MA in Safeguarding Adults: Law, Policy and Practice

Key Facts

Course Title: Safeguarding Adults: Law Policy Practice
Course type: MA, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Postgraduate Administrator
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Law


This Masters degree programme, run by the School of Law, is designed for social, legal, police, healthcare and other professionals working with adults. The course is specially designed so that it may be taken by those who are in full-time employment.

The central aims of the course are to update and enhance knowledge of relevant law and research literature as it applies to safeguarding adults in a variety of settings, and to provide an opportunity for experienced practitioners to further develop and critically reflect upon their skills.

It aims to promote anti-discriminatory practice, inter-agency understanding, and interdisciplinary working. The course also aims to develop research and analytical skills and to provide a foundation for pursuing further study at doctoral level. It is an interdisciplinary course comprising contributions from law, ethics, policy, practice, and health.

The course is taught by staff in the School of Law at Keele, as well as a variety of external guest lecturers. In recent years, we have welcomed a number of guest lecturers including Professor Suzy Braye, Dr Margaret Flynn, Alex Ruck Keene, and Professor Wayne Martin. 

Prospective applicants are very welcome to contact the Programme Director, Laura Pritchard-Jones , to discuss the course.

Aims of the Course

The aims of this programme are to introduce key principles of interdisciplinary socio-legal research methods and scholarship, facilitate the development of higher-level critical analysis, and develop the students’ capacity for original thinking in relation to the complex issues arising in socio-legal scholarship. More specifically, the programme aims to:

  • Develop a practical and theoretical understanding of safeguarding adults;
  • Develop a critical awareness of the social and political contexts in which adult safeguarding law and practice is located;
  • Develop a critical perspective in the assessment and evaluation of research, law scholarship, policy and practice in adult safeguarding;
  • Develop critical and analytical skills in order to interrogate practical legal problems and to justify decisions;
  • Develop the ability to work independently in a coherent, focused and productive way;
  • Encourage interdisciplinarity through the student experience – inter-professional student groups, learning and teaching provided by a range of academics, professionals and policy makers.

 The programme is structured in a way that allows students to maintain full-time employment while studying, with teaching for each module taking place over intensive 3 or 4-day periods.  The programme, therefore, is designed to appeal to both the ‘conventional’ postgraduate student and specifically, those already engaged professionally in this area of activity, in social work, health, the legal profession, or otherwise.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class honours degree in law, social work, healthcare practice (nursing, or medicine), or a related discipline such as criminology, sociology, or politics. Applicants who do not meet this requirement may still be eligible to apply for the course if they have appropriate professional qualifications and/or experience. Please contact the Programme Director, Laura Pritchard-Jones, for further advice.

Course Content

The programme is structured in a way that allows students to maintain full-time employment whilst studying, with teaching for each module taking place over an intensive 3 or 4-day period. 

 Students may choose to study from one to five modules per year and may complete the entire programme in one year or up to five years, depending on their preference and external commitments.

 To achieve the MA students will study four taught modules followed by a dissertation module.  As an alternative, it is possible to exit the course with a Postgraduate Certificate (on satisfactory completion of 2 taught modules) or a Postgraduate Diploma (on satisfactory completion of 4 taught modules).  A student must complete all four taught modules before proceeding to the dissertation module.

There are two compulsory modules:

  • LAW-40033 The Emergence of Adult Safeguarding, and
  • LAW-40032 Safeguarding Adults: Interventions.

These modules provide a foundation for the understanding of, and critical engagement with, adult safeguarding. They also introduce students to the research skills and critical analysis necessary for the successful completion of a Masters programme, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary socio-legal research methods.

Thereafter, students will take two further elective modules, usually:

  • LAW-40029 Mental Capacity and
  • LAW-40031 Safeguarding and Carers

Where the student has the required qualifications, they may elect to study the Best Interests Assessor module, also offered by the School of Law, instead of LAW-40029 Mental Capacity.

Students may also substitute either of these two electives for a module from another M level programme offered by the Law School. Availability of these elective modules will depend on timetabling but may include:

  • Equality, Discrimination, Minorities
  • Human Rights and Global Politics
  • Foundations and Principles of Child Care Law and Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Child Care Law and Practice
  • Children and Medicine
  • Looked After Children
  • Education Law
  • Introduction to Moral and Legal Concepts (in Medical Ethics and Law)
  • Autonomy and Paternalism (in Medical Ethics and Law)
  • Life, Death and Human Body
  • Healthcare, Justice and Society

Dissertation (60 credits)

The final form of assessment is the dissertation, which is an extended (15,000 – 20,000 words) in-depth piece of writing that brings together all of the skills that students have learned throughout the programme.

The dissertation module runs through the whole of the final year for students who are studying their MA on a part-time, and concurrently alongside the taught modules for students who are studying on a full-time basis. It is mainly comprised of personal study and research under the guidance of an individual supervisor. At the start of the year students will attend a research training day which is designed to equip students with the necessary research skills to plan, research, and write a dissertation.

Students select their own topic, with their titles being approved by the course team and external examiner. Assessment of the proposal and presentation is as a competency assessment.

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is based on coursework and a dissertation. There are no exams. Assessment of each taught module is by written assignment of approximately 5,000 words each. A choice of essay titles is provided for each block. For the dissertation, the emphasis is on independent research – there is a research methods assignment of 2,000 words formatively assessed, and a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The pass mark for all assessments is 50%.

The modules are taught through 20 hours of contact time, delivered as an intensive 3 or 4-day block of teaching.    

During the module, students will take part in tutor-led seminars and discussions, small group exercises, and case studies.  Each module is accompanied by extensive independent study and throughout the course students are encouraged and required to undertake independent reading to both supplement and consolidate the classes and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.   

All students receive initial guidance on how to identify, locate and use materials available in libraries and elsewhere (including electronic sources).  Guidelines are provided for the production of coursework assignments and dissertations and these are reinforced by seminars and individual supervision, which focus specifically on essay planning and writing, and research methodology.  Detailed written and, if requested, oral feedback is provided on all coursework.  
While away from Keele, between teaching blocks, students will benefit from directed reading, additional resources posted on the KLE (Keele’s virtual learning environment), together with a KLE-based discussion page for ‘virtual’ interaction between students. 
In the second module students will be required to commence work on their own reflective diary, to be maintained for the remainder of the taught modules and subject to regular review and discussion with the student's tutor. The reflective diary incorporates two key aspects:

1. A personal learning plan in which students review their achievements and update goals with a focus on development of a potential research topic for the dissertation.

2. A record of the application of knowledge developed through the course to the students own professional situation. The diary will be reviewed regularly in discussions with the personal tutor.

Additional Costs

Modules across the programme will include recommended core and supplemental texts.  Costs will vary depending on the particular text, but Law textbooks vary usually vary between £20-40. 

Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post graduate programme.

Zoe Batesmith (2014-2015):

"I would like to thank you (Professor Alison Brammer) for the excellent teaching on the first year of the course; plainly a great of effort and care has gone into ensuring that the content is both stimulating and comprehensive. Your knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject was obvious.  I have been left with a very favourable impression of Keele and the quality of teaching, especially in the interactive methods which enabled me to gain so much from the knowledge and experience of my co-students."

Vanessa Davies (part-time study - 2011-2013):

"Having worked with vulnerable adults for about 20 years, qualifying as a nurse 25 years ago, I've seen practices change and very often helped to influence those changes. I didn't really think I needed any other qualifications to help my career and then I saw the advert for the MA safeguarding adults, law, policy and practice, in the Community Care magazine. With no degree but years of experience I wasn't sure I'd be accepted or even, that I could do it, but I went for it anyway. Managing a very large nursing home, supporting a teenager through A Levels and doing the MA was very difficult, but I had lots of support both at home and at Keele.

The MA has had a huge effect on my career. Since graduating I've been appointed Safeguarding Lead for a large care provider, I've written and had published an article in Nursing and Residential Care magazine, I've been asked to write a further article and invited to sit on the advisory board for International Dementia Conference, I am convinced that none of this would have been possible without my MA. With the focus more and more on protecting vulnerable adults, I cannot recommend this course enough."

This is a sample of comments from other students on the SALPP course:

'Variety of subjects covered, excellent contributions from colleagues, interesting guest speakers, very professional co-ordination'
'This was a well put together MA, the combination of elements, ethics, law, social policy etc was such a strength- I know I have gained so much from the first year professionally and personally'
'Course leader has been excellently supportive - I can't fault her'
'Thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it highly relevant to my area of practice'
'I am very proud to be in the first cohort of the first MA of its kind in England'
'In general the course has been stimulating and thought provoking'
'Course content useful and very interesting, excellent handouts. Again lecture vs discussion good and the knowledge within the group assisted with learning'
'Great to examine and learn how to start critically analysing policy and again see how it links with legislation and practice'
'There has been some utterly fascinating discussion and debate, sharing practice experiences that I have totally enjoyed'