Funded study opportunity: Mental Health Officer Postgraduate Certificate

Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership invites social work colleagues to apply for this year’s funded Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Social Work Studies, delivered by the University of Edinburgh.

The Postgraduate Certificate is an opportunity for qualified social workers within Falkirk’s Social Work Services interested in taking the next step in their career development, towards practice as a mental health officer.

The SCQF level 11 certificate is only available to social workers employed by local authorities or health and social care partnerships, and helps fulfil Falkirk Council’s legal duty to support the recruitment of Mental Health Officers.

About the programme

The programme, delivered part-time by the University of Edinburgh, comprises four courses and two practice placements which are taught over one academic year.

The course starts with a two-day induction in mid-October, followed by the first course, which begins in December. It introduces some of the key issues and current thinking in the field of mental health and encourages students to take a critical look at subjects and concepts including mental illness, psychiatric diagnoses, recovery and contemporary developments in mental health law.

The subsequent three courses are structured around the main statutes that frame the MHO role, namely: the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003; the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995; and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.

Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership will support successful applicants to be released from their substantive role and duties while undertaking this course, usually across a period of 6 months.

Watch: An intro to MHO

Lisa’s story: Becoming a Mental Health Officer

Watch Lisa’s story below to find out more about becoming a Mental Health Officer, and why she chose to undertake the training.

Alan’s story: Undertaking the MHO course

Watch Alan’s story below to find out more about the course and placement.

Application process

There are two stages to the application process:

  • Stage 1 – Apply for sponsorship from Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership. The deadline for this stage is June 2023.
  • Stage 2 – Apply to the course with the University of Edinburgh. The deadline for this stage is August 2023.

Staff should discuss their interest in the programme with their line manager, who can support you to gain sponsorship and complete an application.

Learn more – Drop-in sessions at Woodlands

To discuss how this course may be suitable to you, or to learn more about the role and career opportunities, drop-in staff sessions will be held at Woodlands Resource Centre, Westburn Avenue Falkirk FK1 5SU.

  • Thursday 16th March, 10am – 12pm, ask for Charlene Watson on arrival.
  • Monday 20th March, 2pm – 4pm, ask for Charlene Watson on arrival.

Further information about the course is available on the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science website. If you have any queries, please discuss with your line manager or email


How is the course delivered?
The course is delivered part-time by the University of Edinburgh. Successful applicants will be released from their substantive role and duties to take part in the course. The course combines four taught modules and two practical placements.  Modules utilise online teaching and learning, with programme material and live/recorded lectures made available using the University of Edinburgh’s virtual learning environment, called Blackboard LEARN.
How is the course assessed?

The programme is made up of 4 courses which are assessed as follows:

  • 10 credit courses (x2): assessed by academic essay based on a case example
  • 20 credit courses (x2): assessed via student’s critical analysis (3,000 words), law exam, and placement report.
What career opportunities will this certificate provide?
The 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.