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Postgraduate study
Social Work

Social Work MA

This course leads to a professional qualification allowing you to apply for registration with Social Work England to work as a social worker in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world. You gain the skills and knowledge to meet the challenges and developments in the social work environment, equipped to undertake any role suitable for a newly-qualified social worker.


Course overview


It is a course requirement to complete supervised placements. The majority of local authorities who work with the University to provide placement opportunities require you to have access to and use of a car and adequate insurance covering business use to attend visits.

Further details will be provided at interview stage and you will be asked to sign a suitability declaration which also includes confirmation that you hold a valid driving licence. If, due to individual circumstances, you are unable to drive or have particular difficulties in accessing your own transport, these circumstances will be considered but should be discussed with the University at interview.

Top reasons to study this course

> Study this course and you may be eligible for a £2,500 Sir Keith Skeoch postgraduate scholarship.
> Experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team have a strong focus on evidence-base practice.
> Social work is an internationally recognised profession offering global career opportunities.
> You matter – and will be part of a community which encourages you to find your voice, with professional and personal supervision, and support specific to your needs.

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Course details

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.

Course structure

Core modules

Final Project

Your final project is a 15000 word literature-based project focusing on a current and relevant issue for practice which you will have chosen to explore in depth.

Introduction to Social Work

You are introduced to the key knowledge, values and ethics that underpin social work practice. You also look at serious case reviews to consider the essential skills needed for effective social work.

This six week module is delivered entirely online through live face-to-face sessions to develop the online communication, presentation and group work skills required for contemporary social work practice.

People, Environment, Welfare and the Law

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

Research for Practice

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. Visual methods are a key component of this module.

Social Work: Culture and Contexts

You study current issues with a focus on local issues, needs and resources and also consider the impact of organisational and personal issues on the delivery of social work.

Think Family 1: incorporating Practice Placement 1

Within this module you develop your knowledge and skills in methods of intervention, assessment and core social work skills. These skills will be further enhanced in your 70 day placement experience.

Think Family 2: incorporating Practice Placement 2

This module builds on the key skills you have developed in Think Family 1, and examines the ways in which different issues that people experience intersect with each other. Further complexity in social work practice is considered. This prepares you for your final placement of 100 days.


Modules offered may vary.


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.


Entry requirements

You should typically have an honours degree – normally 2:2 or above. You must also have a GCSE in English at grade 4 (grade C) or equivalent. Applications should include a personal statement to support an application to social work.

Subject to the academic requirements, you will be invited to complete a timed written exercise and attend an interview (if successful in the written test). Both parts must be passed.

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.

As part of the admissions process you will need to:

  • complete a satisfactory Occupational Health Clearance (further details will be provided)
  • complete a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. You are strongly encouraged to enrol on the DBS updating service.
  • provide a satisfactory suitability assessment.

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.

IELTS entry requirements for international students is level 7.

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. If you are thinking about doing social work, it is very important that you research the challenges and demands of the profession. Quality newspapers such as The Guardian are a good source of information for contemporary social issues.


  • 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 various sources of information. Good websites to research include: the 'what is social work' section of the BASW website, Social Care Institute for Excellence, and Community Care online
  • 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
  • For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



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.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

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Professional accreditation

Achievement of MA Social Work gives you eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker with Social Work England, the professional regulator. The course 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.

Please note attendance is monitored during this programme.


2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,710 a year

£13,420 in total

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

£34,000 in total

More details about our fees for international applicants

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