Course overview

In a world where injustice is ever more prevalent and society is ever more divided, social workers help people find their voice. A career in social work will enable you to make a positive difference in a truly diverse society.

This course will give you deep insights into human life and the world around us. You will consider topics such as social justice, equality and diversity, upholding human rights, building relationships and advocating for vulnerable people.

You'll learn how to communicate with service users, build effective relationships and create reports which you may need to present in court.

You'll develop skills in the classroom, through placements, and on simulated skills days. We have 11 local partner organisations, allowing you to learn from their expertise and establish professional connections.

Our course is regulated by Social Work England and prepares you to practice in both Adults and Children’s Services. Successful completion of the course makes you eligible to apply for registration as a social worker with Social Work England.

Why choose this course?

Outstanding support

from your personal tutor who can advise on personal and academic matters

D2N2 Partnership

Member of the D2N2 Teaching Partnership which ensures the highest standards of social work education and practice

Close to practice

with staff who have extensive experience in a variety of social care settings

Become fully qualified

Upon graduating, you'll be able to register as a fully qualified social worker

Research-led teaching

Learn from staff who undertake world-leading research across the field of social work

Course content

Our curriculum gives you a broad knowledge base to ensure you are able to tackle a range of social care issues affecting children and adults.

You'll explore the effects of policy, legislation, culture, gender, social class, sexuality and personal experiences on individuals’ lives.


In February of your first year you will begin your first 80-day placement with a local social care agency, where you will be given a caseload appropriate to your level. You will be supported and guided by your Practice Educator - a fully experienced senior social worker with years of experience in the sector.

You will also undertake a 90-day placement in your second year, where you can develop your experience, skills and analytical thinking to an even deeper level.

Each placement will be assessed against the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework and the Knowledge and Skills Statements from the Chief Social Workers in England. You will also be fully supported throughout by your personal tutor, who will meet with you to monitor your learning development and wellbeing.


Core modules

Human Growth and Development Across the Life Course

The module provides you with an introduction to a range of theories and evidence about human growth and development. You will be enabled to understand the ways in which human growth and development is affected by a range of factors across the life course and how these factors may impact on the development of resilience and well-being. You are encouraged to develop a critical awareness of the various theoretical perspectives alongside an ability to apply this knowledge to social work practice.

The module follows a life course perspective, tracking human growth and development from the cradle to the grave and draws on theoretical material from a range of different disciplines.

Law for Social Work

This module prepares you with an introduction to relevant legislation, policies and guidance for social work practice with a variety of service users. The programme recognises the centrality of the law and its interaction with policy and research in promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and adults, and the necessity for practitioners to be confident when representing agencies and working with service users in legislative contexts.

To enable a better understanding and application of law to practice, the module includes a general consideration of the English legal system and considers areas around court structure, civil vs. criminal procedures; differing burdens of proof; duties vs. powers; delegated legislation and so on. It focuses on specific legislative frameworks for working with children, including youth justice, older people and people with mental health problems.

Mental Distress: Social Contexts

This module invites you to critically explore concepts of mental distress with a focus on social perspectives.

The dominant medically orientated paradigm of mental 'illness', diagnosis, detention and pharmaceutical 'treatment' will be critically explored, with consideration given to contrasting frameworks of meaning and input from 'experts by experience'. An historical overview of societal responses to mental distress; current debates and wider bio-psycho-social contexts will be explored, with an emphasis on power dynamics and the social work role.

Social Work Theories, Models and Methods

This module prepares you for social work practice. It concentrates on the skills necessary to engage with service users and offers an overview of the social work process of assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation (APIE).

This provides you with a basic theoretical framework for social work practice in which the nature of social work theory is examined in relation to assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation. The module also considers the influence of values on social work practice. 

Understanding Research for Social Work

This course will equip you with the necessary research awareness to critically analyse published research which is of relevance to your professional practice. It will provide you with sufficient understanding of research methods, including research ethics, to prepare you to undertake your MA Social Work dissertation - whether this takes the form of an original empirical study or a systematic literature review.

Practice Learning 1 - 80-day placement

This module comprises 80 days of assessed practice learning. It will focus on your ability to satisfy the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework at the interim stage of judgement.

The placement will be assessed on a pass/fail basis and must be passed in order to progress on the programme. The written assignment must be passed in order to progress on the programme; students who fail the written assignment may be required to resubmit without having to complete a further placement.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 12 July 2021.

Core modules


The module encourages you to critically engage with fundamental questions at the heart of social science research and their impact on social work practice. How, for example, do we seek to 'know' the world?

Research has a new prominence within social work and social care and this module:

  • points to the importance of 'evidenced-based' research for the social work profession
  • develops a critical understanding of the range of research informing social work practice, including practitioner research
  • stresses why social work practice needs to be grounded in social research which is critical of 'official' accounts of social welfare
  • aids student participants in the 'process' of formulating research plans
  • introduces you to the electronic resources which are available at the Hallward Library
  • focuses on the research methods, particularly qualitative methods, which will be central to the writing of the dissertation
  • explores issues related to the ethics of social research
  • highlights how the presentation of research findings is a major component of research activity
Social Work with Adults and Families

This module covers the key practice issues in social work with adults, including safeguarding, mental capacity and working within the Care Act. It considers the needs of different service user groups, including people with learning disabilities and older people. Teaching is delivered by academic staff, current social workers and service users.

Social Work with Children and Families

This module looks at key elements of social work with children and families, including children in need, child protection and the ‘Care System’. It also explores the skills needed to work effectively with children and young people. Teaching is delivered by academic staff, practitioners and people with lived experience of social work.

Practice Learning 2 - 90-day placement

This module comprises 90 days of practice learning. It will focus on your ability to satisfy the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework at the final stage of your qualification.

To pass this module both the 90-day placement and the practice analysis assignment must be passed. If the 90-day placement is not passed the entire 90-day placement has to be repeated and the assignment has to be submitted as a first sit. If the assignment is failed this can be resubmitted without the placement being repeated.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 12 July 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Case-based learning

The majority of academic teaching takes place in the autumn semester of each year. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, tutorials, case discussions and experiential exercises, designed to encourage the integration of theory and practice.

How you will be assessed

  • Essay
  • Coursework
  • Examinations
  • Presentation
  • Research project

Assessment includes written assignments, individual and group presentations, research projects and a seen exam.

Contact time and study hours

Each module consists of about 100 study hours and 30 hours of teaching activities, which typically include a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for 10 or 11 weeks.

You will typically take three or four modules per semester, except when on placement. When on placement, you will work the full-time hours of the organisation in which you are based.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in any discipline, plus GCSE English and maths, 4 (C) or above. We unfortunately do not accept Functional Skills or Adult Literacy and Numeracy certificates as equivalent to GCSE.
Work experience

Applicants must also have three months' full-time equivalent relevant work experience (400 hours minimum).

In exceptional cases, applicants holding a 2:2 may be considered where there is evidence of extensive and relevant work experience.

If you have any further questions about work experience, including if you are struggling to gain sufficient work experience as a result of Covid-19, please email our MA Social Work Admissions Tutor, Dr Lisa Warwick.


Applications are made through UCAS (institution N84, course L508) and will therefore appear to be subject to the January 2022 deadline. However applications may still be considered up until June 2022, subject to availability. In your application, please ensure that you include how many hours per week your social care experience amounts to in order for us to assess whether you meet our minimum 400 hours criteria. Learn more.

Assessment and interview days

Following your application you may be invited to attend an Assessment Day, where you will undertake an observed group discussion and a written exercise. You will then be interviewed by an academic, a service user and a social worker.

If invited for assessment, you will need to sign a declaration regarding any criminal record, health condition or other matter which may affect your suitability. All students must then complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Although a criminal record or health condition will not necessarily be a barrier to acceptance, failure to disclose relevant information may subsequently result in your offer being withdrawn.

Apply via UCAS


UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. We expect fees for 2022 entry to be confirmed in August 2021.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.


Social work bursaries

The Government offers a bursary scheme for social work students. These will make a contribution towards your tuition fees, and are allocated on the quality of your application and performance at the assessment day and interview.

At the time of writing, a limited number of government bursaries are still available on this programme but as this is contingent on government expenditure there is a possibility this may change in the future.

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. Most obtain employment as qualified professionals in local authority children's or adult services. Some take up positions in the independent sector.

A number of our alumni maintain their links with our learning family by coming back to participate in guest lectures and events, or by mentoring our students in their role as Practice Educator.

Career progression

Newly qualified social workers could expect to earn £25,000 and this could rise up to £40,000 as you take on additional tasks, gain responsibilities and experience.*

* British Association of Social Workers.

81.8% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £33,070.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Social Work England

This course is regulated by Social Work England which means that once you have successfully completed the course, you will meet the professional standards to register as a qualified social worker.

You can apply for registration to Social Work England and once you are registered, your name and registration number will be listed on their public register of social workers.

Social Work England also offer an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) scheme, that gives newly qualified social workers extra support during their first year of employment.

The Centre for Social Work is a partner in the D2N2 Teaching Partnership’s academy for excellence, which is made up of partners from the social work sector, including: Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Healthcare Trust, Framework, Making Waves and SEA.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" You can achieve your goal of becoming a social worker if you put your mind to it – all things are possible. "
Muchaziva Mafuba, MA Social Work

Related courses

This content was last updated on Monday 12 July 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.