MA Social Work

Year of entry: 2021

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We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Degree awarded
24 months (FT)
Entry requirements

We normally require you to have an Upper Second class degree or above. This can be in any subject area. Relevant employment and/or personal experience within a health or social care setting is highly desirable.

If you have a Lower Second classification degree, your application will be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on your experience.

Students must also have GCSE English grade C by the start of the course.

We do not accept qualifications at level 2 as equivalents to GCSE English or Maths, and will only consider international and pre-GCSE qualifications as equivalents.

Full entry requirements

Number of places/applicants

40 places (under review)

How to apply

Apply through  UCAS  

Applications made directly to the University will not be considered.

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Course overview

  • Gain a nationally and internationally recognised professional social work qualification and become eligible to register as a qualified social worker with Social Work England.
  • Several bursaries, including NHS bursaries, are available for eligible students. 
  • Study at the UK's sixth best university (QS Ranking 2021).
  • Learn through methods involving service users, carers and current social work practitioners.
  • Gain practical experience during 170 days of high-quality placements through our membership of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy.
  • Undertake a dissertation in a practice area of your choice with tailored individual support and supervision.
Careers in Social Work

Open days

For details of the next University Postgraduate open day, visit open days and visits


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2021, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £8,500
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £19,000

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

* As a home student you will pay £8,500 per annum (after a £1,000 bursary from the University is applied). 

The fees quoted will be fully inclusive for the course tuition and administration costs during your studies.

All fees will be subject to yearly review. For information visit postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your qualification.

Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1,000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.


The University of Manchester bursaries

The University of Manchester is keen to support high quality education for social workers. As a home student you will pay £8,500 per annum (after a £1,000 bursary from the University is applied).

UK government funded bursaries and loans

The UK government usually provides a number of bursaries to postgraduate Social Work students on an MA. These are primarily for home students and will be for both years of study, administered by the NHS Business Service Authority

Should students be in receipt of a bursary they will, at the point of registration, be expected to pay to the University any difference between tuition fees and the bursary contribution. Applicants should apply for a bursary when they accept our offer of a place on the course.

Additional expenses

Travel costs for placements during the programme across Greater Manchester and the wider north west region can be expensive and should be included in your cost calculations. The Transport for Greater Manchester website can help you estimate costs to different sites.

Placement transport costs are normally covered via NHS bursaries and students not eligible to claim bursaries may be also able to claim placement travel costs.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

Contact details

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
+44 (0)161 543 4701
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We normally require you to have an Upper Second class degree or above. This can be in any subject area. Relevant employment and/or personal experience within a health or social care setting is highly desirable.

If you have a Lower Second classification degree, your application will be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on your experience.

Students must also have GCSE English grade C by the start of the course.

We do not accept qualifications at level 2 as equivalents to GCSE English or Maths, and will only consider international and pre-GCSE qualifications as equivalents.

English language

International students must demonstrate English proficiency through a secure and approved testing system.

We ask for English language proof if you are from non-majority English speaking countries (a list of majority English speaking countries, as defined by the UK Home Office, can be found here ).

Specifically, we require a minimum of:

  • IELTS overall score of 7 or above with no element below 6.5, or
  • TOEFL minimum of 600 (paper-based); 250 (computer-based); 100 (internet-based), or
  • GCSE English grade C (a Grade 4 in the newly reformed GCSEs in England) or above, or
  • evidence of equivalent learning that is accepted by the University.

See further information about requirements for your country .

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Relevant work experience

We require relevant work experience in a voluntary or employed capacity.

This might include work with social welfare and community groups, children or young people, older people, disabled people, or those with mental health problems.

It may also include working in fields such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse, counselling or citizen's advice, family support and befriending.

Your experience may also be in residential, hospice or supported living, youth work, nursing, working as or being a carer, or teaching those with special needs, among other areas.

We will also consider personal experience recognising that some people will gain experience on a personal basis or as a carer.

Application and selection

How to apply

Apply through  UCAS  

Applications made directly to the University will not be considered.

Advice to applicants

Applicants must apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS) and are encouraged to apply early (before the January deadline). Applications made direct to the University will not be considered.

How your application is considered

In addition to our academic and work experience entry requirements, the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) is used to assess personal statements and guide the selection process.

The PCF was developed by the Social Work Reform Board. It provides a framework for continuing professional development within the social work profession.

There are nine inter-related domains within the PCF which, viewed holistically, help us to understand the social work role. Social work is a complex activity that cannot be properly understood by viewing its contributory elements in isolation from each other.  

For more information, please read the Professional Capabilities Framework criteria.

Interview requirements

If you are shortlisted, you will be invited for interview before any decision on an offer is made. 

The interview days normally run between December and July each year. The interview day is structured so that you will have your interview in the morning and then be shown round the campus by some of our current students.

The interview process consists of a group interview, a written test and a one-to-one interview. Full information about the interview and written test will be provided if you are shortlisted.

Please note that employers/practitioners, service users and carers are involved in the assessment of candidates.

In the event that interviews are required to be held online, applicants will still be interviewed by a member of staff and a service user.

International applicants

We are able to conduct interviews for international students online eg Zoom.

Fitness to practise / health requirements

All offers of a place are subject to satisfactory health screening and a DBS self declaration (followed by an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which will be completed during Welcome Week).

For further information about the process used in the case of positive DBS disclosures, see  DBS checks  (PDF, 21 KB).

Health screening will comprise the completion of a health self declaration by the applicant, which will determine the health assessments required.

If necessary, a detailed Occupational Health questionnaire may also need to be completed and an appointment with the University's Occupational Health Department arranged. 

To be admitted and continue on the programme, students must be deemed medically fit for both practice and theory by the Occupational Health Department.

If you have any concerns about a health condition/issue and its impact on your ability to undertake the course, please contact the Occupational Health Department as early as possible in the application process. 

Tel: +44(0)161 306 5806 Email:


Please note vaccinations are not mandatory for this course but we do highly recommended having them before you start your first placement. Please click here for more information.

Disclosure and Barring Service check

All students must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check including checks against the lists of those barred from working with adults and children. Satisfactory clearance from the DBS is a requirement for this course.

See further information about DBS checks (PDF, 21 KB) including the process used in the case of positive disclosures.


If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. Your application will be considered against the standard course entry criteria for that year of entry. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications or any previous registrations at the University as a student when assessing your suitability for your chosen course.

Course details

Course description

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

Our course meets the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social work practice in England, the Knowledge and Skills Statements for children, adult and mental health social workers, and the regulatory requirements of 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 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


The course aims to:

  • qualify you as a registered social worker;
  • prepare you to work safely and effectively with service users and carers;
  • prepare you to promote social justice in your practice and uphold social work values;
  • 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 a range of innovative teaching and learning  methods that integrate 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, which will enable 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

You will have access to teaching staff who actively undertake research in health and social care at one of the UK's top research universities (REF, 2014).

Our staff's specialist research interests include deaf people and children (SORD), adoption and looked after children, agile working in practice, safeguarding practice, community and belonging, LGBT, experiences of race and culture in social work education, learning for professional practice and researching social work pedagogy.

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 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.

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.

Students have two options in relation to handing in their final dissertation work. They are able to study for 24 months or to graduate earlier if they complete their dissertations 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

Additional information for Home students- the School bursary of £1000 will be deducted from the course fees. This is in addition to the NHS bursary, for which all eligible applicants are able to apply.

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 well established links with service users and carers across our region.

The course benefits considerably from input from service users and carers, 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 .

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 .


Career opportunities

Careers destinations

Our course offers a professional qualification that is nationally and internationally recognised.

You will gain the skills to take up challenging and stimulating social work posts in a variety of fields within the statutory, voluntary and private sectors.

You will also have opportunities to practice across a range of settings and with different service user groups, including working within children, adult and mental health services.

Your future career prospects may also be enhanced through statutory experience within our Teaching Partnership.

The Greater Manchester Social Work Academy is a government-sponsored Teaching Partnership that ensures close links between local employers and universities across Greater Manchester. 

The members of the Academy are:

  • The University of Manchester
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The University of Salford
  • Ten combined Local Authorities across Greater Manchester (Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)

Qualified social workers can continue to further their education through courses and events for continuing professional development (CPD).

Accrediting organisations

As well as regulating individual social workers,  Social Work England  regulates the content and performance of social work courses.

Social work is a protected title by law, which means that on completion of an approved course, you can register with  Social Work England  to practice as a social worker. 

Practice placements are an integral part of your learning. Social Work Education provides useful guidance on the responsibilities of placements and students. Please see Social Work England .