University of Hertfordshire

MSc Social Work

Social workers help people to live more successfully within their local communities by helping them find solutions to their problems. To succeed, social workers must work not only with clients but their families and friends as well as working closely with other organisations including the police, National Health Service, and schools.

During our two-year MSc programme you will learn the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the social worker role. In your first year of study you will undertake modules which provide core knowledge about social work purpose, practice, and impact, human growth and development, and the policy and legislation which underpins practice. Additionally, you will learn the key methods, interventions, and skills for working with diverse communities and service users.

The second year of teaching builds on this to explore the research evidence and practice relating to a range of social work settings and collaborative and interprofessional working to assess and manage risks and vulnerability. The programme culminates in the writing of a dissertation on a topic area in which you are especially interested.

This academic learning is complemented by two placement blocks totalling 170 days in contrasting settings and 30 days of classroom-based skill development.

Entry Requirements

The normal entry requirements for the programme are:

  • A good relevant first degree normally at 2:1 or above
  • Relevant paid, voluntary or life experience
  • Occupational Health and DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance
  • International students are required to demonstrate an English Language capability with an overall average of IELTS 7, with no less than 7 in any band

Career Prospects

Social workers practice in a wide variety of settings with a range of service user groups and settings from adoption to end of life care and from hospitals to prisons. A former a British Prime Minister was even a social worker and social work lecturer. Depending on your interest your future career could involve work with:

  • Children and their families, either to avoid family breakdown or where there is a risk of abuse of neglect;
  • Children with disabilities;
  • Young offenders
  • Foster carers;
  • Adults with physical or mental health problems;
  • Refugees;
  • Older people;
  • Carers;

Our programme will equip you with skills to practice with children and adults throughout their lives and in the full range of statutory and voluntary agencies which employ social workers.

Work placement

Placements are a key part of your preparation to become a social worker.  Our placements team will work with you to identify your learning and development needs as well as your existing experience and career aspirations to find the right placements for you.

The skills days you undertake before starting placement (20 in year 1 and 10 in year 2) ensure that you have the skills you need to begin your practice journey and the support you receive from your supervisor in practice and from your placement tutor will mean that you can make the most of every learning opportunity.  Academic modules, assignments and your portfolio of practice evidence compiled on placement enable you to develop competence in applying theory, methods and values to your practice.

You will undertake two placements in complementary settings.  In the first year you will undertake 70 days of practice placement and the second year of the programme requires you to spend 100 days in practice.  Because our focus is on your learning and on your future career these placements may be at a distance from your home and you may need to travel to take up the opportunities available to you.

Course Details

Our teaching recognises the knowledge, competence and life experience that you bring to the programme and we will build on this during the course of the programme. Module leaders on the MSc use a combination of direct teaching, guided study and independent learning. You will be encouraged to develop skills for independent learning and research that are expected and required at level 7 and in your future practice.

Teaching methods include seminars, small group discussions, case study analysis and student presentations, role play and interpersonal skills development. This is complemented by virtue learning environment (Canvas on StudyNet) and small group tutorial support. You will be taught by lecturers who constantly develop their own knowledge through research, publications, and other scholarly activities, and crucially by experienced social work practitioners, service users and carers.

You will be encouraged to develop an understanding of and demonstrate your ability to practice in an anti-discriminatory, anti-racist and anti-oppressive manner, including being able to challenge appropriately and counter discrimination.

From induction onwards, we work together to build a community of learners. During the programme you will be part of an Action Learning Set and will study and undertake assessments as part of this group. These close collaborations will help you to maximise your learning during the two years and help you prepare for your first role as a qualified social worker.

Social work is a regulated profession. As a social work student, you will be expected to register with Social Work England, the social work profession's regulator, and adhere to the standards set out in the code of Practice for Social Workers.

Year 1

The research informed practitioner

Year 2

Skills for practice 1
Skills for practice 2
Ethics, values & anti-discriminatory practice
Law and policy for practice
Human growth and development
Practice learning 1
Practice contexts
Practice learning 2
Dissertation 45 credits compulsory
Skills for practice 3

*The information’s are correct at the time of publishing, however it may change if university makes any changes after we have published the information. While we try our best to provide correct information, It is advisable to call us or visit university website for up to date information.

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