Social Work MA

Postgraduate (2 years full-time)

Chelmsford, Cambridge


Year 1: 4 days a week at the start of the course and then normally 1 day a week plus 70 day placement, Year 2: normally 1 day a week plus 100 day placement

This course is not open to international students


Our full-time course combines in-depth professional training and tuition with high quality practice placements. Graduate and you’ll be eligible to register as a qualified social worker.

Full description


You could build a career in the various branches of professional social work, including children’s services, adult services, mental health services, youth offending, residential social care and providing advocacy and support for vulnerable groups.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Assessed Readiness for Direct Practice
    An intensive practical skills based module which takes place for 3 days per week for the first 6 weeks of the course. Students will need to attend these day and pass the practical assessment in order to progress to the first placement.
  • Social Work Knowledge, Values and Skills
    This module provides an introduction to the underpinning theory for the knowledge, values and skills that a Social Work student will require during their practice. It will run alongside the new module, Assessed Readiness for Direct Practice (ARDP).. As ARDP will provide opportunities for practising required skills, this module will enable students to learn, evaluate and critique the theories that underpin professional social work practice. It will be an opportunity for students to understand how social work as a profession fits into the wider political and social context, aspects of statutory, voluntary and private contributions to the social care field, the perspective of service users and carers and the wide range of theories and skills that are utilised in professional social work.
  • Well-being across the Life Course in a Diverse Society
    Understanding what influences people's 'well-being' is a key element in working safely and effectively in social work. This module provides an opportunity for you to examine the various factors that influence well-being. In doing so, it promotes a holistic approach to well-being to enable you to understand the broader socio-economic context in which social work takes place and to develop critical perspectives on interventions which take the various sociological and psychological factors that affect service users' well-being into account. This necessarily includes exploring critically the perspectives of service users and carers.
  • Developing Professional Social Work Practice
    Social workers need to be able to communicate thoughtfully and effectively within the context of professional and inter-professional relationships. This module therefore looks at the principles of good communication, barriers to communication and how to overcome them, as well as various useful communication tools. Linking closely to other modules in the course, this module will also help develop to critical and reflective thinking about how to put these and other skills, knowledge and values into practice. The module therefore includes sessions on: communication, reflection, anti-discriminatory practice, assessing risk and working in partnership with service users and other professionals/agencies. Placement In addition to attending special 'skills day' after which you will be assessed as 'ready for direct practice', you will also undertake 70 days of practice placement during year 1.

Year two, core modules

  • Analytical Thinking and Decision-Making in Professional Social Work
    This module provides a critical examination of key aspects of professional decision-making in social work. As part of this, it invites study of both the principles underpinning and the skills required for effective assessment and intervention in diverse areas of social work, including risk and risk management. Building on the knowledge and skills gained in Year 1, this module further encourages students to reflect critically and analytically on how to practice in ways that are anti-discriminatory and inclusive of service-user perspectives.
  • Powers, Duties and Accountability in Professional Social Work
    The aim of this module is to examine the legal and professional context that underpins the provision of social welfare services and is intended to enable you to examine and evaluate the sources of your power and structures of accountability as a local authority social worker. In addition, the module will give priority and emphasis to duties relating to the safeguarding of children and other vulnerable groups. The module will explore the quality assurance mechanisms which apply to professional social work practice, as well as the responsibilities and role boundaries inherent within multi-disciplinary and multi-agency models of working.
  • Dissertation
    The Dissertation is of central importance to the Social Work Masters award during which the student will be expected to bring together aspects of learning from previous modules as well as using this learning as the basis for planning, conducting and writing up a research or work-based project of a maximum of 10,000 words. The dissertation is a mainly self-directed module, giving students the opportunity to explore in-depth a topic which they are particularly interested in. Support for students through a series of workshops and via the supervision group. The workshops cover topics such as research ethics, qualitative research methods (e.g. date collectoi8n and data analysis). Students will also be allocated to a supervision group and are expected to liaise closely with their supervisor in developing and completing their project There are, in addition, introductory workshops at the end of the first year. In the course of your studies with us you may generate intellectual property which is defined as an idea, invention or creation which can be protected by law from being copied by someone else. By registering with us on your course you automatically assign any such intellectual property to us unless we agree with the organisation covering the cost of your course that this is retained by them. In consideration of you making this assignment you will be entitled to benefit from a share in any income generated in accordance with our Revenue Sharing Policy in operation at that time. Details of our Intellectual Property Policy and Guidelines can be found on 'MyAnglia' under Research, Development & Commercial Services or by contacting this Office for a hard copy.

Core modules available in all years

  • Placement
    You will also undertake a 100-day practice placement during year 2.

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change.


We’ll assess you for your Master’s degree through academic assignments, practice debriefs and the portfolios you’ll build up, detailing your professional development.

Your final piece of work will be a Dissertation, which must be a substantial, research-based piece of work that demonstrates your knowledge, ideas and professional skills.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education is the largest provider of health, social care and education courses in the East of England, with over 6,000 students from more than 20 countries.

With 95% of our students finding full-time employment within six months of graduating, you can be sure that our courses have been designed with your career in mind. We’ve been educating nurses, midwives and social workers for over 25 years.

At the cutting edge of research, we offer a range of internationally recognised undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses taught by friendly, supportive and experienced staff. With over 150 research students across our three doctoral programmes (PhD; DProf and EdD), we provide the multi-disciplinary perspective and potential for academic debate that reflects our position as a leader in practitioner-focused and practice-led research studies.

Designed to enhance your learning experience, our facilities include state-of-the-art simulated skills laboratories that mirror real-life clinical situations and UK hospital wards. Our students also benefit from our Early Childhood Research and Resource Centre; a space in which they can experiment with equipment and play activities.

You’ll study in an exciting, modern faculty which has strong links with regional, national and international organisations, including healthcare trusts, social services, local and regional authorities, schools and academic institutions.

Your enthusiasm. Our passion. Your best foot forward.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting a postgraduate degree with us can access a £600 bursary.

Meanwhile, our Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

International students

This course is not currently available to international students. You may be interested in our MSc Social Welfare and Social Policy degree as an alternative.

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