Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Specialty)

This programme is designed for those who want to broaden their Bachelor of Social Services degree with a second specialty or add a focused specialty to another degree. This diploma will enable you to gain a vocational specialty by working with clients and studying professional practice and theory.

About the programme

Want to add a second speciality to your existing social services (or related) degree or further enhance your professional practice? 

The demand for qualified individuals in the community services will remain strong as the world faces a growing and ageing population, and a general increase in social problems. 

Our industry-relevant programme will give you the knowledge and training you need to specialise in Career Practice or Health and Wellbeing Practice – broadening your opportunities to work across the social services fields. 

Through industry placements, you’ll gain valuable real-world experience by working with people in a supervised setting - preparing you for entering the workforce. Plus, you’ll build a network of contacts in your specialist area, great for future employment options! 

You’ll graduate with a high level of self-awareness and the communication skills to engage a diverse range of people. Career options are diverse and you’ll be able to access opportunities within relevant fields both within New Zealand and overseas.

Studying part-time 

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer this programme part-time over three years.

Choosing a speciality

Career Practice

Career opportunities include:

  • Government agencies
  • Youth organisations
  • Disability services
  • Liaison services
  • Schools
  • Human resources. 

This specialty is a great choice if you’re keen to help people understand what career would suit them best and to support people to realise their full potential through employment. 

You’ll explore things like career transition (people moving from one job to a very different one), career matching theories (how individuals have skills and attributes that ‘match’ them to a career) and supporting people with job search strategies. You'll also learn to apply career management theories in your third year as you develop your practice. 

With guest speakers and case studies, you’ll have plenty of chance to develop your ability to work with a diverse range of people and to understand how best to engage and support them. You’ll discover how to use local and national networks, resources and organisations relevant to career practice, and will gain knowledge of the relevant legislation (e.g. Privacy Act, Employment Relations Act). 

If you choose our Career Practice specialty, you’ll have the chance to work as a Career Guide in the Otago Polytechnic Career Success Centre - set up to provide a career service to all students. You'll offer advice and assistance to students with the full support of our lecturing staff and professional career practitioners. Other placement opportunities include youth related work, community learning centres and volunteer organisations. 

You'll graduate with a Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Career Practice).

Health and Wellbeing Practice

Career opportunities include:

  • Mental Health Assistant
  • Support Work
  • Health Education and Promotion
  • Community Development Work
  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Mental Health/Disability Advocation. 

Organisations are increasingly offering strength-based services to their clients across both the mental health and disability fields. In addition, there has been a growth of generalist support roles in the health and wellbeing areas.

This specialty will ensure you develop a broad scope of practice in line with this contemporary approach to social service support provision, positioning you well to enter the workforce. It’s underpinned by mental health and disability theories and models, which includes exploration of community-based approaches. 

You’ll learn how to use local and national networks, resources and organisations to provide referral pathways and will gain knowledge of the relevant legislation to work with people within health and wellbeing practice (e.g. Privacy Act, Health and Disability Act, Human Rights Act, Mental Health Act, and Children’s Act).    

You'll graduate with a Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Health and Wellbeing Practice).

Courses

You’ll focus on gaining knowledge in your chosen area of specialisation and this will build on the concepts and knowledge you developed during your entry qualification. By undertaking a work placement, you’ll gain real-world experience and build a great network of contacts for when you enter the workforce.

Career Practice courses 
Course name Description Level Credits

Contemporary Issues in Career Practice

 

Investigate and develop expertise in significant and challenging areas of contemporary career practice. Broaden your knowledge and helping strategies by examining key issues and their impact on career development. 

6

15

Theory for Practice A (Career Practice)

 

Gain the knowledge and skills required to articulate a theoretical value base for your chosen specialty area, and select and apply models, tools and skills suitable for work in this area in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

6

15

Integrated Practice A (Career Practice)

 

Develop the skills, knowledge and experience to become a reflective practitioner who is able to work in a way that is values based, safe, informed and intentional in providing support in your chosen specialty context. 

6

 

15

 

Working as a Dual Practitioner 

 

Integrate your theory and practice across your two professional domains. The first will be the specialty you have already undertaken and the second is the specialty you’re focusing on now in the Graduate Diploma. 

7

 

15

 

Theory for Practice B (Career Practice) 

 

Further develop your understandings of the underpinning theories, research and models of practice relevant to health and wellbeing practice, career practice and counselling. Build on the skills and strategies which inform your practice and further develop a framework which supports safe professional practice. 

7

 

30

 

Integrated Practice B (Career Practice)

 

Engage in further supervised practice with clients within community placements, and participate in individual, small group and peer supervision of your integrated practice. Demonstrate your application of theory into practice and your ability to meet the membership requirements of relevant professional bodies. 

7

 

 30

Health and Wellbeing Practice courses 
Course name Description Level Credits

Addictions, Substance Use and Co-Existing Problems*

 

Explore an overview of substance use ‘addictions’ and co-existing problems and develop useful and culturally appropriate responses for helping people address these problems.   

6

 

15

 

 OR

Negotiated Study*

Your chance to carry out research (investigation and evaluation of information) into a topic of interest in the field of social services.

 

6

 

15

 

Theory for Practice A (Health and Wellbeing Practice) 

 

Gain the knowledge and skills required to articulate a theoretical value base for your chosen specialty area, and select and apply models, tools and skills suitable for work in this area in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

6

 

15

 

Integrated Practice A (Health and Wellbeing Practice) 

 

Develop the skills, knowledge and experience to become a reflective practitioner who is able to work in a way that is values based, safe, informed and intentional in providing support in your chosen specialty context. 

6

 

15

 

Working as a Dual Practitioner

 

Integrate your theory and practice across your two professional domains. The first will be the specialty you have already undertaken and the second is the specialty you’re focusing on now in the Graduate Diploma.

 

7

 

15

 

Theory for Practice B (Health and Wellbeing Practice)

 

Further develop your understandings of the underpinning theories, research and models of practice relevant to health and wellbeing practice, career practice and counselling. Build on the skills and strategies which inform your practice and further develop a framework which supports safe professional practice. 

7

 

30

 

Integrated Practice B (Health and Wellbeing Practice) 

 

Engage in further supervised practice with clients within community placements, and participate in individual, small group and peer supervision of your integrated practice. Demonstrate your application of theory into practice and your ability to meet the membership requirements of relevant professional bodies. 

7

 

30

 

*If you have previously completed the Addictions, Substance Use and Co-Existing Problems course (or an equivalent), you'll complete the Level 6, 15-credit Negotiated Study course instead.

Further study options

You could increase your career prospects with postgraduate study at Waikato, Massey or Auckland universities.

A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.

Disclaimer

While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.