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Transforming professional practice

This module comprises a guided enquiry which develops your knowledge of a particular field in social work practice and leads to recommendations for improvement in your personal/work based context. During this module you will undertake an investigation of both evidence and experience. Enquiry focuses on one of three possible improvements within practice skill, service delivery or system development. You will explore the most effective means to disseminate the best practice that you have discovered, through publication, presentation at conference, preparation of a consultation paper and the making of a case for change to others.

Vocational relevance

This module is relevant to a wide range of social work and social care practice: if you are already or wish in the future to engage in project-working with others, if you are charged with leadership and change agency roles, if you hope to innovate in practice or if you aspire to coach or advise others in their professional development. The module will also assist those working overseas, and in the voluntary sector (beyond the statutory provision in social work or social care).


KXK829 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

Scholarship involves a demonstration of your ability to enquire, design, analyse, debate, argue and recommend in ways that demonstrate rigorous thought and a good command of issues and information. You will need to demonstrate what you already know and do, and advance a vision for further improvements that benefit the beneficiaries of your social work improvement activities (e.g. people who use your service). To help you achieve this, you are led through five study blocks of work during the one-year module:

  • Enquiry, conception and design
  • Review of relevant evidence
  • Analysing experience
  • Reviewing progress
  • Making the case to others.

Your enquiry will be based on an investigation of existing data and as a series of disciplined practice reflections and discussion, reviewing literature and discourse with colleagues interested in social work practice improvement (personal and collective experience). Your review will be drawn from your day-to-day practice and discussions with colleagues. This module will rely on your heightened skills of speculative reflection and debate associated with work that you conduct with others, rather than a delivering a research project. It will be necessary therefore to select an enquiry that relates closely to your day-to-day practice and to engage in reflection at a deeper level than you may currently be accustomed to. The study guide will instruct you in the relevant techniques to enable this. Working in this way, and combining what you learn from your review of evidence with current experience, you will be assisted to make a coherent case for improvement. Your enquiry may draw on your previous postgraduate work relating to practitioner research if this remains relevant to your current practice; or you may choose to study something different.

You will need to be well organised, focused and consultative in order to meet the assessment deadlines and complete your enquiries alongside other professional work. You will work on study blocks Review of relevant evidence and Analysing experience in parallel.

Your work for this module will be more self-directed than in any of the earlier modules you may have studied, but you'll continue to have access to a study group and a tutor to help shape your enquiries over the coming year. You'll work with your tutor to plan your enquiries and need to update them regularly on your current activity.

You will learn

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • systematically conduct enquiries in the literature, reflections on your own practice and local contexts, making appropriate records of your learning in ways that demonstrate scholarship
  • disseminate your knowledge and skills in ways that are relevant to the development of practice now and in the future
  • present clear observations, arguments and conclusions about your chosen aspect of practice, so that others could either replicate or build on your scholarship
  • defend the advancement of practice within your enquiry, making the case to an appropriate authority.

You'll also gain a range of transferable skills that include the ability to:

  • work collaboratively
  • manage uncertainty
  • translate concepts into practice
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems
  • utilise information technology
  • retrieve, interpret and utilise data (qualitative and quantitative), information and evidence.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Although the study guide provides detailed guidance on the scholarly activity associated with this module and the online resources guide you on the different ways of formatting work for dissemination, you will work closely with your tutor to:

  • identify and focus your chosen enquiry
  • evaluate what the evidence review has taught you
  • examine and refine reflective practice techniques
  • make arguments based on supporting information
  • formulate a case.

You'll have access to informative and engaging live online tutorials covering module related subjects and learning support, over a range of dates and times. We aim to record all online sessions to enable students the flexibility to access these at a convenient time.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments. The end-of-module assessment must also be submitted online.

The tutor-marked assignments and the end-of-module assessment constitute an exhibition of your enquiries those that illustrate disciplined powers of reflection and analysis.

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Transforming professional practice starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021, the last year it will be available for study.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    It is a requirement that you have:
    • a degree (FHEQ Level 6 / SCQF Level 9), conferred by a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body
    • successfully passed Developing social work practice (K832) and Advancing social work practice (K833) 
    • access to a setting related to social work practice 
    • spoken and written English of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.
    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    Work designed to focus your plans on an appropriate aspect of practice should be conducted at the start of the module and with the guidance of your tutor. You'll benefit from considering aspects of social work practice that you have explored in previous study that lend themselves to further enquiry.


    Start End England fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 £2210.00

    Registration closes 09/09/21 (places subject to availability)

    October 2021 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Transforming professional practice starts once a year – in October.

    This page describes the module that will start in October 2021, the last year it will be available for study.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access.

    The module texts and dedicated website will enable you to complete your enquiries and prepare work that you can share with others.

    Computing requirements

    You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

    It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook, however, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.