PG Dip Professional Social Work Practice – Step Up to Social Work

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Train as a social worker, on campus and out on placement, on this accelerated postgraduate course. Places are fully funded by the Government.

Professional Social Work Practice student Noel

"Step Up to Social Work has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. I was setting a new career where I could use skills I had developed in previous roles as well as using the learning from my undergraduate degree.

"The course teaching is of a high standard and, while this is an intensive course, there is a great deal of support, as well as extensive overight of your experience while on work placements. This was vital for me as I had never worked within social care before, yet I feel fully prepared for the start of my new career in social work."


Step Up to Social Work student

Applications are now closed for cohort 8 of Step Up to Social Work.

As the course is funded by the Department for Education, we cannot guarantee that the course will run again in 2026.

We do not accept late applications, so please explore our other postgraduate Social Work routes if you missed the deadline.

Step Up to Social Work is a Government-led initiative to encourage graduates with related experience to enter the profession to work with children and families.

It’s validated by Social Work England, so you can register as a social worker when you graduate.

ARU’s Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Social Work Practice – Step Up to Social Work is an intensive 14-month course. You’ll be taught by passionate, knowledgeable tutors and practitioners on our Cambridge campus and gain hands-on experience on placement.

Course options

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Key facts

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Entry Requirements


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Fees and Paying for University

Facilities and accreditation

Small group of Social Work students studying together

Outstanding student support

As a Step up to Social Work student with ARU you’ll benefit from:

  • bursaries provided by the Department for Education
  • 170 days on placements, identified by us to develop your skills and interests
  • enhanced support that’s specially tailored for students on this intensive course.
Social Work England logo with the words 'this course is approved by Social Work England'

Social Work England

Our Professional Social Work Practice - Step Up to Social Work course is approved by Social Work England, so you can register as a social worker when you graduate.


Completing the ARU Professional Social Work Practice – Step Up to Social Work postgraduate diploma will enable you to register and practise as a social worker.

With this qualification you’ll be able to work in a wide range of settings including local authorities, housing organisations, voluntary and private sector projects, schools and health settings.

While the aim of this course is to train you to become a social worker with children and families, its broad content gives you the versatility to be able to consider other options. For example working with adults, people with mental ill health, learning or physical disabilities, those who have committed criminal offences, who misuse drugs or alcohol, or who live in communal settings.

Graduation doesn’t have to be the end of your time with us. After completing this course, you can opt to take an additional dissertation based module and gain a full Masters degree in Social Work at ARU. This element is self-funded.



"Step Up is a fantastic course. You will learn lots, build upon the skills you already have and be fully supported throughout the journey."


Step Up to Social Work student

Application information for PG Dip Professional Social Work Practice – Step Up to Social Work

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