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MA Social Care

  • UCAS Code:
  • Institution:
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

This course gives you the opportunity to study in a high-profile and nationally recognised department and benefit from direct access to research active and internationally linked academic staff.

The programme offers eight weeks in professional social care settings with local partner agencies. Students’ practice learning is formally assessed and credited as part of the course.

The emphasis on the social and behavioural science disciplinary base is central to understanding people in our societies in context alongside more specific units of study that explore psychosocial perspectives across the life-course, use of self and other; theory and practice, law and social policy and personal and professional development in preparation for your practice placement opportunities. Ethics and values will be a central theme to your preparation for practice and you will address the dilemmas and tensions of working in complex, uncertain human situations.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


1 year

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in any subject. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.0 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners and research students. 

Core units

  • Psychosocial Perspectives Across the Life-course: This unit provides opportunities for you to develop knowledge and understanding of human growth, development and behaviour across the lifespan, and different sociological and psychological explanations for this. You will be encouraged to consider the interplay of psycho-social factors on human lives, exploring a range of influences on human development including the impact of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and disability. The unit will equip students with an understanding of key psycho-social theories, perspectives and concepts associated with life-course development.
  • Use of Self and Other; Theory & Practice: Having the ability to develop and sustain effective relationships with the diverse range of people in our society is at the core of excellent social care practice. A good awareness of self and other in these interactions as well as being able to manage the social dynamics are fundamental skills needed for these tasks. This unit aims to facilitate the development of these essential personal and interpersonal communication skills as well as exploring and understanding theory that will aid the application of these skills in professional practice.
  • Law, Social Policy, Values and Ethics: You'll develop a critical understanding of law and relevant social policy, and explore the legal and ethical considerations relevant to social carers practicing within a complex multicultural/multi-faith society. These considerations are not necessarily confined to the UK, as diverse communities will be considered, including an international and cross-cultural dimension. Students will explore their personal and professional values and consider potential ethical dilemmas and competing or conflicting interests in their field of practice.
  • Personal and Professional Development: This unit provides the essential preparation you require to develop and demonstrate your readiness and safety to undertake practice learning in agency settings. You'll gain a range of practical guidance, support and underpinning knowledge to begin to develop your capabilities within a practice setting and to further equip students with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to study and develop a deep approach to learning in higher education.
  • Two Placements: These placements provide essential practice experience you will require in working toward an MA Social Care. The aim is to provide you with a range of practice learning experiences that will enable you to develop personally and professionally and to develop a critical understanding of frontline social care practice in England.
  • Preparing a Master's Level Dissertation: In this unit you will develop an understanding of research design, methods, perspectives, and research ethics as a precursor to undertaking a practice development project for the dissertation. You will develop your knowledge of critically reviewing literature related to research design, methods, perspectives, and research ethics as a precursor to undertaking a master’s level dissertation.
  • Dissertation: This unit embraces both traditional and non-traditional forms of intellectual inquiry and relevant practical management. It is the culmination of a student’s work within the chosen pathway and draws on conceptual, theoretical and practical knowledge, developed in other units of the programme. It demonstrates the student’s autonomous ability, within a complex professional context, to create knowledge that expands or redefines existing knowledge by critically synthesising the research literature.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MA Social Care.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For Social Care, we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have an awareness of the role of a Social Carer within society
  • Have a non-judgemental attitude, an appreciation of diversity and self-awareness, flexibility and openness to new ideas
  • Can demonstrate relevant skills such as listening, negotiating and advocacy.

Students are expected to have relevant experience in social care and show that they have learnt from this experience. The longer and more varied that experience, the better. Examples of the sort of experience that candidates often have are:

  • Employment as a carer in a residential home
  • Being a volunteer in an agency working with young offenders
  • Paid or voluntary work in a day centre for people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or mental health problems
  • Work on summer play schemes and/or after school clubs
  • Personal experience as a service user or carer.

Selection methods

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages. 

Please note that all successfully shortlisted applicants are invited to interview. This will demonstrate whether you show the necessary insight into social work, as well as the motivation and commitment to become a social care worker. Find out more about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences.  

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in any subject 

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.0 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


After completing this course, you will possess a solid understanding of the core concepts in social and behavioural sciences and contemporary social care practice, which can be applied to a career within the social care sector.

Career progression may lead to you becoming a:

  • Care home manager
  • Practice manager
  • Senior practitioner
  • Social work manager
  • Special needs education advisor.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service Check
  • Occupational Health Check

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: find our price guide 
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages 
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendance), you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the nutrition sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below. 

Dr Richard Williams

Richard's passion for 'making a difference' to children, young people and families, is central to his academic work.

Having joined BU as a Senior Lecturer after his years in practice, he continued to focus his teaching, writing and research on outcomes in general and the positive impact of social work in particular.

Working at BU has allowed Richard to extend his interest in managing hostility and mediation and to apply this to teaching across different disciplinary groups.

Richard currently project manages a research project 'The Heart of the Matter' commissioned by the Bournemouth & Poole LSCB into the child protection processes and procedures. This work has successfully engaged with professional groups as well as parents, significant other adults and children and young people.

Jill Davey

Prior to joining Bournemouth University (BU) in May 2003, Jill held both strategic and managerial positions in relation to social work. Jill’s last post in practice was that of a Principle Education Officer within Bournemouth Local Authority.

Jill’s currently undertaking a PhD, which has drawn on research from the UK and South Africa, where she undertook a five week field work study in Zululand, South Africa. In October 2014, Jill was awarded a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of my success as a high quality educator.

During Jill’s time in practice, she held specialist posts including managing a social work service to all Bournemouth Local Authority and Independent Schools. Jill retained responsibility for ensuring all children, living within the Bournemouth local area, were effectively achieving their optimal educational outcome and effectively safeguarded from harm or abuse. Jill also took the Education lead for the Local Authority on Serious Case Reviews.

Dr Mel Hughes

Mel is a Senior Lecturer in social work and a practice educator with specific interests in the student experience, practice learning, mental health and substance use.

Mel’s research includes articles on:

  • The impact of service user and carer involvement on students' subsequent social work practice: a follow up study
  • Developing standards of care in residential homes: A participatory Action Research project in collaboration with The Patient Association
  • Gaining insight into what works to minimise loneliness and isolation. A participatory action research project in collaboration with the Poole Wellbeing Collaborative
  • Principal investigator: evidencing the impact of service user involvement in professional health and social work programmes
  • Principal investigator: Parents Story Project: Gaining insight into parental substance use

Dr Margarete Parrish

Margarete Parrish’s career in social work began with her MSW from the University of Georgia in the US, where she specialised in Mental Health Social Work. Her PhD in Social Work is from Rutgers University, where she also specialised in Mental Health. Her practice background has been in both medical and mental health settings. Her practice specialities include adaptation following trauma, adolescents, mental health and substance misuse.

Margarete has taught in the UK since 2004, and joined the social work team at BU in January 2013. The second edition of her book “Social Work Perspectives on Human Behaviour” was published in 2014.

Course changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text
25/05/2017 The incorrect IELTS were advertised on the website, the correct information is: 

IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component or equivalent 

Full entry requirements 

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

Additional information

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