Programme structure

This is a two year Masters Programme designed to comply with University requirements, QAA guidelines at master's Level and with the requirements of the Health Care Professions Council and Department of Health. In addition, all students are required to meet professional requirements in accordance with the Professionals Capabilities Framework (PCF) as proposed by the College of Social Work which supports social work students and social workers throughout their career in social work.

The course offers a generic professional social work qualification which means that you are qualified to work with both adults and children. It is structured around core units with some choice of advanced units in the second year. There is a workshop programme which covers specialist and contemporary topics and a selection of two-day courses in particular social work methods such as cognitive behavioural and family systems approaches.

Year One

Introduces students to the general principles of social work; developing an understanding of oppression and considering the importance of social work values and ethics. Students will develop insights into the social context of social work considering contemporary social work questions within the fields of social work with children and families, adult social care, homelessness, domestic violence, substance misuse and mental health. A critical appreciation of social work methods and skills will also be established and students will develop a critical understanding of applied social science including developmental psychology, social policy and the law. In addition, students will consider the role of interagency and professional practice and the importance of the role of community and community networks in social work practice. Students will undertake 70 days assessed practice placement in a social work setting.

Year Two

This year provides opportunities for students to further develop and demonstrate the importance of evidence based practice with adults or social work with children and families. Students will be able to choose to undertake further study in adult mental health, child and adolescent mental health, social work with youth offenders and community practice. Students will also undertake a number of research methods workshops. You will be required to complete a 15,000 word dissertation. Students will undertake 100 days assessed practice placement in a social work setting. 

Registration with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The Health Care Professions Council are the regulators for the social work profession. On successful completion of the programme you will be elligible to apply for registration with the Health Care Professions Council. Should you leave the programme prior to completition of the MSc or Post Graduate Diploma you will not be elgible to register. For further information please visit www.hcp-uk.org.uk


Most of the units are assessed by extended essays and case studies which are designed to apply theory and research to practice and policy. There are two examinations: one in law and one in human development. Practice placements are assessed jointly by a skilled and experienced practice educator and a member of the university staff. You will be required to compile a portfolio of work based on a holistic model of assessment informed by the nine domains of the professional capabilities Framework (TCSW) and the standards of proficiency as identified by the Health Care Professions Council. This will include your practice with service users and carers, inlcuding critical reflections and structured observations of your work. The programme concludes with a research-based dissertation project.

Programme handbook

Download the MSc Social Work programme handbook 2019-20 (PDF, 943kB)

If you have problems accessing the documents please contact the Professional Programmes Administrator who will email or send you a copy.


As on all social work qualifying courses, and in accordance with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) guidelines, students spend a substantial part of the course in practice placements. 

The aim of placements is to allow students to learn and develop both skills and a value-base for their work. The HCPC’s standards of proficiency for social work are based on the principle that a social worker trains and qualifies with a broad experience and understanding of the profession and therefore we seek to ensure that all students experience some breadth and variety in their placements. The Health Care Professions Council recommends that students should have different learning experiences in their first and last placement and this will mean different placement settings and different service user groups. Prior to commencing your placement you will be required to complete and pay for a DBS disclosure.

The first placement commences in the second term for a period of 70 days. You will be on placement four days a week, returning to the University during term time on a Thursday. The second placement takes place in the first term of the second year for a period of 100 days returning to the University during term time on a Monday.

Practice placements will vary:

Agency  These may include placements in the following areas: statutory social services and health adult care teams, youth offending teams, voluntary and independent sector and community organisations. 
Setting For example: fieldwork, day care, residential care, family centre, community work, hospital and school placements.
Service User Group You could be working with: older people, offenders, children, young people, families, people experiencing mental distress, people with learning disabilities, homeless people, women, asylum seekers
Location These might be urban (inner city, outer suburb), small town and rural areas. You may be required to travel within a 50 mile radius of the University for your placement. All eligible postgraduate students may be entitled to a placement travel allowance. Please see www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/841.aspx
Social Work Methods  these may include, group work, family work, community work, individual counselling, task-centred work, cognitive behavioural approaches, empowerment approaches.

'My first placement was with Second Step, I had not previously worked with adults who experience mental distress, the placement provided me with many different learning opportunities and was able to build on and develop my social work skills during the placement.' First year MSc Social Work student

'The placement in the Referral and Assessment Team gave me more opportunity to put the methods and theories learnt in university into practice. The biggest aspect of learning, therefore, was gaining knowledge and experience of the variety of issues that children and families face and how best to support or intervene in these circumstances. The second placement allowed me to develop my identity as a social worker and I began to feel more of a sense of professional integrity.' Second year MSc Social Work student

Meet the staff

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