School of Health Professions

MSc Advanced Professional Practice in Social Work with Children and Families

Develop your techniques for understanding, assessing and working with family issues on the MSc Advanced Professional Practice in Social Work with Children and Families. Explore the links between good social work practice and the legal context for child and family work, and the significance of being a social work practitioner in a multi-professional environment. Strongly linked to practice, assignments are mainly connected to areas of particular concern in your day to day professional life.

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This programme is part of the largest range of healthcare study options in the South West.

Key features

  • Train to become an evidence-based practitioner, equipped to manage and lead in busy and constantly changing settings. Take the opportunity to study in an inter-professional setting with inter-professional core and optional modules.
  • Benefit from our collaboration with the Faculty of Business who provide both core and optional modules.
  • Complete the programme in a year, with the introduction of a one year full-time study option. Alternatively, balance work and caring commitments by studying part time over two years and up to a maximum of five years.
  • Make the most of our blended learning, which combines short study blocks and distance learning technologies with face-to-face teaching, enhancing the learning process by allowing time for reflection. Study comprises of a mixture of lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials.
  • A range of assessments are used across modules designed to link your knowledge and skills to your area of practice. This will also enable you to develop advanced practitioner skills, including evidence-based case studies, portfolios and service delivery proposals as well as written and oral work.
  • Learn from research active teaching staff, with national and international reputations in this specialist area. You’ll be encouraged to join the faculty’s research groups, nested under the Institute of Health and Community, and will work with our experienced staff on your own research project.
  • Choose from three award pathways with full and part-time options: postgraduate certificate (PgCert), 60 credits; postgraduate diploma (PgDip), 120 credits; and masters (MSc), 180 credits.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • For further information on the modules that make up this programme please visit MSc Advanced Professional Practice module information.

    Core modules
    • ADV715 Project Design for Research

      You’ll explore methodology and methods relevant to the development of a research project and by the end of the module you’ll formulate a research proposal. You’ll learn how to define and refine a research question, select and appraise methodology, address ethical considerations, and select and appraise data collection and analysis techniques.

    • ADV702 Applying Evidence to Practice

      Focusing on the application of evidence based practice (EBP) to professional practice; you’ll learn how to use research to guide best practice. You will also identify a question relevant to your area of practice, review and critique the literature in this area, and plan and evaluate any necessary change to professional practice.

    • ADV716 Research Dissertation

      You’ll complete your dissertation as part of your Advanced Professional Practice Masters programme under supervision from the module team and a named dissertation supervisor.

    Optional modules
    • ADV745 Working in the Professional Environment with Children and Families

      This module will develop social work practitioners' knowledge and skills in working in a complex and changing professional environment, taking a systemic view of working in child welfare and safeguarding. The module will use critical case analysis and discussion to explore complex situations and creative responses to challenging families / situations / service delivery issues.

    • ADV723 Advanced Practice with Children and Families

      This module will enhance social work practitioners' existing knowledge and skills in working with complex intra- and inter-personal processes in the promotion of wellbeing and protection of children and young people. It will incorporate learning about systemic ways of working with children and families, and enhance knowledge of current research and its use in practice.

    • ADV746 Children, Young People and their Families and the Legal Process

      This module will enhance social work practitioners' knowledge and skills in working with children, young people and families in the context of interventions with a legal component. The module will develop students' ability to engage with families in complex situations, using critical analysis to consider issues of rights, powers and duties and the promotion of welfare within a corporate parenting and legal framework.

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:

MSc Advanced Professional Practice Social Work with Children and Young Families FT 4974

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


A relevant degree with honours or an equivalent professional qualification. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications will be considered on a case by case basis.


Please view the country specific pages for further information regarding the equivalency of your degree. International applicants will be required to provide evidence of their English language ability, for example by achieving an IELTS score of 6.0 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element) or equivalent. Pre-sessional English language courses are available if you do not meet these requirements.

Fees, costs and funding


Home/EU (full time) International (full time)
£6,750* £13,250
Home/EU (part time) International (part time)
£750 per 20 credits N/A

*This fee is based on undertaking 180 credits at £750 per 20 credits. Please note that some of the optional modules for this programme are specialist modules and therefore may have different fees . Module fees can be found on the individual module webpages

Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

Information about loans and funding for postgraduate study.

How to apply

When to apply

Applications for this programme can usually be made throughout the year. Please check the closing date and apply as early as possible as our programmes are popular.

Apply for this programme

Applications should be made by using the relevant PDF or Word application form.

Postgraduate application form DOC – A ten page DOC application form for postgraduate students to print, fill in and mail to the University

Postgraduate application form PDF – A ten page PDF application form for postgraduate students to print, fill in and mail to the University

International student postgraduate application form DOC – Postgraduate taught programmes application form for international students

International student postgraduate application form PDF – Postgraduate taught programmes application form for international students

Printed application forms are also available and can be obtained from the Professional Development Unit. Please send your completed application form to the address or email listed below:

Professional Development Unit
4th floor, Rolle Building
Plymouth University
Drake Circus
Plymouth PL4 8AA


Tel: +44 1752 586951

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information, to take part in an interview (which in the case if you are an overseas student may be by telephone or video conference) or you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Assist website.

Support is also available if you an overseas students applying to the University from our International Office.

MSc Advanced Professional Practice pathways

Both the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing and Midwifery offer the MSc Advanced Professional Practice programme; together we offer a wide range of specialist and generic pathways to meet the educational needs of all health and social care professionals.

Discover more about the pathways we offer

MSc Advanced Professional Practice module information for the School of Health Professions

There are a number of core and optional modules associated with the MSc Advanced Professional Practice programme pathways in the School of Health Professions, as well as three different exit awards.

Find out more about the modules

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.

Teaching and learning

The programme is designed to fit around your busy life as a postgraduate student, and enhance the learning process by giving you time for reflection between study blocks.

You’ll develop skills in reflection, analysis and critical debate, as well as increasing your knowledge base.

Discover more about teaching and learning

Research in this area

Our staff have varied teaching and research interests and come from a range of backgrounds and settings.

Meet the Programme Leader – Penelope Welbourne

My primary teaching areas are: the law relating to children and families, child care and child protection, and children's rights. I also do some teaching relating to the development of professional practice by social workers at undergraduate level.

Penelope Welbourne has research interests in the areas of child protection, child and family law and children's rights.

Learn more about Penelope