Social Work MA


Fact file

MA Social Work
2 years full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in any discipline, plus GCSE English and Mathematics, C or above
Other requirements
Applicant must also have three months of relevant work experience
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.
Applications for this course must be made via undergraduate UCAS (course code L508, institution code N84)


With significant contributions from experienced social workers and service users, this course combines university and practice-based learning and is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.
Read full overview

It is delivered through the Centre for Social Work, which works to promote social and personal change and problem-solving in human relationships and communities.

You will be taught by staff who have national and international reputations for the quality of their research and publications, and this knowledge informs their teaching.

We believe that the heart of social work lies the in relationship which social workers develop with individual service users, whether they are children, young people or adults. Positive relationships enable the social worker to support service users as they negotiate transitions and decisions in their life which may be complex and painful in nature.

Therefore, we aim to select students who have the potential to develop the qualities that service users want and need from social workers: reliability, understanding, warmth, respect, an authoritative approach to difficult issues, and the ability to get things done.

The course is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council and you will need to work within their standards.

Apply online

Applications are made through UCAS (institution N84, course L508) and will appear to be subject to the 15 January deadline. However applications may still be considered up until the 15 August, subject to availability.

Assessment and interview days

Assessment and interviewing is a two-stage process. Applicants who meet the minimum entry, and who submit an appropriate personal statement, will be invited for an assessment day. This involves a written exercise and observed group discussion. Applicants who are successful at the assessment day will be invited back for an interview.

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.


Course details

The majority of academic teaching takes place in the autumn semester of each year. You will complete a total of 180 credits of modules.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, tutorials, case discussions and experiential exercises, designed to encourage the integration of theory and practice.

Teaching and placements do not always follow the typical University calendar and you will have approximately 10 weeks of vacation during the two-year course.


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

Practice curriculum

You will be introduced to a variety of approaches to helping people through practice-based learning in a range of settings and with a range of service users. You will spend a total of 170 days in practice settings.

Each period of practice learning will be assessed against the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework and the Key Skills Statements from the Chief Social Workers in England.

We have excellent links with local agencies and an outstanding record in providing high-quality placements. Practice learning is an extremely important part of your educational experience and we work hard to ensure placements meet individual learning needs. Students and practice assessors are supported throughout.

Placements are undertaken on a full-time basis, typically within Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and you will be expected to work the same hours as other members of staff.



Year one


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.

Research Methods and Research Management

This module provides a general introduction to a range of key issues in the design and conduct of social research, plus guidance on writing both a dissertation proposal and a dissertation. The module combines more formal taught sessions with practical exercises, some of which are group-based.

By the end of the module you will be equipped with the methodological and practical skills to carry out independent research using a variety of research designs and methods.

Service User Perspectives

This module will introduce you to the unequal power relationships to which service users are subject. It will briefly consider some of the theoretical approaches to understanding how these dynamics emerge and are perpetuated.

You will then receive teaching delivered by a range of different service user group, each of which will provide perspectives on their lived experiences. You will be required to present and reflect on a chosen aspect of your own life experience.

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. 


Year two



This module will introduce you to key theoretical, legal and practice aspects of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. It will require you to engage in learning from previous situations in which social work intervention has failed to protect children or vulnerable adults from abuse.

Critical Perspectives on Social Work

This module examines the nature of knowledge in social work and some of the main social theories which conceptualise the nature of social work and its relationship to the state, society and the individual. You will be enabled to understand how different theoretical approaches provide different ways of thinking about the nature of social work in advanced modern societies and their implications for social work practice.

The theories and debates covered will include the role of research in social work and evidence-based practice; reflexivity; structure/agency, power and inequalities; psychoanalysis and the place of emotions. At the heart of the module will be a focus on developing knowledge and skills for reflective practice and a grounding of social worker-service user encounters in a relationship based practice.


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 Children and Families

This module acts as the bridge between academic learning and professional qualifying practice. It provides you with an insight into topical issues for practice through a series of workshops led by expert practitioners and/or academic staff.

Alongside these issues based teaching sessions will be run that enable and expect you to make the links between the learning and your own professional development.

Social Work with Adults

This module acts as the bridge between academic learning and professional qualifying practice. It provides you with an insight into topical issues for practice through a series of workshops led by expert practitioners and /or academic staff.

Alongside these issues based teaching sessions will be run that enable and expect you to make the links between the learning and your own professional development.



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Social work bursaries

The Government is undertaking a review of social work bursary funding and we do not currently know what will be available for social work students in 2018. If bursaries are available, 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. We will make information about bursaries available as soon as we receive it.



Graduates are eligible to register as qualified social workers with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Our postgraduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. The level of study develops vital skills and can give you a head start in the job market, enabling you to develop self-discipline and motivation that is essential for a variety of fields.

Employability and average starting salary

100% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £28,007 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £52,219.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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