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

These were launched by ADSO in 2009  / 11 to fill the gap in the sector for a professional qualification. Since their introduction the ADSO Centres have kept a close eye on the content, refreshing the qualifications as required by the introduction of new legislation.

The Certificate has now been reviewed in order to:

  • update the structure, content and currency to make it more relevant and more sustainable in the future
  • improve completion rates
  • attempt to address the issue of shortage of advisors to support learners,
  • improve access to learning materials – e learning for example
  • rationalise administration and related processes

A pilot cohort of Certificate learners started in March 2017. Those currently working towards their Certificate will continue to be supported to complete their qualification as quickly as possible.

The ADSO Diploma has also been reviewed and updated and a pilot cohort started in October 2017. Those learners currently undertaking the Diploma will continue to be supported to complete their qualification as quickly as possible.

The management of the new qualifications is being undertaken for ADSO by South West Councils.

Please contact Sue Keogh, ADSO Director of Development on if you have any questions or require further information.


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.

Certificate in Democratic Knowledge Handbook March 2018

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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.



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.


 £1035 + VAT for an ADSO member  and £1335 + VAT for a non ADSO member

Expression of interest

The next cohort of Certificate learners is likely to start in March 2018. If you would like to register your interest in undertaking the Certificate, please send the following details to Sue Crosland at South West Councils

  • Name and job title
  • Authority
  • Contact email and telephone number
  • Experience in Democratic Services