Postgraduate study
Social Work

MA Social Work

This course provides you with the skills and knowledge to meet the challenges and developments in the social work environment. All students participate in the same core curriculum so that you are equipped to undertake any role suitable for a newly-qualified social worker.

Course information


  • 22 months; January start

More full-time details

2019 entry


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

In Year 1 you are introduced to the core skills and values of social work and what it means to be a professional social worker. You are also introduced to the legal and policy background which governs how social work is carried out.

You then learn important contextual information which social workers need including human development, how people react to difficult life events and life changes and more about the nature of social problems faced by different groups in society.

Year 1 and Year 2 contain modules called Think Family which give you essential learning in working with all adults and children and prepare you for your placements. You must demonstrate evidence of readiness for practice before you begin the first placement* of 70 days which takes place from June to September.

You also study organisational issues and are challenged to think about how you can make the best use of supervision and contribute to design and improvement of services.

In your final year you undertake a further social work placement of 100 days in a different setting from the first and also write a dissertation, with support, based around a real practice issue. You use published literature and data to develop ideas for how practice can be improved in your chosen area.

The strong organisational and service improvement dimension to the master’s programme helps you develop quickly in your field.

*Some placement providers may require you to drive with access to your own vehicle. If you have any questions about this please contact us before applying.

Where you study

You study at Teesside University on our Middlesbrough campus. You undertake adult and children placements in the statutory and voluntary sectors across the region.

Course structure

Core modules

Final Project

Your final project is a literature-based project focusing on a current and relevant issue for practice.

Introduction to Social Work

Within this module we look at serious case reviews to consider the essential skills needed for effective social work.

People, Environment, Welfare and the Law

You study the theories of human development and consider the law in context.

Practice Placement 1

Your first placement is for 70 days.

Practice Placement 2

Your second placement is for 100 days.

Research for Practice

In this module you look at using research to understand and apply to social work. You learn the skills you need for developing your own research from practice.

Think Family 1

Within this module you develop your knowledge and skills in methods of intervention, assessment and core social work skills.

Think Family 2

This module builds on the key skills you have developed in Think Family 1.

Working in Organisations and Management of the Self

You study current issues around effective working within a range of organisations and effective ways of managing personal and professional issues.


Modules offered may vary.

Where you study

You study at Teesside University on our Middlesbrough campus. You undertake adult and children placements in the statutory and voluntary sectors across the region.

How you learn

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, small group work, micro-teaching skills and professional/practice placements.

How you are assessed

Assessment approaches including essays, small group and individual presentations, dissertation based around service improvement, reports, and assessment of skills in interacting with service users and carers. The assessments have a strong focus on social work practice and preparing you for the workplace. You are also assessed on your practical social work skills in two placements.

Work placement

Achievement of an MA in Social Work gives you eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker with the regulatory body. The programme includes two assessed placements in social work settings. The placements will be in different settings with different service user groups and at least one placement will normally be in a statutory setting or in a placement where statutory work can be experienced

Career opportunities

A master’s degree in social work can lead to a long career as a professional social worker with adults or children. There are many job opportunities in local authority social work departments as well as voluntary sector organisations and increasingly new types of employers such as social enterprises and the private sector.

Master’s degree students are especially attractive to employers because of the skills which they have achieved as postgraduates. A master’s degree can help graduates to advance quickly in their careers. The degree provides graduates with transferable skills including report writing and interpersonal skills. These skills can be applied across a range of graduate employment opportunities.

Entry requirements

You must have:

  • an honours degree (normally at least 2.1)
  • GCSE grade C or above in English and maths (or certified equivalents)

International applicants:

  • International applicants must have IELTS 7.0 with a minimal score of 6.5 in all sections or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 100/120 before an unconditional offer is made.
  • If you are successful at shortlisting you will be invited to attend an interview (which may be in person OR video call) in one of our international offices in either India, Malaysia or China, or through a secure web link (which will be arranged by the University).

Admission to the course is dependent on:

  • academic entry requirements being met
  • a satisfactory application form
  • successful interview. You must confirm prior to interview/offer decision making that you have the ability to use basic IT including word processing, internet browsing and email. EU applicants must meet communicating and comprehension skills to International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at level 7 and you must show certified evidence of this
  • satisfactory references
  • completed work-based risk assessment process
  • a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service check.

During the course and on completion you must declare any convictions, cautions or allegations to the University and relevant professional body prior to application for registration.

If you are successful in shortlisting and interview you will receive a conditional offer, subject to the following:

  • evidence of achievement of the required academic qualifications
  • a successful work-based risk assessment reflecting the Higher Educational Occupational Physicians/Practitioners (HEOPS) recommendations - please read these here. For more information on all of the HEOPS standards click here
  • a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Services check. Any warnings, cautions, allegations or convictions received in the last five years may have implications for your continued offer on the course
  • satisfactory references
  • the School is able to take previous working experiences into account when considering your application through an accreditation of prior learning arrangement. Please contact us if you have any questions about this.

Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credits for previous study or related work experience which can be credited towards the course you want to study. Find out more about RPL.

Bursary information
The current allocation of bursaries for this course is limited. Allocation is not confirmed until after enrolment in line with the NHS Business Services Authority process. We strongly recommend you consider how you will fund your studies without the allocation of a bursary.

How to prepare for your MA Social Work interview
Social work is a professional qualification and a registered title and therefore the selection process is important as applicants need to demonstrate key skills in interpersonal and written communication and a beginning understanding of the varied role of the social worker. Therefore if you are thinking about doing social work, it is very important that you research beforehand about the challenges and demands of the profession.


  • Research the course and the University by looking at the website and, if possible, attend a postgraduate open day
  • Update yourself on current themes and issues in social work, and wider social issues by reading a good quality newspaper. Good websites to research include: the 'what is social work' section of the BASW website (it's an excellent source for finding out about social work and the range of skills and knowledge necessary for professional practice; Social Care Institute for Excellence, and Community Care.

    • Review relevant legislation and policy frameworks such as Working Together to Safeguard Children - GOV.UK; and Care and support statutory guidance - GOV.UK. Get as much practical experience and information as you can.
    • Try and engage with a social worker - it will give you an insight into the realities of the sector, and vital information to discuss at interview.
    • Useful texts to read: Thompson, N (2015), Understanding social work: preparing for practice, and - Thompson, N (2016) Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity & Social Justice (Macmillan).

    On the day:

    • Bring all required documentation
    • Dress in smart, comfortable clothes. Remember this is an interview for a professional course
    • Be on time. Make sure you know where you need to go and arrive with plenty of time to spare.

    Individual interview
    Answer the questions as fully as you can and give illustrations from your own life/career. Demonstrate a wide knowledge of the social work role and the demands of the profession informed by your background reading and research. The interview will assess: your communication skills, understanding of the demands of the programme and of the social work profession, ability to demonstrate reflection, understanding of social justice/anti-discriminatory practice and of your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to social work.

    Written test
    You will be asked to read an article related to social work and answer questions linked to the article. The written test will assess your potential to develop reflective skills and evidence of your ability to analyse and write clearly.

    For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

    International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

Course information


  • 22 months; January start

More full-time details

2019 entry


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information