Routes into social work

Open University

This route provides support to Norfolk County Council employees (on a permanent contract and who have been with us for at least one year) who would like to be able to continue to work in their current job while taking part in a social work qualifying programme through the Open University (OU).

We offer support in the form of paid time off for practice placements for any of the OU’s social work qualifying routes, allowing our employees to continue working and earning while studying. We'll provide and arrange both practice placements. This offer is open to both part-time and full-time employees.

You will need to self-fund the course fees and will be expected to complete most of the academic study in your own time. However, this flexible, distance learning option may be ideal for you.


BA (Hons) in Social Work - This route takes 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time. The programme starts in October or February, but you will need to start in October if you would like to complete it in 3 years.

MA in Social Work - This route takes 2 and a half years. The programme starts in February and is made up of three modules. The final module, Transforming professional practice, includes a ‘guided enquiry’, which is similar to a dissertation.

Post-graduate Diploma in Social Work - This route takes 17 months. The programme starts in February and is made up of the first two modules of the MA route, but without the final module.


  • You need to have worked for us for at least one year at the time of application
  • You will need to have a permanent contract with us
  • You will need to have at least one year’s experience of working directly with children, young people, families, carers, or adults in need of care and support. Ideally this experience would be in your current role, but some could be in a voluntary capacity.
  • If you work part-time, you will need to be able to attend placement at least 4 days per week during the two practice placements
  • You will need to meet the OU entry requirements for your chosen route
  • You will need to be able to fund the course fees and other costs associated with the course

Funding options

Flexible payment and funding options are available to help with fees. However, please note that students doing the Post-graduate Diploma route are not eligible for a post-graduate loan. This is only available if you are doing the full MA route.

How to apply

You must apply for OU social work qualifying programmes through your employer. You cannot apply directly to the OU.

Request support from Norfolk County Council by completing an expression of interest form. The application window is open in spring/early summer each year.

If your request for support is successful you will be asked to complete the OU application pack and will be invited to a selection day, which will include an interview and written assessment.

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