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Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care - Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are described in four areas. Within these four areas we emphasise achievable outcomes for students who have chosen the Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care and who are learning at a distance and in the workplace.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this certificate, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • issues and trends in modern public and social policy, and their relationship to contemporary practice and service delivery
  • social processes such as racism, poverty, poor health and other sources of disadvantage, and how these are associated with processes of marginalisation, risks of crime and exclusion
  • competing explanations for the characteristics and circumstances of people who use services and for the range of perceived needs, including psychological and physiological
  • the roles and significant inter-relationships between a range of services, including social services, education, housing, health and criminal justice
  • the significance of interpersonal and sociocultural factors in the delivery of human services in a diverse society
  • codes of practice, the regulation of professional conduct, practice guidelines and the values underpinning them.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this certificate, you will be able to:

  • gather information from a wide range of sources, taking account of different views and being able to analyse and evaluate critically
  • consider and evaluate specific factors relevant to practice, such as risk, rights, identity and vulnerability.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this certificate, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the ethical basis of social work and the underpinning values of social work practice
  • have knowledge of the theoretical basis of social work and apply this to practice
  • work within the legal framework for practice
  • work in partnership with users and other professionals
  • practice critical self-reflection and engage in professional development.

Key skills

When you have completed this certificate, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


You will be able to:

  • communicate effectively with individuals, groups and organisations, in a range of formal and informal situations
  • present information and arguments verbally, in writing and using electronic communications, in a structured form that is logical, coherent and appropriate to the audience
  • gather, select and manage information from a wide range of sources and in a variety of ways, for a range of purposes. These methods should include electronic searches using the internet, use of electronic databases, reviews of written materials and face to face, written and telephone contact with individuals and groups.

Information technology

You will be able to:

  • use information and communication technology at a level equivalent to the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
  • use information and communication technology methods and techniques for a variety of purposes including professional communication, data storage and retrieval, information searching and resource management.

Learning how to learn

You will be able to:

  • manage your own learning through the identification of learning needs, objective setting, monitoring progress by critical reflection, identifying strengths, weaknesses and areas to improve, and responding to feedback.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Core knowledge and understanding are acquired via the use of specially prepared distance-learning materials, including specially written study materials, learning guides, reference texts, web-based resources with integrated audio and video material. Assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning, and you will be required to complete scheduled assignments, which may take the form of essays, case studies and so on.

Cognitive skills are promoted by the critical approach of the prepared texts and other resources. You are encouraged to develop your own skills through the materials and workshops. As you progress, you will be expected to demonstrate a capacity to describe and articulate key understandings, then to examine, evaluate and compare different accounts and competing evidence. These skills are assessed through the assignments.

Key skills development and assessment will be established through OU level 1 modules, with ICT skills being particularly prominent in order to lay down a foundation capability for using ICT to develop further information literacy and learning skills in later modules. The first module assumes that you are new to degree level study and offers carefully paced and structured support in developing study skills and basic information handling and communication skills.

Teaching will be delivered via study materials in print and online and will include workshops. Each workshop will include participation in activities to develop the ability to understand key concepts and develop practice skills. Written assessment will require demonstration understanding of the theoretical basis of social work and how this applies to practice. It will be necessary for you to show an ability to reflect on your practice.