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

ADSO Diploma in Local Democracy

Target Audience
There are no formal entry requirements for undertaking the Diploma but a learner would ideally possess an in depth knowledge of the main democratic functions and have a number of year’s experience of working in the sector.

Structure of the qualification
To achieve the Diploma, learners must work through the three stages below:

Foundation Stage – this part is mandatory and comprises of the following 3 modules from the Certificate in Democratic Knowledge:

Structures and Functions of Local Government, Role of Council and its Governance Arrangements, Members and Officers in Local Government

Learners who have already completed the new Certificate will be exempt from these modules. The fourth module is Development and impact of Local Democracy legislation

Pathway Stage – at this stage the learner selects a desired specialist pathway from the following options:

Governance arrangements, Overview and scrutiny, Regulatory framework, Ethical framework, Member development, Member support and Civic support.

They initially complete a Research module to enable them to plan effectively for their specialist project.

Reflection Stage – this module enables the learner to reflect on their learning outcomes from the project and assess and evaluate their recommendations and conclusions.

Guide to the Diploma in Local Democracy Oct 2022

extension: pdf

Gaining the Diploma
Each learner will be assigned an Assessor who will support them through their qualification. Learners will undertake a written assignment for each of the four modules which will be marked by their Assessor who will may carry out a professional discussion to test the understanding of the knowledge gained. On successful completion of the Foundation stage, the learner will then need to plan and carry out the necessary research to write a 12000 – 14000 word dissertation on their chosen specialist area. 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.

It is anticipated that the qualification will take two years to complete.  There is no formal training required to achieve the qualification but learners will be required to take part in the induction session and may wish to attend any relevant courses or conferences.  It is not possible to achieve the qualification without being prepared to spend time working on it in the learners own time.

Current cost (subject to change)

ADSO Members: £1470 + VAT
Non ADSO Members: £1800 + VAT

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

The next cohort of Diploma learners will start in October 2022 and potential learners are asked to submit a formal Expression of Interest (EOI) 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. Please note, however, that 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 August/September for the Diploma qualification.

If you would like to register your interest in the qualification, please email Sue Crosland at SW Councils: with the following information:

  • Name
  • 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
  • Bursary application if applicable