BA in Professional Social Care (Disability) – Level 7

This degree programme will prepare social care workers for CORU registration. Focusing specifically on the disability sector, the three-year, part-time/open learning degree provides participants with the skills to work effectively within the rapidly evolving disability services sector. After completing it, you will be able to deliver better services to the people you support.

Professional Social Care Graduates in Ireland
Professional Social Care Graduates in Ireland

At a Glance

  • Audience Unqualified Social Care Workers; Care Assistants (Health, Social Care); SNA’s; people interested in a career within disability services
  • Award Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability) (7M20216)
  • Format Blended
  • Model Part Time/Open Learning
  • Duration 3 Years
  • Award Type QQI/HET Level 7 (Major Award)
  • Credits 180
  • Apply ByJune 30th, 2019
  • Informal Interviewsend-May, 2019 (first of 3 dates)
  • Start DateSept, 2019
  • Fees €3,480 per annum – inclusive of Protection of Enrolled Learner (PEL) insurance cost (Quarterly instalment plan available)

Why Choose the Course?

The Degree Is Specifically Designed for People Working In The Disability Sector

The course is exclusively aimed at people working in disability services. It was created by people with extensive first-line experience who fully understand the area and the problems that come with attempting to balance work, life and learning when you work in it.

It Is Entirely Practical

It is an applied programme dealing with real world challenges. The choice of course materials is determined by the needs of people employed in the sector. They are dealt with from the perspective of someone working in the disability arena and their relevance/quality is determined by the ways in which they can be applied to, and improve, everyday practice.
Similarly, our assignments tackle issues that you are likely to face in the workplace. While you are completing these you will have access to our expert tutors and a community of people who are almost certainly trying to deal with the same issues. As such, successfully completing the course will provide you with a unique opportunity to address real-world challenges and improve the quality of service your organisation delivers.

The College is at the Heart of the Sector

We work in partnership with over 220 organisations from the human services and non-profit sector. Together we ensure that the Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability) always reflects:

  • The current regulatory and public policy environment (including HIQA, New Directions and the challenges posed by the new Assisted Decision Making legislation)
  • The issues driving the sector, and
  • Contemporary best practices for managing them

We are a Student-Centred College

The degree is designed to accommodate the pressures and responsibilities that you face. Its mixture of workshops, tutorials and online learning will allow you to balance your work, life and college commitments. Remember; our active learning community (made up of students, tutors and learning support staff) is always there to support you as you learn.

The College is a Formally Recognised, Award Winning Institution

The Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability) is a level 7 Award on the National Framework of Qualifications. The programme is accredited by QQI.  It is also designed specifically to facilitate continuing professional development and allow access to the soon to be launched CORU’s social care professional register.

What Will I Learn?

The course content is based on:

  • Our expertise in the disability and broader social care area
  • International best practice
  • Current legislation and policy
  • Ongoing feedback from course participants
  • Input from graduates, professional bodies, regulatory bodies and service users

This is reflected in the choice of learning objectives, course materials and the award winning approach that has been developed to deliver the course.

Professional Social Care (Disability) learning objectives

Learning Objectives

After completing the course you will:

  • Possess a detailed understanding of the services, systems and regulations that affect professional social care practice
  • Understand the various roles of the social care professional in pan disability services
  • Be able to explain the central importance of human rights and social justice in pan disability contexts
  • Know how to use a range of research, enquiry and analysis methods to investigate social care issues
  • Have the critical and analytic skills required to investigate, understand, and solve problems that arise in professional social care settings
  • Know how to accurately, objectively and sensitively record information relating to service users in a way that complies with current legal, quality and ethical regulations and requirements
  • Be able to work in inter-professional contexts and make substantive contributions to collective decision-making
  • Have the ability to reflect on personal practice, and recognise and address the limitations of your current knowledge, skills, and competencies
  • Know how to engage in self-directed practice and key work with service-users, groups, communities, families
  • Know when to seek professional support/guidance when performing your role
  • Be able to take responsibility for safeguarding and protecting service-users
  • Understand the professional and ethical commitments of being a social care professional

Course Content

Year One

The first year of the course provides a detailed introduction to the person centred approach to working with persons with pan disability. During it you will begin developing the core competencies required to use it. During the year you will also acquire the skills needed to successfully complete a third level degree.

  • Learning and Development in Higher Education
  • Exploring Disability
  • Communications 1: Communication & Interpersonal Skills in Social Care
  • Policy & Legislation in Social Care 1
  • Social Care Practice 1: Focus on the Individual (Person Centred Planning)
  • Professional Practice 1: Social Care Practice & Ethics

Year Two

The second year concentrates on developing the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to provide innovative, person centred supports for service users within a rights based, empowering, quality driven environment.

  • Psychology 1: Lifespan Development & Transitions
  • Psychology 2: Learning Theories & Teaching Strategies
  • Policy & Legislation in Social Care 2
  • Social Care Practice 2: Empowerment & Advocacy
  • Communications 2
  • Professional Practice 2: Quality & Risk in the Context of Regulation (for example, HIQA)

Year Three

The final year of the programme concentrates on the specific social care skills required to deal with practitionership issues that arise from supporting individuals with disability in a rapidly changing environment. It also provides an opportunity to further develop your formal research and analytic skills to critically investigate disability issues from a range of perspectives including the service user, organisational, societal and policy viewpoints.

  • Social Research Methods
  • Psychology 3: Wellbeing & Positive Behaviour Supports
  • Social Care Practice 3: Exploration of Relationships, Self & Sexuality
  • Social Care Practice 4: Working with Families
  • Active Inclusion

You will also need to select one of the following modules as part of your study:

  • Supporting a Person Within the Autistic Spectrum
  • Supporting a Person in Mainstream Work


Professional Social Care Students

How Will I Be Assessed?

The course is assessed through a combination of assignments, online activities, written examinations and in-class assessment.

It is an applied course so you must be working at least 10 hours per week in an appropriate work environment.

Promoting best practice in services is integral to the College’s mission. As part of this, we place particular importance on encouraging students to apply what they are learning – as they are learning – in their professional environment. Therefore, our learning materials, workshops and assessments are practical in nature. A significant proportion of assessment marks, for example, are allocated to applying what you learn in real-world settings.

What is it Like to Study with Us?

We Are All Part of a Learning Community

The course uses a ‘blended’ approach. Each module combines online learning, tutorials (telephone, online, virtual) and face to face workshops. Learning materials are explicitly designed to accommodate the pressures that come with trying to balance work, life and learning. They make it possible to build study time around your work schedule.

Regular online tutorials will expand your knowledge of the topic and answer any questions you have as you study. Each one-day seminar focuses on how the module topic is impacting the sector, will deepen your understanding of the subject matter and help you apply it in your working practice.

Underpinning all of this is our learning community. This is made up of tutors who have extensive first-line experience, learning support staff who understand the human challenges people can face when attending college and our students who are defined by their commitment to supporting each other. We believe this creates a learning experience that is unique to the Open Training College, one that meets the specific requirements of people working in our sector and improves the quality of service our users receive.

This is known as the Supported Open Learning Model. You can read more about it here.

Meet Dr Noelín Fox – Course Director

Dr Noelín Fox, Course Director

Making the decision to embark on a degree, particularly when you are an adult learner, can be a difficult one? What concerns do people generally have?

From talking to our students, their concerns usually come down to one, or more, of three things:

  • They worry about the value of starting a course. Courses have to be practically relevant to their current role but it also has to provide a platform  for future develops.
  • They have concerns about the level of support they will receive when they go to college and that doesn’t mean just academic support either. They want to know they will have the personal support that is particularly important for adults to get though a course.
  • They worry about  being able to balance work, life and learning commitments because it can seem overwhelming.

How do you help deal with this?

From day one, our goal is to encourage people to apply what they learn in their work, as they work. We place particular emphasis on helping people to develop the ability to analyse and learn from their own experiences and to work out ways to do things better, for themselves, by applying what they learn. As well as demonstrating the practical relevance of the course, this is a really important step in building their confidence and you can see the changes as people realise just what they are capable of.

Encouraging students to take control of their education is one of the fundamental principles we embraced when we created the course materials. They are designed to allow people organise and plan their study around their work and life commitments. That doesn’t mean it’s easy (!) but we do make a real effort to make it as simple as possible to balance work, life and learning.

We are obviously there to support our students every step of their academic journey but I believe understanding and helping with the personal challenges of taking on a course are in many ways as important as the academic support. That is why we believe so passionately in our learning being student-centred and put so much effort into building a learning community for our students. We support and learn from each other.

How do you think students benefit most?

They become more aware of their critical importance to delivering a person centred service. They become more innovative in meeting the individual needs of people they support which leads to a better quality of life for the people they are working with.

Meet Michelle Coe –  Social Care Graduate

Why did you choose to study with the College?

The College was recommended to me by a colleague so I attended the Open Day event. I immediately knew the college’s approach to social care education was for me; it has been designed specifically around disability services and the teaching is current and relevant.

Being an accredited course, it allowed me to use previous qualifications gained and I was able to go straight into Year Two, using the advanced entry system. Apart from recognising previous work undertaken, it has also saved me time and money!

What has your experience of the College been like?

It has been pleasantly surprising in how much I have embraced learning and, right from the beginning, I’ve  found it useful in my day to day work.

Professional Social Care Graduates in Ireland

The tutors are extremely knowledgeable and they also have direct experience within the field.  Their practical examples are excellent teaching tools. Not only has it had a positive impact on my practice, but I have also been able to share knowledge with colleagues, directly benefiting the people we support.

I would definitely recommend the college’s social care programmes to anyone who is considering furthering their education.

How Will the Course Enhance My Career Prospects?

Successful completion of this course will allow you register as a social care worker with CORU. The registration board has been formed for Social Care and the consultation over the processes and mechanisms for registration as a social care worker are at an advanced stage.

Opening Up Other Career & Educational Opportunities

Social care workers can also specialise in a variety of areas after taking further study. Previous students have specialised in areas such as social work, community work, addiction supports, mental health workers and quality management. Completing the course, for example, will entitle you to take to the Honours Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability)) at Level 8 (NFQ), subject to meeting entry requirements.

Being a social care worker means you could progress your career through to management, by becoming a social care leader or a person in charge in disability services. The College provides a route to do this by allowing graduates of this programme progress to a Level 8 Honours Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability) that promotes advanced social care practice and innovative new services after they have completed this course.

How Do I Apply?

Applications for this course are accepted through our Online Application Centre. To apply for the degree, you will need to:

  • Satisfy the entry requirements for the programme
  • Provide a range of documents to support your application
  • Submit a personal statement explaining why you want to apply

What are the Course Entry Requirements?

To apply you must:

  • Be either 23 years of age when you apply, or
  • Have successfully completed a Leaving Certificate/QQI/FETAC Level 5 Certificate.

All applicants must be employed or volunteering in a service for people with disabilities for at least 10 hours a week.
International Applicants must provide appropriate documentary evidence of proficiency in English (i.e. IELTS 6.0).

Transferring from Another Course

People who want to take advantage of our advanced entry system, which allows you use previously gained academic qualifications to gain specific exemptions, must have completed a Level 6/7 cognate* qualification to 60 credits (NFQ) or more in Social Care or Social Studies within the last 10 years. Visit the advanced entry page to find out more process.
* A cognate qualification is one that is similar in nature, content and quality to the course being applied for.

What Supporting Documents Will I Need?

You will need to provide us with a range of documents as part of your application. These are:

  • Proof of identity. Common examples included scanned copies of a driving license or passport (for international applicants).
  • Employment Validation: Formal confirmation that you are working for more than 10 hours a week in a qualifying service is required. Please use the employer validation form we have provided for download below.
  • Volunteer Form: You will need to complete a Volunteer Form if you are currently working as a volunteer. This is available for download below.
  • Educational Transcripts: These are copies of previous educational achievements that confirm you satisfy the course entry requirements. They could, for example, include a copy of your leaving certificate or a scan of a level 5 certificate. It is particularly important that applicants wishing to transfer from another course, or be considered for Advanced Entry, provide transcripts confirming they have completed a Level 6/7 course worth at least 60 credits (NFQ) or more in Social Care or Social Studies within the last 10 years.
  • Personal Statement: This document essentially explains why you want to take the course and how you see it helping you achieve your professional and personal goals. You can learn more about it below and download a simple document that will help you write it.
  • International Applicants: International applicants are required to provide documentary evidence of proficiency in English and eligibility to study in Ireland before beginning an accredited course. A document explaining why it is necessary and what documents are required for a successful application can be found below.

What is a Personal Statement and Why is it Important?

A personal statement briefly describes:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you hope to achieve in your career on both a personal and professional level
  • How you think the course will help you achieve your goals

Personal statements are particularly important for us when assessing individual applications. We believe in selecting students not just based on their previous academic achievements but on how a particular educational programme can help them achieve their personal and professional goals. Personal statements help us understand why you want to take the course and if it is the right one for you.


PLEASE NOTE: We’ve also provided a checklist to help with your application. We generally recommend you gather together all the documents you will require to support your application before you begin but our online application system will allow you add documents as and when you have them once you’ve begun submitting your application. You can learn more by visiting the Online Application Centre.

Start Making Your Application

All applications are processed through our application centre where you can:

  • Submit your application
  • Learn about what happens after you’ve made your application
  • Monitor the progress of your application


Visit the Online Application Centre.

A Special Note About Protecting Enrolled Users

 The Open Training College (OTC) has approval to offer students learner protection insurance in respect of Protection of Enrolled Learners (PEL) for this course. Find out more about PEL here.

How Can We Help?

Contact us if you want to know more about the course.

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