This certificate of higher education has one stage, comprising 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.
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
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 successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
- Adult guidance worker
- Advice worker
- Careers adviser
- Charity officer
- Community development worker
- Equality and diversity officer
- Health promotion specialist
- Volunteer coordinator
- Youth worker.