Charity and Social Enterprise Management CertHE

Distance learning undergraduate (2 years)

Distance learning

January 2017, September 2017


Keen and ambitious to thrive in the rapidly evolving third sector? Our part-time Certificate of Higher Education in Charity and Social Enterprise Management can help.

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Full description

for Student satisfaction*

*NSS 2016


We've designed our course for people who are already working in the third sector, including paid employees, trustees and board members. It's also suitable for public sector staff in services that are moving towards a mutual or social enterprise model. By studying with us you'll enhance your contribution to your organisation - and your career prospects in the third sector.

Professionals from the third sector will share their experience with you and, throughout the course, there'll be extensive opportunities to network and build links with your fellow students.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Third Sector Leadership and Management
    The third sector (civil society) in the UK comprises 137,000 charities and 62,000 social enterprises, employing 464,000 people (FTE) and with a turnover of some £60 billion per annum, representing significant growth since the turn of the century. Leadership in the modern third sector requires successful delivery against social objectives while ensuring the financial sustainability of the organisation, and leaders in turn need to possess a distinct set of skills. This module develops students' knowledge of the functional requirements of their role, and introduces techniques to enable them to lead their organisation in a competitive and dynamic environment. An examination of the sector overall, and of government policy relating to it, leads into discussion and evaluation of the business environment. You will be encouraged to critically reflect on your organisation's vision and mission, and then to use tools such as PESTEL to appraise your environment and the opportunities it presents. The topics of mapping and managing stakeholders, and competitor analysis are used to enhance strategic planning, before taking an objective look at the resources and competences the organisation needs to be competitive in their chosen field. The last part of the module deals with leadership - from successfully managing boards of trustees, to developing your own leadership skills. Assessment will be via a presentation of a strategic model (Porter's Five Forces or PESTEL) as applied to your organisation, followed by a written report on the strategy of the organisation. On completion of this module you will be able to progress to leadership roles within your organisation and develop your career in the wider third sector.
  • Social Enterprise
    An understanding of social enterprise is a vital component in the skill set of the modern third sector manager. This module examines social enterprises as organisations, where trading for a social purpose is a central activity, and social enterprise as an activity, which can be undertaken by charities and voluntary organisations seeking to maximise income. Social enterprise has been defined as an organisation which trades for a social purpose. This definition covers around 62,000 enterprises in the UK, and the sector is very diverse, ranging from charitable trading arms to major retail co-operatives. We will examine a range of types and legal structures for social enterprise, and outline the history of the sector and analyse government policy relating to social enterprise. Having established this contextual framework, the module then takes a practical approach which allows you to look at your own organisation and sector through the social enterprise 'lens'. The module then proposes some answers to the question: how does managing a social enterprise differ from running conventional businesses? Some key ideas around legal structures, finance, social impact and entrepreneurship are used to explore this subject. Finally, we look at examples from the region and nationally of how social enterprise has been introduced to existing organisations, and how new ones have been spun out, and outline the structure of a typical social enterprise business plan. The assignment is the preparation of a report, and summary presentation slides, discussing the feasibility of starting a social enterprise, or increasing the level of social enterprise activity, in the student's own organisation. On completion of this module you will be well-placed to pursue career opportunities in social enterprise and the wider third sector.
  • Financial Management in the Third Sector
    This module introduces you to a number of topics and techniques which inform the management of finances in general, and in a third sector organisation. The policy framework, funding environment and reporting requirements for third sector organisations have changed immeasurably in the years since 1997: this module presents an up-to-date picture of what these changes mean in practice for the third sector manager. As well as sector-specific financial management skills, the module provides you with an understanding of general financial management principles. A number of general trends in the third sector environment have had an impact on organisations' financial management, including an increasingly competitive funding environment, moves away from grant funding to contracts with public sector bodies, availability of tailored loan finance, and an increased expectation from funders and boards of trustees that social enterprise activity should be undertaken, thus improving sustainability. The module examines a range of sources of finance for third sector organisations, which include donations, legacies, fundraising, trading income, applying for grants, loan finance for the sector, and the possibility of equity finance (for social enterprises). Basic principles of budgeting, cash flow, and financial reporting are also taught. This will enable you to take financial planning and monitoring, to interpret data, and to present information to internal and external stakeholders. Assessment is a report based on a third sector organisation, reflecting achievement of the learning outcomes for the module. The module will help those already working in the third sector to provide evidence they have the skills for managing an organisation, and those who are interested in developing their career within the sector, or playing a role as a trustee.
  • Marketing for Third Sector Organisations
    Third sector organisations differ markedly from private sector businesses in mission, organisation and activity. Firstly, they exist to meet social need, rather than to create profit per se; secondly, they rely heavily on voluntarism (volunteer labour, donated income or other capital); thirdly, they often exist where traditional markets (and state-led approaches) have failed. These three differences still persist, sometimes with additional tension where social enterprise, with its focus on product and customer, is involved. Finally, the situation is complicated further by the existence of a large number of stakeholder groups with potentially contradictory aims and objectives. This module equips third sector managers with an understanding of generalist marketing principles and practice, with additional, specific input on those aspects which are unique to, or important for, the third sector. The early part of the module focuses on definitions of marketing, and its central role in modern business management. We introduce key elements such as segmentation, differentiation, brand and identity, research, and the marketing mix, all illustrated by case studies from the sector, and modified where applicable by third sector specialist theory. The important and sector specific areas of social marketing (influencing behaviour), attracting donors, recruiting volunteers, and proving social impact are also covered, along with the ethics of marketing for organisations working with disadvantaged or disabled people. Finally the module examines how traditional communication channels are being replaced by Web 2.0 and social media, and explores how these can be harnessed specifically by third sector organisations. You will develop a marketing strategy as your assessed assignment for this module, based on your own organisation. The content of this strategy will include aspects from the module including a description of customer groups, organisational identity, and clear objectives. As a result of completing this module, you will be more employable as managers and leaders in the sector due to the skills acquired.
  • Human Resource Management in the Third Sector
    At the heart of many third sector organisations is the idea of transforming people's lives for the better. This means in practice that volunteers, trainees and employees often come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Even where this isn’t the primary focus of the organisation, the use of volunteer workers, and the lack of financial resource to attract top talent, means that third sector organisations have to be flexible and creative in the way they recruit, manage and retain their staff. This module examines all aspects of human resource management in relation to the third sector, beginning by examining the overall discipline and ensuring that HR strategy is explained and seen as integrally linked to overall business strategy. You’re introduced to planning approaches for HR, based on organisational need rather than historic precedent. Having explored the principles of good recruitment and managing the performance of individuals and teams, the 'third sector' difference is critically reviewed: are staff at third sector organisations altruistic, in the sense they’re willing to work longer and receive less financial reward, because of the social benefit accruing from the organisation's work? Further elements of HRM specific to the third sector, namely volunteer management and working with disadvantaged groups and individuals, are also covered, and the module also presents legal information that surround the HR function. One of the main focuses for the design of this module has been the further development of relevant employability and professional skills. Third sector managers and other leaders (trustees) will be better equipped to take on senior roles within the sector. The module is assessed by completion of a 3,000 word assignment with a focus on your own organisation. You’re also encouraged to maintain a learning journal to reflect upon their thoughts and learning. The learning journal is discussed in your tutorial sessions.
  • Social Impact Assessment
    For social enterprises, charities and voluntary organisation, economic, environmental and social benefits are not part of corporate social responsibility, but the fundamental reason they come into existence. Effectively, third sector organisations have to deliver financial sustainability alongside these social and other impacts: a 'double bottom line'. However, while financial activity is accounted for and audited, very few organisations attempt a similar process regarding their impact. Social accounting and audit (SAA), and Social Return on Investment are two frameworks for organisations wishing to demonstrate their impact and improve their performance in serving their key stakeholders or beneficiaries. This module introduces the concept of impact assessment, and takes you through the each process as defined by the Social Audit Network and the SROI Network respectively. It also touches on some alternative and complementary impact tools which are popular in the third sector. Having been introduced to the subject and understood what social accounting is, you are then presented with the four stages of SAA, and the SROI process. We also examine a number of other tools including Charities Evaluation Service, Co-operative, and Environmental and Social Performance Indicators (CESPIs).The assessment consists of a final assignment which is a report/action plan for your organisation to undertake social impact assessment incorporating checklists from the preferred process, explaining what would be involved, and detailing potential costs and benefits from undertaking the process. Social impact assessment is arousing great interest within the third sector and knowledge of this area will improve your employability as managers.


You won’t need to sit any exams to pass this course. Instead, you’ll carry out assessments that reflect tasks you'll undertake at work, such as presentations, reports and written assignments.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Lord Ashcroft International Business School is one of the largest business schools in the East of England, with nearly 100 full-time teaching staff and approximately 6,000 students from more than 100 countries.

Our striking and award-winning business school building in Chelmsford, as well as new buildings in Cambridge, offer the most advanced learning technologies. We’re well-recognised for our centres of excellence by students, employers and professional bodies alike.

What makes us stand out is that our courses don't just give you sound academic knowledge – they’re at the cutting edge of current business practice and highly relevant to employers. This is owing to the close links we have with the business community and the partnerships we've developed with a wide variety of businesses and public service organisations. 

We're interested in people who are confident, ambitious and ready to take the challenge of making a difference in the world of business. If that's you, we'd love to hear from you.

Where can I study?

Distance learning
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Study at a time that suits you, using our Virtual Learning Environment.

More about distance learning

Fees & funding

Course fees

Distance learning, 2016/17


UK & EU students, Distance Learning, 2017/18 (per year, part time)


How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

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01245 68 68 68

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+44 1245 68 68 68

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