At the heart of social work is the promotion of human rights and social justice, and the protection of individuals and their families.
It aims to bring about change through working in partnership with individuals, families and communities often at the point of distress and vulnerability.
Our two-year, full-time masters degree is designed for first degree students who wish to become registered professional social work practitioners.
As a registered social worker, you’ll work within health and social care teams, and with partner agencies, from the police to housing services.
You’ll often be in situations that are complex and challenging but you’ll help to bring about positive changes for individuals, families and communities.
You’ll consider topics such as how welfare is delivered across society, the psychological and sociological factors that impact on life, how the law can be used to safeguard and protect vulnerable people in society, and the ethical considerations for social workers.
It can be difficult to appreciate the difference social workers make until you’ve experienced professional practice – and that’s why you’ll complete work-based placements in both years of this course.
When you graduate, you can apply for professional registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practice as a social worker.
From working with homeless teenagers or women experiencing domestic violence to adults with learning disabilities, you could develop your career as a social worker across a number of different areas.
Our staff have excellent working relationships with employers. Employers support the ongoing delivery of the course and help you to develop your employability skills and improve your chances of finding work after you graduate.
You might work in a social services department within a local authority or for an organisation such as the NHS. Perhaps you’ll work for a private company, such as in a residential care home, or for a charity. You could also specialise in an area you’re particularly interested in, such as child protection or mental health.
As a graduate, you can apply for professional registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, which allows you to practice as a professional social worker.
Learn more about graduate careers
Applicants are expected to have a UK Honours Degree (or international equivalent) at upper second class (2:1) or above. Applicants with a lower second class (2:2) will be considered on an individual basis depending on their experience.
All applicants will also require GCSE English Language and Mathematics at Grade C or grade 4. Equivalent qualifications (e.g. Functional Skills Level 2 in English & Mathematics and Key Skills) may be considered.
Demonstration of a genuine commitment to social work and social justice is essential. Relevant experience and employment is highly desirable as is previous study in a social science or related areas.
Please note that this course does not follow traditional term dates due to the requirements of practice placements.
Social work is about the empowerment, liberation, support and protection of the most vulnerable people within our society.
Through our two-year course, we aim to help you become a capable, analytical and reflective practitioner with the ability to work in any social work service or setting.
Year one of our MA Social Work course focuses on developing your understanding of social work practice and your skills. In year two, we focus on professional development and preparing you for your role as a social worker.
Some of the topics you’ll explore include how to communicate with service users and carers, theories to inform practice and the factors that influence our journey from pre-birth right through to end of life.
You’ll consider topics such as international human rights conventions, the development of the welfare state, social constructionism, cycles of vulnerability, and contemporary issues, such as mental health.
Social work can be difficult and challenging at times and, as well as developing your academic knowledge, we aim to develop your resilience and help you to learn ways to manage the situations that you’re faced with.
You’ll have practical skills sessions and workshops, such as how to conduct a pre-birth assessment to determine the risks for an unborn baby, and how to interview families or communicate with children.
We also use high fidelity simulated learning and use the community flat, Birley Place, in the Brooks building to simulate situations you might come across as a social worker. Birley Place is a purpose-built, mock flat and it features a one-way mirror to a lecture theatre so that you can watch scenarios and learn how you might deal with situations such as a home visit. We use the flat to simulate conditions within homes that could cause concern.
You’ll learn from an academic team who have worked as social workers in areas such as criminal justice, homelessness, statutory children and families, statutory adult services, probation and substance misuse services. Working alongside the team are a number of current social work practitioners.
Staff and students have a commitment to working within community settings. Many of our team also volunteer in their own time, helping at local food banks, homeless charities, and working with the local community in Hulme to provide essentials for babies where the families are in need. There’s usually an opportunity for you to get involved in volunteering too.
Bursaries may be available for this course subject to specific criteria applied by the University and the NHS Bursaries office. For the latest information visit www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students
The following core units are completed across the first year of your course.
Read more about this year of study
Critical Theory for Social Work Practice
A critical introduction to a range of social and psychological theories that underpin and support social work analysis and decision-making.
Social work, Society and Lived Experiences
This unit is an introduction to social work within the context of our understanding of contemporary society and social justice. You'll also consider the lived experiences of those who have contact with social workers.
Applying Skills and Methods for Social Work
This unit will focus on the critical application of skills and methods required by social workers based upon the requirements of employers and reflects the contemporary evidence base for practice. Links will be made to the application of knowledge in an inter-disciplinary context on the practice placement.
Introduction to Law, Rights and Safeguarding
The aim of this unit is to provide an introduction to law, rights and safeguarding with development of legal literacy for social work practice. The emphasis will be on core elements of the law needed across social work practice.
The following core units are completed across the second year of your course.
Read more about this year of study
Applied Social Research and Evaluation for Practice
Understanding and application of principles and methods of social research and evaluation, linking this to direct social work practice and organisational delivery.
Critical and International Perspectives in Social Work
An advanced critical exploration of perspectives; theories, research and contemporary debates within chosen practice pathways.
Applying Law, Safeguarding and Inter-Disciplinary Practice
The critical application of additional law and safeguarding in an inter-disciplinary context, recognising the role of social workers as potentially lead professionals. The unit provides you with opportunities to consider interventions where there is risk of harm or abuse within defined areas of practice.
Assessment weightings and contact hours
10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:
- Full-time 30% lectures, seminars or similar; 30% placement; 40% independent study
- Full-time 95% coursework; 0% practical; 5% examination
Additional information about this course
Health checks - You will be required to complete an Occupational Health Assessment to ensure that your health does not constitute a barrier to the achievement of the programme learning outcomes or eligibility to apply for registration with the professional body. This will require the completion of a health questionnaire before or during the first few weeks of your course, followed by an occupational health screening appointment if required. Travel costs to appointments (which will be within the Greater Manchester area) will not be covered by the University. Professional Suitability - Students on programmes leading to professional qualifications are required to adhere to professional standards and codes of practice during their studies. Failure to do so may lead to exclusion from the programme on the grounds of professional unsuitability. Students will be briefed about the requirements at the start of their studies.Course specific regulations - Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies require students to achieve results that demonstrate their ability to practise safely. There are therefore some exceptions to the standard University Assessment Regulations for those students, for example limitations on resits and on compensation of failed marks.
The course incorporates two social work practice learning placements. The first placement is of 70 days duration and the second and final placement is of 100 days. The university has an excellent relationship with a range of statutory, non-statutory, voluntary and private agencies providing social work services and social work placements. Students are fully supported throughout their placements by a specialist placement team and network of experienced practice-based social work educators.
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.
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