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Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care

This certificate explores ideas about what social work is. You'll use case studies with children, older people, mental health communities, children with disabilities and people with learning disabilities to apply learning to practice contexts. It also builds key skills in information and communication technologies, digital and information literacy and reflective writing.

Key features of the course

  • Considers the nature of social work and social care, and encourages you to apply learning to practice
  • Uses real-life case studies to aid learning
  • Builds key skills in information and communication technologies, digital and information literacy and reflective writing
  • Potential first step towards an honours degree in social work

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, the certificate of higher education is also equivalent to the first third of an honours degree.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Certificate

Certificate

  • Widely recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first third of an honours degree.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Shows that you can study successfully at university level.
  • Count it towards further qualifications such as a foundation degree, DipHE or honours degree.
Course code
T39
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
120
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Full time – 1 year
Time limit – 7 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This certificate of higher education has one stage, comprising 120 credits.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll investigate the organisation of social care in the UK and of the different components of good social work practice, through real-life case studies. Key concepts around communication will open up your thinking about how professional ‘practice’ is informed and underpinned by theory, and you’ll make connections between your studies and your own personal and professional experience.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions
  • face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and producing diagrams and screenshots
  • finding external/third party material online
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. 


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this certificate, but you will need to be working within or have access to a social care agency – for example, through voluntary work.

Note that you’ll need to organise and complete a minimum 10 day period of verified practice learning in a social care setting which ideally will involve shadowing a qualified social worker. This practice experience must be verified, and may require you to obtain and pay for a Disclosure and Barring Service check. If you are already working in a social care setting your employer may help you organise this practice experience but please note that they are under no obligation to do so. You will also be required to participate in compulsory online workshops and tutorials. You should take all these points into account before registering for this qualification.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is either:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including psychology, childhood and youth studies, health and social wellbeing, sport, education and social sciences.

View full details of Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

Fees and funding in England

80% of our students pay nothing upfront by financing their studies with a student loan.

In this section:
Tuition fee
What are my funding options?
Other costs to think about
Additional support

Tuition fee

Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care

Years of  study

1 year 2 years

Current fee per year in England

£6,456* £3,228*

How we worked out the cost

A degree is worth 120 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 60 credits per year for 2 years. A degree is worth 120 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 120 credits per year for 1 years.

Total fee for qualification at current prices

£6,456*

You’ll fund your modules as you study them – you won’t have to pay for your whole qualification up front

That’s 1/3 less than the cost of an equivalent qualification offered at most other universities in England.

See comparison table

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.


What are my funding options?

There are several ways to fund your study, often without paying anything upfront.

Student loan

The most common way for our students to fund their study

  • A student loan is used by 80% of our students.
  • Open to everyone – it’s not means-tested and there’s no age limit.
  • You don’t pay anything upfront. Student Finance England pay your fees directly to the OU for you.
  • You won’t pay back a penny until you earn over £27,295.
  • The amount you repay is tied to how much you earn. For example, if you earn £29,000 you’ll pay just £12.79 per month.

Other options

Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA)

Repay in monthly instalments while you study.


Credit/debit card or bank transfer

Pay before each module starts. You can also combine card or bank transfer payments with other payment methods.


Employer sponsorship

More than 1 in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer.


Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs)

If you’re a serving member of the British Armed Forces (or you’ve recently left), you may be eligible to use ELCs to cover up to 100% of your course fees.

Which funding options could I be eligible for?



Other costs to think about

Your course fees cover your tuition, assessment and study materials, but there are still a few additional costs that can come with studying. If you’re income is less than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you could get help with some of these costs after you start studying.

  • You’ll need a computer and internet access for online resources and tutorials.
  • You may need to pay for travel to face to face tutorials if you choose to attend these during your course.

Additional support

You may be eligible for:

  • help with study-related costs like travel to tutorials, set books, and internet access
  • a free introductory Access module to build your confidence and skills
  • funding to study an OU qualification for free from our Carers’ Scholarships Fund if you are, or have recently been, an unpaid carer
  • a Carers’ Bursary towards study-related costs if you provide unpaid care to a friend or family member
  • a Care Experienced Bursary of £250 towards study-related costs if you’ve previously been, or are currently, in care
  • a Sanctuary Scholarship to study an OU qualification for free if you’ve been displaced from your homeland for political, economic, ethnic, environmental, or human rights pressures
  • funding from our Scholarship for Black Students to study an OU qualification for free if you identify as being from a Black background

If you have a disability

  • The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a government grant to cover study support costs if you have a disability. It’s not means-tested, and there’s no age limit. Visit our Supporting students with disabilities page to find out more.
  • If your disability is a result of being injured in, or due to, military service, you could be eligible for our Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund.

Need more information?

Talk through your funding options with one of our advisors

Contact us

How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.


Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials

Tutorials throughout the course could be online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Assessment

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.

Exams

  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance.
  • Most exams take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location.
  • If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description, and you will be required to take your exam in person at one of our exam centres.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

Skills for career development

In addition to specific understanding and skills around health and social care, this certificate will build your confidence by steadily developing and enhancing your study skills – including digital and information literacy and reflective writing – and a range of essential employability skills in areas such as communication, IT, problem-solving, planning and organisation.

Career relevance

The modules that make up this certificate also form the first year of the BA (Honours) Social Work (England) so if you're considering a career in social work, it provides an excellent introduction.

Please note that this certificate does not give automatic entry to the social work degree programme (for which you must attend an interview and meet specific entry requirements. These include minimum academic requirements in maths and English and working in a social care setting, where your employer will be required to enter into an agreement with The OU to support your practice learning). However, if you do subsequently gain employer support and entry to the programme, you'll be able to count your certificate study towards your degree.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that most careers will require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • Social worker
  • Care home manager
  • Probation officer
  • Prison officer
  • Lecturer
  • Adult guidance worker
  • Advice worker
  • Careers adviser
  • Charity officer
  • Community development worker
  • Equality and diversity officer
  • Counsellor
  • Health promotion specialist
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth worker.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 08/12/2022

Request your Health and Social Care prospectus

Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

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