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

Certificate in Democratic Services Knowledge

Target Audience

This qualification 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 or want to get some recognition for their skills and knowledge learnt ‘on the job’.  For more details about the Certificate in Democratic Services Knowledge download this brochure.

Guide to the Certificate in Democratic Knowledge March 2022

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Gaining the Certificate

Each learner will be assigned an Assessor to support them through their qualification. In order to achieve the modules, learners will be required to write  seven assignments which they will submit through an e-portfolio and which will be signed off by their Assessor before quality assurance and certification. There is no formal training required but ADSO provide a number of resources to support learners including Knowledge Banks to help with research and guidance on completing their assignments. Learners are also entitled to attend ADSO training course directly relevant to their qualification free of charge. Please note that, currently, the assessment criteria are based on English legislation which may make it harder for learners from Wales or Scotland to gain the required knowledge.


Learners must complete their assignments to set deadlines with the aim of completing within an agreed timescale (about 20 months) They need to plan and manage their time in order to achieve this – it is not possible to achieve the qualification without being prepared to spend time working on it in the learners own time.


The cost is £1140 + VAT for an ADSO member  and £1470 + VAT for a non ADSO member 

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

Expression of interest

Due to the high volume of enquiries for this qualification, you must submit a formal Expression of Interest to be considered (an email simply asking to be placed on 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 programme as this is dependent on assessor availability.

When we know how many places we can offer we will be in touch to confirm if a place can be allocated, or give you the opportunity of being carried forward to the next cohort.

This is usually in January/February for the Certificate.

The next cohort will start in March 2022.

If you would like to register your formal Expression of Interest in the qualification, please do so by emailing Sarah Papper at SWCouncils: with the following information:

  • Job title and Authority
  • Contact telephone number and email address
  • Reasons for wanting to undertake the qualification
  • CV providing an overview of experience in Democratic Services

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