Frequently asked questions
- When can I apply for entry?
- How do I apply?
- Is there an application fee?
- I have applied before - do I need to re-apply?
- Are my undergraduate qualifications appropriate?
- What are the English Language requirements for the course?
- What accommodation is on offer?
More detailed questions
- How is the University of Bristol programme run?
- Is the programme an approved professional social work course?
- What are the Bristol University fees?
- What is the news about bursary support for MSc students?
- What financial help is available from the University?
- What is the selection procedure?
- How is the programme structured?
- Can the programme be undertaken part-time?
- What is the programme philosophy?
- What social work research is happening in the University?
- How many course places are available each year?
- Do many mature students undertake the course?
- How much previous experience do I need and in what fields of work?
- How will my work be assessed?
- How is the practice placement organised?
- Where will practice placement take place?
- Can I do a placement overseas?
- How much academic and/or personal support can I expect from both the University and the course staff?
- I am an international student, can I apply?
- What support is available for students with young children or other caring responsibilities?
- Will I get any credits for previous academic experience?
- Can you recommend any pre application reading?
- Can I defer my offer to next year?
When can I apply for entry?
The application cycle is from October to April.
How do I apply?
Applications are made via the online application system.
Is there an application fee?
I have applied before - do I need to re-apply?
Yes, via the online application system.
Are my undergraduate qualifications appropriate?
We require a 2:1 in any academic discipline. Lesser degrees will be considered if there is evidence of substantial relevant work experience.
What are the English Language requirements for the course?
An English Language test will be required. Please refer to the programme prospectus page for information.
What accommodation is on offer?
Please refer to the University’s main accommodation webpage.
More detailed questions
How is the University of Bristol programme run?
The MSc programme is planned and managed by University of Bristol. This is a two year master's programme designed to comply with University requirements, QAA guidelines at master's level and with the requirements of the Health and Care Professionals Council and Department of Health. In addition, all students are expected to meet professional requirements in accordance with the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).
The programme prides itself on being research-live and practice-near, with academic input given by a staff team who are involved in cutting-edge research. This academic input is consolidated through 170 practice learning days and 30 skills days. Teaching and assessment are provided in collaboration with social work practitioners from partner agencies, and members of an active Service User and Carer Forum.
Is the programme an approved professional social work course?
The MSc Social Work has the status of an ‘approved programme’ with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC). This two-year programme is provided under the new framework for Social Work qualifications. It is a joint professional practice and academic award. On successful completion of the programme you will be eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC.
What are the Bristol University fees?
Please refer to the University's fees and funding pages.
What is the news about bursary support for MSc students?
The Department of Health and the Department for Education continue to review the bursary allocation for social work education. The University of Bristol will be allocated a set number of bursaries for each academic year. The number of bursaries available does not usually cover the number of places we have available on the course. Consequently, some students enter the programme without a full bursary - either ‘self-funded’ or sponsored by their Local Authority. We allocate bursaries according to performance during the interview day. Please refer to the NHS website for further information regarding social work bursaries.
What financial help is available from the University?
Please refer to the University's fees and funding pages.
What is the selection procedure?
There are three stages to the selection procedure:
- First, all application forms are screened to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Second, the applications are read carefully and scored. The team uses a scoring framework developed through discussion with partner agencies and the Service User and Carer Forum.
- Third, applicants with scores above an agreed threshold will be invited for interview.
The following criteria are used when considering the applications:
- academic preparedness and good written English;
- relevant learning from work and life experience;
- experience and understanding of social work and social care and appropriate personal and intellectual qualities;
- understanding of, and commitment to, the values and ethics of social work.
Successful applicants will be invited to interview. Interviews will be held regularly from the end of January. Candidates will be interviewed by one member of University staff, a social work practitioner, and a representative of the Service User and Carer Forum.
The interview day will have four parts:
- an information session;
- a short written exercise,
- a communication and inter-personal skills exercise; and
- a personal interview.
Successful applicants will either be offered a place or will be offered a place on the waiting list.
Offers will be conditional on various factors to be completed before the start of the programme including:
- satisfactory completion of a criminal records check;
- satisfactory health check as required by the General Social Care Council;
- academic requirements as specified in the offer letter.
Applicants who are invited to interview are required to complete a 'Declaration of Suitability for Social Work'. Please note that the information you declare does not necessarily rule out your application. However, if you have a criminal conviction you may be asked for further information about this before a decision is made. It is also important for all applicants to know you will need a new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check prior to enrolment (see DBS checks section for further information including payment).
You will also be required to spend two days shadowing a qualified social worker before taking up your place on the course. Further information about these aspects will be available at that stage.
How is the programme structured?
The organisation of teaching and learning on this course is modular. Assessment is based on written work, direct assessment of practice, various forms of continuous assessment, and participation in classes and workshops.
Can the programme be undertaken part-time?
No. The MSc Social Work is a full-time programme; it runs for two calendar years from October in year one to the end of September two years later.
What is the programme philosophy?
The University of Bristol aims to produce graduates who are ready and able to fulfil the role of newly qualified social workers, and who have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the roles and functions across a range of agencies. Our programme philosophy has evolved over time reflecting developments in the profession and the delivery of social work services in the UK. You can download the programme philosophy here (PDF) (PDF, 90kB).
What social work research is happening in the University?
The School for Policy Studies has an outstanding national and international reputation for the quality and quantity of research in social work as well as in social policy. The social work team is actively involved in many research studies.
How many course places are available each year?
There are 55 places available each year. The University will adjust this number according to the availability of practice placements.
Do many mature students undertake the course?
Social work is an exciting career for a wide range of people of all ages, and this is reflected in the breadth of backgrounds of our social work students. The broad age-range represented by our student cohorts is a very positive aspect of our programme as it allows for collaborative exchange of ideas and peer learning.
How much previous experience do I need and in what fields of work?
Six months experience is the minimum requirement; this can be from a mixture of full or part time and can be paid or voluntary. See our relevant experience (Office document, 35kB) document for more information.
How will my work be assessed?
Most of the units are assessed by extended essays, case studies and / or presentations which are designed to apply theory and research to practice and policy. There are two examinations; a Law exam and Human Development exam. Practice placements are assessed jointly by skilled and experienced practice educators, practice supervisors and a member of the university staff. You will be required to compile a portfolio of work based on your practice with service users and carers, including critical reflections and structured observations of your work. These portfolios are reviewed by a Practice Assessment Panel (PAP), a team of people who represent partner agencies, the Service User and Carer Forum, and the University. The programme concludes with a research-based dissertation project.
How is the practice placement organised?
There are two placements, the first is 70 days and second is 100 days. Practice placements are arranged by the practice learning co-ordinator in partnership with social work and social care agencies.
Where will practice placement take place?
The placement co-ordinators negotiate placements for students in partnership with local authority, voluntary and independent sector providers. At least one of your placements will be in a practice setting where you will be able to learn about statutory social work tasks and skills and subsequently to demonstrate your capability in these respects. The university’s partner agencies are Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, Somerset County Council and South Gloucestershire Council. We also collaborate with other neighbouring authorities in the South West and have a number of established links with Voluntary and Independent Sector agencies across the region.
Can I do a placement overseas?
Opportunities for overseas placements are not normally part of the University of Bristol social work programme.
How much academic and/or personal support can I expect from both the University and the course staff?
All students are allocated a personal tutor for the duration of the programme. For each practice placement, students have an approved practice educator/assessor and a practice supervisor (these can be the same person) who, together with the student and personal tutor make up the student’s Practice Learning Team.
The University of Bristol also has a comprehensive network of student services which will ensure you have access to support for all aspects of university life – academic, personal and practical.
I am an international student, can I apply?
As an international student, you are welcome to apply. It is important for you to note that:
- The programme prepares you for registration as a social worker in England. Although British social work has a very high reputation internationally, registration procedures differ in Western countries and separate applications will usually be required with evidence of your qualifications.
- Applicants are normally required to attend for interview in person, unless they are living abroad in which case Skype interviews may be arranged.
- You will be expected to demonstrate, in your application and interview, a basic understanding of social work in Britain through previous reading and research.
- The social work busary is not available to international students.
What support is available for students with young children or other caring responsibilities?
The MSc Social Work is a full-time, intensive and demanding programme. It has been designed, as far as possible, to allow for students to study whilst still meeting family commitments. However, we encourage prospective students to discuss the requirements they may have, together with associated practicalities, particularly in view of placement allocation. Please note that quality placements are at a premium and that it is important to be flexible.
Will I get any credits for previous academic experience?
If you have successfully completed postgraduate level modules on another social work education programme, you should discuss your situation with the admissions tutor, who may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that you cannot count academic credits gained on a programme for which you have already been awarded a degree.
Can you recommend any pre application reading?
There are quite a few books about social work on the market, and many interesting articles and papers you can access on the internet, such as:
- British Association of Social Workers
- Community Care
- Children and Young People Now
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation
- Social Care Institute for Excellence.
Can I defer my offer to next year?
This may be possible in exceptional circumstances. You can discuss this with the admissions tutor, who may be contacted via email@example.com.