School of Health Professions

MA Social Work

Professionally recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), our practice-led degree allows you to achieve professional competency and an ability to relate academic theory and knowledge to social work practice. You'll develop knowledge of social work theories and methods of assessment and intervention, as well as reflective approaches to human needs and behaviour, current social policy and law. You’ll leave us well prepared for employment in social care.

This programme is not available for 2020 or 2021 entry

Join MA Social Work in 2022

Have you considered joining BA (Hons) Social Work?

Careers with this subject

Our graduates flourish in a variety of social work roles, both nationally and internationally. Holding a masters degree opens many doors and our graduates achieve rapid promotion. Our graduates work in children and family settings with adults across a range of disciplines (for example, mental health, substance misuse, prison, hospitals, older people and end of life). Some of our graduates have moved abroad and are practising internationally.

Key features

  • Achieve a qualification with a degree recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) allowing you to apply to register as a social worker with the HCPC.
  • Develop professionally by spending 170 days in supervised practice settings - with placement opportunities in agencies, in statutory and voluntary sectors throughout the South West.
  • Two different placement opportunities support you with your generic qualification.
  • Benefit from a bursary to support you in your studies – available to many students.
  • Achieve a highly desirable qualification in social work.
  • Excellent employability - 95% of our September 2018 graduates are in employment.
  • Our teaching staff are all qualified social workers.
  • Gain experience first-hand with the involvement of service users and carers throughout the programme.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • Learn in a variety of different settings and ways and use a wide range of skills and techniques that allows you to do this. In order to begin this process, there is an induction period at the start of the programme that helps you establish supportive networks.

    Teaching and learning seminars are usually arranged on an average of three full days each week, with the rest of the week allocated for preparatory, self-directed learning. Most modules follow a similar format, especially during the first year of the programme. The learning in each module usually involves a combination of preparatory directed self-learning taught sessions and seminars. The student portal provides access to the teaching and learning material and it also has the facility for communication between you and your fellow students as well as your module leader and teachers. This allows you to work collaboratively and to have your questions addressed. This programme is not part of the Integrated Masters Scheme.

    Our lectures are three hours and are presented as seminars with plenty of student interaction. There are also opportunities to shadow qualified social workers and undertaking child observations. There are some required student presentations and aside from teaching staff, many guest speakers are invited to share their areas of expertise. There is an assessed group presentation, assignments to complete and one, open book exam, for law. Practice is assessed during the placement by a variety of methods, including direct observations of your practice, but culminates in an electronic portfolio, which is made up of evidence, reflective writing and a selection of blogs. We have a robust, timetabled, personal tutoring system, where we meet regularly in groups, or on a one to one basis. There is plenty of learning support available in the university and the Writing Cafe is open daily where you can get support and advice with your academic writing.

    Core modules
    • SCW701 Social Policy and Law

    • SCW703 Contemporary Social Work Theories and Issues

    • SCW704 Ethics and Values for Social Workers

    • SCW705 Research for Social Work Practice

    • SCW706 Integrated Practice I

      This module involves the use of knowledge, theory, methods, skills, and values in practice (within a socio-legal and procedural context). Substantially taught and assessed in service delivery settings, this module incorporates the requirements for practice learning days to be undertaken.

    • SCW709 Professional Practice

      To enable students to develop the knowledge and skills that inform social work practice, including methods and models of evidence-based social work, human growth and development, the key components of effective professional relationships, and communication skills with a range of service users, carers and professionals, both in group settings and individually.

  • Final year
  • Core modules
    • SCW707 Integrated Practice II

      This module involves the integration and critique of knowledge, theory, methods, skills, and values in practice (within a socio-legal and procedural context), as expected in the final year of the programme. Combining classroom and substantial practice based learning it provides students with a repertoire of critical and evidence based responses to complex practice situations.

    • SCW708 Dissertation

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA Social Work programme specification 4080

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements


Mathematics and English at grade C / 4 or above. Preference is given to applicants who have obtained these grades on application. Preference is given to applicants who have obtained these grades on application. Please note the institution will also accept Functional Skills Level 2 (Numeracy) as an equivalent qualification to the GCSE Mathematics qualification.


2.2 honours degree or above.

You must also have a minimum of 12 months social care experience. This can be in a voluntary capacity working within a range of groups considered vulnerable or marginalised from society.

  • You must pass disclosure and barring service and occupational health checks satisfactorily in order to be able to start this programme. Find all of the important documentation you'll need when applying for this programme.
  • If English is not your first language and you do not have GCSE English grade C or above you will have to achieve an IELTS or equivalent qualification at the grades stated below. 
  • IELTS – 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all elements. If you need to improve your English language to get onto a degree programme at Plymouth University, you can book a pre-sessional academic English course.
  • Meeting the academic minimum is the first stage of an application being considered. You must also submit a strong personal statement in order to be considered further.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU To be confirmed To be confirmed
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Postgraduate Merit Scholarship for international students

Scholarship value: £2000 off your tuition fees in year one.
You may also receive:

  • 10% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 60% or above is maintained
To be eligible you must:

This scholarship will be offered automatically, providing you meet the eligibility criteria. A separate application will not be required.

Further information about Scholarships for international students

How to apply

All applications for this course are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code (L508) and the Institution Code (P60). You are also required to populate a Campus Code and when following these instructions please select ‘Main Site’.

Apply for this course on the UCAS website.

For more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Information required by UCAS

Institution code

Campus code
There is no campus code

Application deadline
See UCAS website for deadline dates

Apply now

More information about MA Social Work

This programme is informed by a number of factors including, the different backgrounds of members of the student group, the requirements of graduate study and of social work education.

Find out more about learning and assessment

“I realised that I could potentially have that power to do something like that for other people to protect, to help and to draw insight and that was the moment that I realised that I wanted to be a social worker.”

Andrew de Cruz explains the moment he realised he was becoming a social worker.

Find out more about Andrew's story

Social work bursaries

All Universities delivering social work education receive a number of bursaries which they nominate students for. If you have been offered a place on MA Social Work, you can be reassured that a place is available, however you are not guaranteed a bursary.

Bursaries will be for both years of the MA; the number and amount of bursaries is confirmed on an annual basis.


Katy Else, performs her poem 'Patchwork Communication' for World Social Work Day, 19 March 2019

“Katy Else is a social worker with Livewell South West and graduate of the MA Social Work programme. She has twice been nominated for the prestigious Social Worker of the Year Award. Here she creatively exemplifies what social work means for her in the wonderful poem she wrote for World Social Work day 2019, entitled: 'Patchwork Communication'.” 

Clare Colton, Programme Lead

Research in social work

Research is a strong feature on the MA with many publications arising from this. You carry out a dissertation in the final year that focuses on primary research and is well supported by academic tutors.

Our research is centred around the Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research

Find out more

Social Worker of the Year Awards

Three social work graduates were shortlisted for the 2018 Social Worker of the Year Awards, which aim to celebrate the achievements of practitioners in both children’s and adult services. In 2017, Gareth Benjamin, a graduate from the BA programme in 2013, won the Mental Health Social Worker of the Year category.

Margaret Jelley, Lecturer in Social Work said:

“These successes prove that the social work programmes at the University are producing excellent social work professionals, recognised at national level.”

Learn more about the 2018 awards

English Language Centre

We offer a range of courses to help you develop your academic English language skills.

These include pre-sessional academic English courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students along with insessional language classes, tutorials and activities to support students who have English as a second language.

Find out how we can help you reach your potential.

Scholarship for international applicants to MA Social Work

A £1500 fee waiver will be awarded to international applicants who exceed the entry requirements for this programme.

You need to have a BSc (Hons) degree at 2:1 (or equivalent) OR an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) of at least 7.5 (6.5 minimum in each element).