MA Social Work / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Gender profile

Our MA Social Work course will help you become a highly effective social worker through a combination of high quality teaching and excellent practice placements.

Our course meets the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social work practice in England and the regulatory requirements of Social Work England, including the Standards of Education and Training and the Professional Standards. This course is approved by Social Work England.

You will be eligible to apply to register as a qualified social worker with Social Work England upon completion of the course. Our generic qualification enables you to work in all areas of social work practice.

You will benefit from particularly high quality placements and greater input from practising social workers through our membership of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy, a government-sponsored Teaching Partnership that ensures close links between local employers and universities across Greater Manchester.

You will learn in small cohorts with a supportive and inclusive teaching ethos and benefit from innovative and effective teaching and learning methods, including the use of simulation suites to improve your practice skills.

Each student is allocated an individual Academic Adviser who offers academic and pastoral support across the two years of the programme.

Overseas students will, in addition to the support above, receive support from the language centre and our well established international student services. The course proactively welcomes and supports overseas students.  

You will have the opportunity to work on an MA dissertation in a social work area you are most interested in with support from an allocated individual supervisor

Both placements and taught elements will help you learn how to work with a variety of user groups in a range of settings

Read more about our student's experiences on the course in these short blog posts.  


The course aims to:

  • qualify you as a registered social worker;
  • prepare you to work safely and effectively with people with lived experience of social work;
  • prepare you to promote social justice in your practice and uphold social work values;
  • engage you in immersive and effective learning environments, which focus on helping you to develop the knowledge and skills required to practice in the dynamic profession of social work;
  • produce social work practitioners who are intellectually inquisitive and motivated to pursue further learning and research and professional development throughout their career.

Special features

MA Social Work - Robert Redfin

"The staff on the course are always there to support you.

"Nothing is too much to ask, and I can't fault them for the time they have given me this past year."

Robert Redfin / MA Social Work

Outstanding curriculum

Benefit from innovative teaching and learning  methods integrating theory and practice, actively involving service users, carers and current social work practitioners.

We encourage students to take an active involvement in shaping the course.

170 days of placements

You will have two high quality statutory placements  within a local authority, voluntary or private agency, enabling you to develop into a confident, resilient and reflective social work practitioner.

Greater employment opportunities

We are a member of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy teaching partnership and have strong links with social work employers across the region.

Student support

You will receive outstanding study, placement and personal support from staff and fellow students.

Addressing the philosophy of Athena SWAN , we look to minimise early starts and late finishes, and ensure Christmas, New Year and Easter are included in vacations.

Research specialisms

Our teaching staff actively undertake research in health and social care at one of the UK's top research universities (REF, 2021).

Specialist research interests include deaf adults and children, agile working in social work practice, community and belonging, LGBTQ+ older adult care, race and sexuality, digital and material practices in children and family social work, experiences of race and culture in social work education, and learning for professional practice.

Teaching and learning

Study breakdown

You will learn from experts in social work through interactive teaching sessions incorporating lectures and workshops at the University. See the teaching and learning page for more information.

You will develop practical skills and experience through placements. See the placements page for more information.

Coursework and assessment

We use a range of assessment methods to accommodate different learning styles and learning outcomes.

These include using simulated visits and assessments, essays, case studies and group presentations. We may use other formats.

You will be assessed for your readiness for direct practice (ARDP) prior to commencing your first practice placement, and will be assessed at the end of your first and final practice placements.

Course unit details

Year 1

Learning in the first year provides a solid foundation where you are introduced to key knowledge and skills and prepared for professional practice.

You will learn about what social work is and develop necessary practice skills. You will undertake extensive skills training in simulated learning environments in order to fully prepare you for your practice placements. You will engage in experiential workshops exploring how we work most effectively together in groups.

You will explore the context social work operates in, including the social, political and legal framework including professional safeguarding responsibilities.

You will study:

  • Introduction to Social Work;
  • Social, Political and Organisational Context for Social Work;
  • Law for Social Work Practice;
  • Life Course and Social Relationships; 
  • 20 days of professional skills development;
  • a 70-day practice placement.

See a typical first year timetable .

Year 2

Learning in the second year provides an in-depth understanding of the processes that govern and inform social work processes and interventions with a range of service user groups. You will be encouraged to identify and apply relevant theories to your practice and be prepared to understand and evaluate risk in relation to safeguarding practices.

The Foundations of Research course will prepare you for completing a dissertation for your MA award.

Your dissertation provides an opportunity for you to undertake in depth study on a social work-related topic or aspect of practice. 

You will take:

  • Safeguarding Children, Adults and Their Families;
  • Foundations of Research;
  • Contemporary Social Work Interventions in Practice;
  • 10 days of professional skills development;
  • a 100-day practice placement;
  • a dissertation.

You have two options in relation to handing in your final dissertation work. You are able to study for 24 months or to graduate earlier if you complete your dissertation earlier.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Foundations of Research NURS60014 15 Mandatory
Safeguarding Children, Adults and their Families SOWK60311 15 Mandatory
Contemporary Social Work Interventions in Practice SOWK60312 30 Mandatory
Introduction to Social Work SOWK60661 15 Mandatory
Social Political and Organisational Context for Social Work Practice SOWK60662 15 Mandatory
Law for Social Work Practice SOWK60664 15 Mandatory
The Life Course and Social Relationships SOWK60665 15 Mandatory
Practice Learning and Professional Development SOWK60666 0 Mandatory
Practice Learning and Professional Development Year 2 - MASW SOWK60667 0 Mandatory
MA Social Work Dissertation SOWK60668 60 Mandatory

Scholarships and bursaries

For the latest scholarship and bursary information please visit the fees and funding page.

Course collaborators

We are a member of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy, which promotes innovations in delivering high-quality social work education in close partnership with the ten Local Authorities across Greater Manchester.

The course has strong established links with many community-based practice agencies across Greater Manchester. We also have strong and well established links with people with lived experience of social work across our region who are integral in the teaching of our course.

The course benefits considerably from input from people with lived experience, as well as current practitioners, across our teaching. See the teaching and learning page for more information.

What our students say

Visit the Biology, Medicine and Health Student Blog to find out what our students think about this course and studying at Manchester.


Home environment room
Home environment room
Mock courtroom
Mock courtroom
Clinical skills labs
Clinical skills labs

Facilities for this course include seminar rooms, IT facilities, interpersonal skills laboratories and lecture theatres.

Our interpersonal skills laboratories feature a home environment room, simulated hospital wards and even mock courtrooms.

These laboratories will be used throughout the 20 days of professional skills development you will undertake in January. 

The University of Manchester offers extensive library and online services to help you get the most out of your studies.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service who offer excellent support to social work students in their studies and whilst on placement.

Students are encouraged to contact the Disability Advisory and Support Service either before accepting an offer from The University of Manchester or as soon as possible thereafter to avoid delays in getting help and assistance.

CPD opportunities

We offer a range of units from our courses in nursing, midwifery and social work as standalone courses for continuing professional development.