You'll complete core units about the social and behavioural science disciplinary base which are central to understanding people and societies in context. You'll then move on to explore specific areas that deal in-depth with childcare and safeguarding, working with adults made vulnerable by a range of factors. This will prepare you for contemporary social work practice. Ethics and values are central to this preparation and you'll study a unit addressing the dilemmas and tensions of working in complex, uncertain situations.
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.
Models, Methods & Approaches for Social Work Intervention: Gain an understanding of the complex and multi-layered nature of social work, including the challenges of practicing professional social work with a diverse range of social work service users and carers.
Use of Self & Other - Theory & Practice: The ability to develop and sustain relationships with the diverse range of people in our society is key to excellent social care practice. A good awareness of self and other in these interactions and the ability to manage social dynamics are vital. In this unit, you'll develop essential personal and interpersonal communication skills and explore theory that will help you apply these skills in professional practice.
Law, Social Policy, Values & Ethics: Develop an appreciation of law and social policy, and explore the legal and ethical considerations for social carers practicing in a complex multi-cultural and multi-faith society, nationally and internationally. You'll explore personal and professional values and consider potential ethical dilemmas and conflicting interests in your field of practice.
Psychosocial perspectives of the life course: An opportunity to develop an awareness of human growth and behaviour across the lifespan, and different sociological and psychological explanations for this. You'll be encouraged to consider the interplay of psychosocial factors on human lives, exploring a range of influences on human development including gender, ethnicity, sexuality and disability. You'll consider the complex relationships that exist between individual development and the social structures which exist in contemporary society using a biopsychosocial framework.
Personal & Professional Development for Social Work Students: You'll be offered a range of practical guidance, support and underpinning knowledge to help you develop your capabilities against the Professional Capabilities Framework and the HCPC codes of practice. You'll also be supported to gain knowledge and skills for studying and developing a deep approach to learning in higher education.
Family Intervention: You'll acquire knowledge of social work with children, young people and their families and carers. You'll explore family as a context for socialisation and development, understand and assess children’s behaviour, parenting capacity and family interventions and incorporate the use of child observations.
Mental Health & Substance Use: Examine your beliefs on mental health and drug and alcohol use as well as your understanding of current policy and practice issues. This will help you improve your competence in responding to the needs of individuals, families and carers affected by mental health, drug and alcohol use. You'll develop an understanding of the factors that contribute towards the development and maintenance of mental health and substance use problems, the relationship between these, ways these factors can be improved and challenges and dilemmas for social work practice.
First Substantive Placement - Part A & B: These two work-based units offer essential practice experiences that you'll need for meeting professional body regulations. You'll be offered a range of practice learning experiences to help develop personally and professionally, and to work towards creating evidence of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the level required for a first substantive placement.
Working with Risk & Complexity: Develop your knowledge and comprehension of social work in the context of protection. This includes responsibilities, analytical skills and knowledge, practical skills and professional accountability in all areas of social work practice. This unit will be underpinned by research and evidence-based judgements and you will develop your understanding and competence in assessment and intervention.
Final Substantive Placement - Part A & B: A work-based unit offering essential practice experiences you'll need for meeting professional body regulations. The aim is to provide you with a range of practice learning experiences that will help you to develop personally and professionally and to evidence the PCF at the level required for a final substantive placement.
Dissertation: Embracing traditional and non-traditional forms of intellectual enquiry and practical management, the Dissertation is the conclusion of your work. It draws on theoretical and practical knowledge developed in other units of the course. You'll show your autonomous ability, within a complex professional context, to create, expand or redefine knowledge by synthesising research literature.
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 Work.
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.
The Social Work team works in partnership with our local stakeholders, which includes Social Services departments in our neighbouring local authorities and many of the varied local voluntary sector agencies.
You will be supervised in practice by qualified Practice Educators providing you with essential practice experience that will develop your social work knowledge and skills. In year one you will undertake a 70 day placement in a social care setting and in year two you will undertake 100 days within a social work team, undertaking statutory tasks.
A further 30 days is allocated to skills development.
The range of placements includes social work teams delivering services to older people, children and families or people with disabilities; hospital social work teams; residential and day care settings; drug and alcohol services; mental health services; supported housing and homelessness schemes; projects for young people experiencing home and school difficulties.
Background and experience
For Social Work, we are looking for applicants who:
- Have an awareness of the role of a Social Worker 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
- Have life experiences which may have influenced the applicant to think about a career in social work.
Students are expected to have relevant experience in social work and/or 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.
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. For Social Work, you will also be required to submit a supplementary application form outlining your interest and involvement in social care.
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 worker.
What to expect at interview
The interview day will begin with a welcome talk by a member of staff from our Social Work team. There will also be an opportunity for you to speak to current students on the Social Work programmes. You will take part in a group exercise with other candidates led by service users/carers. The service users and carers who lead this session will be considering your ability to express your own views, show appropriate listening skills, demonstrate openness to the views of others, and show curiosity about social problems.
There will a short break followed by a written test (you will be taken to a computer lab for his part of the day, as the test will be typed which will help us to evaluate your IT skills). We will be assessing your ability to express your ideas clearly, demonstrate an insight into the role of the social worker and show empathy. Content, spelling and grammar are all important.
The individual interviews will follow from 1.00pm. The interviews will finish at approximately 3.30pm. If you have a late interview time we recommend you use the time to take the self-guided tour or visit the library at Bournemouth House. Please allow a whole day for the interviews.
You can find further information about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences here.
Full entry requirements
The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:
- Possession of a 2:1 degree or equivalent professional qualification
- Maths and English GCSEs at grades A* - C or equivalent qualifications.
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) 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, 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.
IT skills are increasingly important in almost all professions. In the social work sector IT is now a vital tool for accessing and maintaining service user records, accessing literature about social work interventions and conducting practice-related research. As a student you will receive an introduction to IT near the beginning of your course and you will be provided with computer access and your own email address. During the course you will be expected to use your developing IT skills to produce assignments, to conduct literature searches, and to use agency record systems in a practice setting.
Occupational health checks
Social Work is physically and mentally demanding and we need to be sure you are fit and well and able to withstand the rigours of the course and the occupation. We will always make an offer of a place subject to passing an occupational health check, and this will be carried out at the University Hospital Southampton. There are some medical conditions that might cause a problem. Examples are: deafness, blindness, eczema (or other dermatological allergic reactions) on exposed areas, epilepsy, severe back problems and mental health conditions. If you have one of these conditions, or some other condition or disability which you believe may affect your ability to complete the course, you can contact us for more guidance.
You will be required to provide a record of your immunity status or be vaccinated or have the required blood tests. Please see this table for the required immunisations, social work students do not require a Hepatitis B vacination. You may need to ask your GP or current OH department or find your childhood vaccination record for details of your past immunisation records. You should be aware that there may be charges made (for which you will be liable) relating to your gaining the appropriate immunity required prior to starting your training programme.
Students who refuse immunisations, or who cannot be immunised for medical reasons, will be reviewed on an individual basis by occupational health. Refusal to have immunisations may result in the student not being allowed to attend practice placement and being withdrawn from the course. There is no opportunity to appeal against the requirements of the immunisation policy.
Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Check (previously known as CRB)
All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced disclosure & barred list check. This will be a condition of offer and will need to be completed prior to commencing the course. Please see the Government website for the most up-to-date information.
After completing this course, you will possess the practical skills and theoretical knowledge for embarking on a career as a social worker in a variety of posts in statutory, voluntary and independent sectors, in the UK and abroad.
Career progression may lead to you becoming a:
- Social worker
- Community care officer
- Team leader
- Service manager
- Academic lecturer.
Should you wish to work as a social worker outside the UK the Social Work Masters qualification is recognised in many countries.
If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.