Mental Health Officer Award

PgCert Mental Health Officer Award

This online PgCert Mental Health Officer Award ensures you are trained and assessed to the highest of standards through strong partnerships with a range of key stakeholders. Local authorities are centrally involved in the course design, delivery and management in order to ensure that their responsibilities under legislation are addressed and the training course remains fit-for-purpose.

As a Mental Health Officer (MHO) you will assess individuals experiencing mental disorder who may need compulsory measures of care and treatment. The role carries considerable autonomy and responsibility, and involves working alongside medical and legal professionals in order to safeguard the health, safety, wellbeing and rights of people.

This course has one study option

Mode of Attendance

  • Online Learning

Mode of Study

  • Part Time

Start Date


Course Length

1 year

This is a 60 credit course set at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 11, with modules occurring sequentially: Mental Wellbeing and Mental Disorder, Adults with Incapacity and Mental Disorder - Offenders, Young People and Families.

You will gain the knowledge, skills and practice experience to exercise the civil powers and duties of the MHO within the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, and Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and guidance pertaining to mentally disordered offenders and children, young people and families. You will take full account of the interface with related legislation and guidance within the relevant policy and procedural contexts, and critically analyse and evaluate your learning and practice with individuals, families, carers and significant others when undertaking your role.

An important element of the course is a 3 day teaching block, based around a day of simulated practice, whereby professional actors, advised and supported by a mental health user group, play out roles. This enables students to practise acquired skills, with support from practitioners and staff.



Modules and delivery order may change for operational purposes. The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our course and module disclaimer for more information.

Detailed module information

Activity Summary

The course takes approximately a year and is undertaken on a part-time basis. The expectation is that students will undertake approximately 600 hours of study across all elements including practice elements.

The average number of students is about 15. Teaching is mainly in lecture format, though there is a three day teaching block which focuses on simulated practice and there are practice elements, undertaken in the students own workplace.

How long is a Mental Health Officer Award course?

This Mental Health Officer Award PgCert can be successfully completed part-time in 12 months.

Staff Delivering on This Course

The teaching on the course is mostly provided by RGU-based staff who have considerable expertise and direct experience working in Mental Health Officer services. Another major contributor to the course is employed on a sessional basis and has considerable experience working with local authority and the Scottish Government in developing processes related to the Mental Health Officer role. In addition, there is teaching from external providers including service users, Carers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and representatives of regulatory bodies. The practice element is overseen by local authority Mental Health Officers with considerable experience in this role.


Typically students are assessed by:

  • 6 written assignments, including essay
  • 3 practical skills assessments


We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in for all written exams, coursework and practical exams.

Independent Study

A significant portion of this courses is underpinned by independent learning, and you will be expected to be responsible for managing your coursework, reading and other learning activities appropriately.


Academic Support

The Inclusion Centre advises and supports students who disclose a sensory or mobility impairment, chronic medical condition, mental health issue, dyslexia and other specific learning differences. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a pre-entry visit to discuss any concerns and to view the facilities.

Online Learning & Support

All undergraduate and postgraduate students, whether you are learning on campus or by online learning, benefit from using our collaborative virtual learning environment, CampusMoodle. You will be provided with 24/7 online access to your learning material and resources, along with the ability to interact with your class members and tutors for discussion and support.

Study Skills Support

The Study Support Team provides training and support to all students in:

  • Academic writing
  • Study skills (note taking, exam techniques, time management, presentation)
  • Maths and statistics
  • English language
  • Information technology support

Library Support

The Library offers support for your course, including the books, eBooks, and journals you will need. We also offer online reading lists for many modules, workshops and drop-ins on searching skills and referencing, and much more.



The work-based experience element of the course is undertaken in your workplace. A Practice Assessor is appointed by the relevant local authority for you. The Practice Assessor ensures learning opportunities are made available throughout the course and provides an assessment of your practice, which contributes to the overall assessment of your work. In the North of Scotland the local authority partners are Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Highland Council, Moray Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Job Prospects

Completion of this course will allow you to work as a Mental Health Officer. The MHO Award attracts 60 academic credits which could be used towards a range of other courses, though none are specifically linked. Many who successfully complete the MHO Award go on to promoted posts as the core skills are very much transferable to management, such as the ability to work independently, critical analysis, effective joint working and managing complexity which are seen as good management attributes. Social workers practising in mental health teams are usually expected to have this qualification so employment prospects are also expanded.


What is needed to study PgCert Mental Health Officer Award?

The course is specifically designed for social work practitioners with at least 2 years post-qualifying experience who are nominated by their local authority employers to train as Mental Health Officers. You will remain in employment throughout the course. 

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no component lower than 5.5, or an equivalent.

We accept a variety of in-country and secure English language tests, find out more:

Please note, some courses may require a higher standard of English than stated in this page. Contact for further information.


This PgCert Mental Health Officer Award course has the following tuition fees:

For Academic Year 2022/2023

  • All Students - £2,110

For Academic Year 2021/2022

  • All Students - £2,050

Additional Costs

The following course-related costs are not included in the course fees:

Student Funding

Postgraduate students will normally make their own arrangements for payment of fees. However, there are a limited number of SAAS funded places on certain postgraduate courses.
There are also sources of funding that are applicable to categories of student.

Alumni Discount

Robert Gordon University is delighted to offer a 20% loyalty discount on course fees for all alumni who have graduated from RGU.

Scholarships and Financial Awards

You may also qualify for a scholarship or financial award:


For new intakes course fees are reviewed and published annually for each mode of delivery. Tuition fees are fixed for the duration of a course at the rate confirmed in the offer letter.  For further information see:


Have a question about the course or how to apply? Get in touch with the course leader who will be delighted to help.

Get in touch

Taking this course, you will have access to some of the world's best facilities. 

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