply on academic criteria. Suitability for social work is a primary consideration. As a result, many courses will expect students to have relevant work experience, either in a paid or voluntary capacity. The need to protect vulnerable members of our society, with whom social workers work on a daily basis, means that students' declarations of convictions and the carrying out of checks of criminal convictions also feature in this process. This does not mean that having a criminal conviction would debar you from social work training. The nature of any offences and honesty in declaration are two important concerns.

Course Details
The admission requirements of courses, both in terms of academic qualifications and work experience will vary across the country. The Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) in conjunction with the Social Work Admissions System (SWAS) produce a booklet each year that provides details of all DipSW courses in the UK. The booklet is called, How to get into Social Work, and is available direct from SWAS/UCAS for 8.50. The distribution department can be contacted on 01242-544610 (Monday to Friday 9am -5pm) - they accept credit cards or cheques!

DipSW courses in the West of Scotland
Details of the courses in the west of Scotland are also available on this web-site. Click on the links below to find information on the courses at:

Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow University

Paisley University

Strathclyde University

Equal Opportunities Statement
The West of Scotland DipSW Programme is particularly interested in encouraging applications and expressions of interest from prospective students from minority groups (e.g., candidates from ethnic minorities; disabled candidates). We believe it to be important that the diverse nature of the wider population is reflected in the social work profession. The West of Scotland Consortium is currently exploring, along with existing DipSW students, the possibility of establishing a Black Students' Forum and a Mentoring scheme for Black Students. Following a recent one-day workshop, Disability and Social Work Education, the Consortium is looking at ways of improving its work with disabled students.

AP(E)L or Advanced Entry Arrangements
Many Colleges and Universities have arrangements to credit prospective students for previous learning or substantial relevant work experience that can allow them to be exempted from parts of the DipSW or linked academic awards. These vary and details are best obtained direct from Colleges and Universities. More information on the West of Scotland DipSW scheme.

What all the schemes currently have in common is a requirement laid down by SSSC that prospective candidates can only be invited to make an application under the AP(E)L arrangements once they have already been deemed suitable for a place on the relevant course. This means that a candidate would apply to a course and if accepted on to it could then be invited to seek advanced entry through the relevant course's AP(E)L arrangements.

West of Scotland - Access courses
If you do not have the relevant qualifications to apply for a place on the West of Scotland DipSW Programme you can apply for a preparatory Access course.

There are two Access courses run in the Glasgow area, one at Clydebank College and the other at Langside College. These courses are designed for people over 21 who, preferably, have some experience in the social care field in either a paid or voluntary capacity.

Courses normally start in late Summer. If you are interested in applying you should make contact with the Colleges in early Spring to find out about the application and selection process.

Details can be obtained from the admission tutors at:

Clydebank College
Department of Social Care
Kilbowie Road
G81 2AA

Marie Mowatt, Tel. 0141 952 7771

Langside College
Social Caring and Community Studies
50 Prospecthill Road
G42 9LB

David Macallan, Tel. 0141 649 4991

Student Funding
Arrangements for students studying as non-graduates or under-graduates are the same as for any non- or under-graduates.

Post-graduate students can obtain bursaries from SSSC and arrangements for this are normally managed by Universities who receive a quota of bursaries each year from SSSC.

Further Information
If you have a particular query that you think we might be able to help you with then you can contact us at enquiries

©West of Scotland Consortium for Education and Training in Social Work 2001.