Postgraduate study

Advanced Social Work Studies (Mental Health Officer Award) PgCert

Awards: PgCert

Study modes: Part-time

Funding opportunities

This programme is the postgraduate qualification for qualified social workers wishing to practice as mental health officers (MHOs). It has been designed and delivered in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and twelve local authorities in the East of Scotland.

The programme focuses upon the role of the MHO in relation to relevant Scottish legislation.

Under Section 32(2) of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 (the 2003 Act), local authorities have a statutory duty to appoint MHOs to undertake mandatory responsibilities, enshrined in legislation, currently:

  • the 2003 Act
  • the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000
  • the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995

The programme also prepares MHOs to integrate knowledge of other relevant legislation, including:

  • the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007

Its primary aim is to provide the Advanced Social Work Studies - PgCert Mental Health Officer Award in partnership with the East of Scotland MHO Award Partnership.

It comprises four taught courses and two periods of assessed MHO practice.

The programme comprises twenty taught days over two semesters, delivered through a combination of face-to-face and online learning.

You will undertake two periods of assessed MHO practice (37 and 32 days respectively), which are organised and supported by your employing local authority.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgCert1 YearPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

In line with the Scottish Social Services Council’s standards for MHO Awards, you will be required to demonstrate relevant extensive critical knowledge and understanding across the four learning areas of:

  • mental well-being and mental disorder
  • powers and duties
  • collaborative working in relation to roles and organisations
  • assessment and management of need, care and risk

You will also be required to demonstrate competence in:

  • The appropriate skills to be consolidated and developed
  • The integrated ethical and professional approach required of a registered social worker
  • The specialist professional practice which must be competently demonstrated and assessed

The programme is unique in that you will be employed by your sponsoring local authority but the Advanced Social Work Studies - PgCert Mental Health Officer Award allows you to practice as MHOs and thus widens your career opportunities both with your current employers and across the Scottish local authority sector.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, or a recognised qualification in social work and at least two years' relevant experience in social work practice.

If you are a qualified social worker but you do not hold a degree-level qualification, you may ask for special consideration when applying.

You must be employed, supported, and seconded by one of the 12 employing local authorities within the East of Scotland MHO Partnership catchment area.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgCert1 YearPart-timeTuition fees

Each successful applicant will be sponsored by their employing local authority who will pay all programme fees and relevant expenses.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 31 August 2021

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

Interested applicants should make initial enquiry to their own employing local authority, who, in turn, will undertake its own selection procedure and make nomination to the MHO Award admissions group. Applicants nominated to the programme by their employing local authority will meet the requirements of the SSSC Standards Framework for the MHO Award.

Once the local authority's nomination has been verified, the applicant will be advised to apply through the University's online application system.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD