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Study Social Work at Unitec in Auckland, New Zealand. Apply now at

Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice

Our Applied Practice suite is designed to help social workers, counsellors, and community development practitioners advance their skills in a variety of social practice situations. Further your ability to work with individuals, whānau, and communities, and transform your practice in ways that enhance social justice and reduce inequalities for communities.

60 (1.0 EFTS)
Start dates
February or July
1 semester full-time, or 1 year part-time

Programme overview

Please note: This programme does not lead directly to professional registration. It’s designed primarily for qualified and registered professionals who are currently working in the sector in various disciplines, including social work, counselling, community development, and other allied fields. 

This programme provides a professional development opportunity for you to update and extend existing skills and knowledge in your current workplace. You’ll identify existing issues related to your sector, and learn research methods that can be applied in real-world settings through reflective practice and academic study.

You’ll be able to remain professionally current by critically engaging with research practice through Te Tiriti o Waitangi and indigenous approaches. These foci will ensure that you can confidently pursue culturally responsive applied research.

Upon completion, you’ll be able to add value to your organisation by employing advanced applied research skills, and the qualification will also enable you to demonstrate this ability to employers and other industry stakeholders.

  • Advance your practice and contribute to your profession by learning how to conduct work-relevant research and projects;
  • Ideal for those with practice-based skills who want to develop their personal and professional development competencies or learn how to validate their practice skills and ideas through research;
  • Engage in contextualised self-reflection;
  • Analyse relevant social policies and social discourses to create opportunity and empower individuals, groups and communities;
  • Improve communication across disciplines and cultures within changing environments;
  • Taught by highly experienced lecturers with roles in community and national organisations;
  • Flexibility: choose full- or part-time study to fit in with your professional practice.

Once you’ve successfully completed this programme you’ll receive the qualification of a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice  and If you’d like to continue studying, you can progress to the Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice). Progressing students can transfer their credits, so the Masters will only be an additional 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time).

The key difference between this programme and the Masters is that this programme teaches you how to conduct applied research in your industry, whereas the Masters gives you the opportunity to actually conduct this research as part of your studies.


Admission requirements

Academic requirements:

For this programme, you will need the following:

  • A Bachelor's degree or Level 7 Graduate Diploma in the same or similar discipline;
  • To demonstrate an ability to succeed in the programme by providing evidence of successful outcomes you've achieved in a work environment;
  • A minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in reading, 4 in writing).

Please note: A phone or face-to-face interview may be required as part of the application process.

English requirements:

If English is not your first language you will also need one or more of the following:

  • Have achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University entrance;
  • Be able to provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency;
  • Have achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years.

If you don’t meet the English criteria above, we have a range of English Language programmes available, depending on your current level of ability.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still apply under special admission.

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses, please click on the course names below. Please note that our systems are updating with new course timetable information for 2024; please check back again soon.

Courses Credits Aim
Applying Research to Practice (CISC8000) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to critically examine and contextualise practice and develop a critical understanding of how indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness, society, ethics, environment and law inform practice.
Community Informed Applied Research (CISC8001) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) To develop the student to be able to critically examine and evaluate a body of literature in relation to a practice/work-based issue to arrive at a relevant and informed research question(s) and to contextualise and understand the relevance of this question to practice and the wider community
Courses Credits Aim
Applied Research Proposal (CISC8002) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) Enable a student to engage industry and community relevant to discipline and then begin to create feasible and well-defined research questions as well as determine the most appropriate research method or range of methods to address these research questions.

Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga

On 1 October 2022 Unitec became part of Te Pūkenga. Find out more about Te Pūkenga and what this means for you.