Social Work MA

The MA Social Work programme offers professional training that will prepare you to register with the HCPC as a professional social worker.

The MA in Social Work is an exciting programme which will enable you to obtain a professional qualificationas well as a Masters degree. Committed to social justice, anti-oppressive practice and relationship based social work and drawing upon a number of disciplines informing social work practice, it includes the study of social work values, knowledge, law, theories, methods and skills. 

Social work is a rewarding career where you can make a real difference to the lives of individuals, families and communities. 

survivor arts
  • The programme will offer enhanced learning, facilitated through the involvement of a range of contributors, including service-users and carers, professional social workers and academics.
  • Opportunities for involvement in projects such as the Survivor Arts Exhibition will allow you to move beyond the core curriculum and explore different ways of seeing the world and more creative ways of working. 

Apply for the MA in Social Work


We can confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who intend to start their studies in 2018 or 2019 will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time (may be subject to annual increases for inflation) for the duration of their course. The Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan will also be available to eligible EU students for the duration of their course. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

The social work education programme at the University of Birmingham is the oldest in the country and we are proud of our history.

Year 1

In Year 1 you will have the opportunity to develop core academic knowledge and skills and will study five academic modules:

  • Research/dissertation year 1
  • Law for professional practice
  • Social identity, citizenship and social work practice
  • Social Work skills, values and approaches
  • Theory and methods module linked to your first professional practice learning placement and an associated academic assignment

The social work regulatory body, the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) requires that before our students go out onto placement that they have the basic skills needed to work with a wide variety of people and talk to service users with understanding and respect. As part of this skills development you will be required to undertake a Practice Orientation period with a local organisation. During this period you will be oriented to core processes of referral, assessment, multi disciplinary working - including engagement with service users and you will be assessed on your professional behaviour. You will also undertake Readiness for Practice Learning Interviews, role plays carried out with service users and carers. This way we ensure that students meet the basic standard before they go out into the 'real world'.

We work in partnership with Birmingham City Council, who provide the majority of the placements, and a range of voluntary and private sector organisations. We also have a few placements with some neighbouring local authorities. However, we cannot guarantee any placements outside Birmingham itself and so students who live outside Birmingham will be required to travel. The placements on offer are challenging and also very rewarding. Some of the areas of social work covered on placement are:

  • Family support and prevention
  • Domestic violence
  • Refugee and asylum
  • Special educational needs
  • Fostering
  • Child Protection
  • Disabilities
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental Health

The placement in year one is for 70 days. All students will have a practice tutor and practice educator who is a qualified registered social worker and they might also have a day-to-day supervisor called a practice supervisor.

Students should be aware that placements in particular areas of interest are not guaranteed. However, all placements are quality assured, meet required HCPC and College of Social Work standards and provide a wide range of learning opportunities which are transferable to any setting, and have international relevance.

Year 2

In Year 2 you will undertake a further 100 days of professional practice learning which, in line with HCPC requirements, will be with a different service user group in a different agency setting. All students will have the opportunity during at least one of their practice placements to undertake some statutory duties.

In conjunction with this you will again have the opportunity to reflect upon your learning in preparation for and within practice. Students will undertake learning in relation to work with both children and families and adults and communities and this will be incorporated within a framework which encourages students to adopt a ‘think family’ approach to social work. Teaching and learning will concentrate on cross-cutting issues for practice around risk and protection, whole-family approaches, collaborative working, and strengths based approaches.

Also in this final year you will develop, conduct and write-up in the form of a dissertation, an individual piece of literature and/or empirical based research in an area of social work you are particularly interested in.

The programme welcomes applications from international students who will undertake the same placements as UK students and obtain a detailed understanding of the operation of the English social work system. 

Fees and funding

Fees for entry 2019/20:

Code: 5934 £7,425 f/t (UK/EU students)

When you apply for this course, it is important that you also take into account living costs and should ensure that you will have sufficient funds to finance the full duration of your studies. Our Social Work programmes include a significant amount of time spent on placements in a variety of settings, and so when budgeting to study you should also allow for travel to and from placements, as well as textbooks, printing, photocopying and stationery that you may need.

NHS Bursaries:
For the latest information regarding bursaries, please refer to www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students.

You can download a copy of the Reforming social work bursary information pack and a copy of the Reforming the Social Work Bursary consultation outcome from the Department of Health website

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. More information may be found on the UK government website.

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships may be available.

For further information contact the Department directly or contact the Student Funding Office.

Entry requirements

The entry requirement is an upper second-class (2.1) honours degree classification or higher and a minimum of 3 months or 60 days related social care experience (related personal experience will be considered but only alongside practice-based experience). Equivalence is reviewed for international students. Applicants with a 2:2 degree classification may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, if they have further related postgraduate study. We also require GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or certificated equivalent level two numeracy and literacy qualification.  

If your qualifications differ from those listed here, please contact the central Admissions team for guidance.

Applicants must confirm prior to interview/offer decision making that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet browsing and the use of mail, and be asked to specify how these skills have been obtained.

Please note that work experience is not considered in lieu of meeting the academic entry requirements. You will be required to meet the practice element in addition to meeting the academic criteria.

A Disabled Person's Guide to Becoming a Health Professional

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) have produced a document called 'A Disabled Person's Guide to Becoming a Health Professional' for people with a disability or long-term health condition. You can obtain a copy of this on the HCPC website

Find out more about the University of Birmingham's Code of Practice on Admissions

Learn more about entry requirements

Additional information:

  1. Applicants must show, in the appropriate section of the application form, that they meet or intend to meet, all of the academic criteria.
  2. Their ability to meet the academic criteria should be confirmed in their academic reference.
  3. In addition to this, applicants must provide details, within their personal statement, of their related personal or social care experience and the influence this has had on their commitment to and understanding of, social work. A subsequent practice reference will be required if an offer is made.
  4. Their personal statement should also provide evidence of their ability to write in a clear, coherent and accessible style.
  5. Shortlisted applicants may be required to read a short academic text and complete a written exam on their understanding of general issues related to social work.
  6. Applicants completing this test may then be invited back for an interview. In some instances some applicants will attend the interview before the written exam.
  7. Selected applicants will be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and Delcaration of Suitability for Social Work form before registration on the programme.
  8. Where an applicant has disclosed a criminal offence, they will be asked to provide further details on this offence in a letter to the department.
  9. A satisfactory social care practice reference will also be required.
  10. All students will be required to sign the Fitness to Practise Code of Conduct on entry.
  11. Please note that work experience is not considered in lieu of meeting the academic entry requirements. You will be required to meet the practice element in addition to meeting the academic criteria.
  12. Although all modules on our social work programmes are compulsory, the university APL policy allows us to give credit for learning that has been asssessed and certificated by another HEI. Any applicants wishing to apply for entry to years 2 or 3 of the BA programme, or year 2 of the MA programme, can note this on their UCAS form. Any potential applicants are invited to contact the admissions tutor to discuss their situation in further detail, as each is considered on a case by case basis.

Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) documents

Applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the:

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Applicants for this programme should apply via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and not via the University. Please apply online at www.ucas.ac.uk/apply or request an application form from UCAS (Tel: +44 (0)870 1122200 or email: app.req@ucas.ac.uk). The UCAS code for this programme is L502.

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students (Tier 4) who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date. The deadline for Home/EU (non-Tier 4) students is Friday 21 September 2018. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry on Monday 1st October 2018.

Support

Upon joining the programme, you will be allocated your own individual academic tutor who will be there to support and guide you with your academic studies. There is also a dedicated Welfare Office within the Department.

The University offers a wide range of learning support services for students including career, disability and dyslexia support services as well as international student support. Individual counnselling, workshops and groups are also available and the Guild of Students also offers support and advice around managing the demands of student life.

Blended learning approach

You will learn about social work practice and online professionalism through a blend of learning methods. These focus on promoting independent learning and include a mixture of engaging life-like case studies, formal lectures, small group work, research and skill development through role play and joint working with service user and carer colleagues. Social media, interactive web-based study and other self-directed activities also add a real-world perspective to the learning you will undertake.

Assessment methods

Assessment methods include written assignments; group presentations; video assessments; examinations; portfolios; and research projects.

This degree leads to an MA in Social Work with the Professional Qualification in Social Work which provides eligibility to apply to register with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). This is the qualification required to practice as a professional social worker. As well as equipping you with a professional qualification, gaining the MA allows you to progress on to post qualifying courses or to apply to continue with your academic studies at PhD level.

On successful completion of the MA Social Work, you will be equipped to work in a wide range of areas. The specialist options built in to the Masters will allow you to direct your knowledge and expertise to the area you would like to work in once you have completed the programme, giving you a competitive advantage in the voluntary, private and statutory sectors.