ADSO offer two programmes for those working in Democratic Services: A Certificate in Democratic Services Knowledge and a Diploma in Local Democracy.

Certificate in Democratic Services Knowledge

Target Audience
The Certificate is aimed at those who already work in the Democratic Services area, including all Democratic functions such as meetings support, scrutiny, members support and civic support. They may be newly appointed (with a minimum of 6 months in the job) or want to get some recognition for their skills and knowledge learned ‘on the job’.  For more details about the Certificate in Democratic Services Knowledge download this brochure.

Guide to the Certificate in Democratic Knowledge March 2023

extension: pdf

Gaining the Certificate
Each learner will be assigned an assessor to support them through their studies. In order to achieve the modules, learners will be required to write seven assignments that they will submit through an e-portfolio which will be signed off by their assessor before quality assurance and certification. There is no formal training required but ADSO provides a number of resources to support learners including knowledge banks to help with research and guidance on completing the assignments.

Please note that, currently, the assessment criteria are based on English legislation.

Learners can access two free places during their time working on the ADSO Certificate, this applies to courses except ‘Just a Minute’, ‘Meetings Procedures’ and ‘Becoming a DSO’. If you would like to access a place as a Learner please ensure that you email  at the point of booking to ensure that there are places available and to inform Kirsty that you would like to take advantage of this benefit of being a ADSO Learner.

Learners must complete their assignments to strict deadlines, laid out in the attached document, with the aim of completing 7 modules within an agreed timescale of 18 months.

Learners must be prepared to work on the programme in their own time, without this commitment it is not possible to complete the programme

The cost is currently £1140 + VAT for an ADSO member  and £1470 + VAT for a non ADSO member this will be reviewed in July 2022

A limited number of bursaries are available for ADSO members – please go the Bursaries web page for information. Submission deadlines apply.

Applying for a place on programme – Submitting a formal Expression of Interest
Due to the high volume of enquiries for the Certificate you must submit a formal Expression of Interest to be considered (an email asking to be placed on the programme is not sufficient). EOIs are logged on a strictly first-come, first-served basis however the submission of a formal EOI doesn’t guarantee a place on the programme as this is dependent on assessor availability therefore early submission of an EOI is advised.

When we know how many places we can offer, we will be in touch to confirm if a place can be allocated (This is usually in January/February for the Certificate) or give you the opportunity of being carried forward to the next cohort.

The next cohort will start in March 2023
If you would like to register your formal Expression of Interest in the Certificate programme, please do so by emailing Sarah Papper at South West Councils: with the following information:

  • Job title and Authority
  • Contact telephone number and email address
  • Reasons for wanting to undertake the Certificate
  • An up-to-date CV that includes qualifications and levels gained plus an overview of experience in Democratic Services