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MA Social Work

Start a career where you can make a real difference to people's lives

Year of entry: 2020


2 years full-time

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

UCAS code


Institution code


Develop yourself with a qualification that allows you to apply to register as a social worker. 

Discover a career where you can make a real difference to the quality of people's lives.

This course offers you both a Masters degree and a professional qualification. Our course lasts two years and will equip you with the skills and knowledge you'll need for effective professional practice as a social worker. It is suitable for graduates from a wide range of disciplines who are committed to a career helping people.

You'll focus on professional practice and take part in two placements in different areas of social work.

You will also gain skills and specialist knowledge that would be suitable for a wide range of careers.


After completing this Masters degree you can apply to register as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council. 

As a social work student you will be expected to adhere to the standards set out in the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

Watch video on YouTube
Maddie (MA Social Work, 2017) discusses her time at York and her experiences as a newly-qualified Social Worker at the City of York Council. Hear from more graduates of the Yorkshire Urban and Rural Teaching Partnership.

First in the UK

Equal first in the UK for the impact of our social policy and social work research Times Higher Education’s ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework

Employment prospects

Current demand for professionally qualified social workers is strong in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

Course content

The course will introduce you to core areas of social work before you choose a specialist option module exploring an area of social work that's particularly important to you.

You'll focus on the practice of social work and undertake two placements in different types of practice. The placements allow you to experience contemporary social work with the guidance of a qualified social worker. You will spend 170 days on placement, and complete 30 skills days which are integrated into modules throughout the course.


You will complete a total of 300 credits, made up of 80 credits of core modules, one 40 credit option module, a 60 credit Research Dissertation and two placements, worth 60 credits each.

Year 1

In your first year you'll study four modules, which introduce you to core strands of social work:

Year 2

In your second year you'll study one 40 credit optional module and work on your Research Dissertation (60 credits).

Option modules

Choose one of the following option modules:


You'll undertake two placements, Placement I (for 70 days) and Placement II (for 100 working days). The 70-day placement runs from February to June in your first year. You'll return to the University occasionally for advanced work on the practice and context of social work. The 100-day placement starts at the beginning of your second year, running from late August to March. You'll occasionally return to the University to study your option module and for teaching that will prepare you for your dissertation.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


During your second year, you'll complete a 16,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice. Your dissertation can be literature based or may involve a combination of research and data collection methods.

The dissertation will allow you to demonstrate your skills in research as well as applying insights from the taught modules and your placement experience.

Examples of recent dissertation titles include:

  • A case study of a community mental health team's experience using cognitive behaviour therapy for the treatment for adult depression
  • Back to real social work? The implications for the practice of care managers following the introduction of individual budgets
  • Domestic violence - whose problem is it? An analysis of multi-agency services and responses to domestic violence
  • Self harm: the experience of professionals

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Make informed decisions concerning complex problems faced by individuals, families and communities in a wide range of social work contexts, by using appropriate assessments and interventions, analysing information from a range of different sources and incorporating stakeholder and service-user perspectives. 
  • Critically apply knowledge from established, cutting-edge and social work focused social science theory and research to the assessment of complex social work situations. 
  • Identify, critically evaluate and synthesise local, national and international social policy and legal frameworks relevant to specific social work issues in order to inform decision-making. 
  • Develop strong working relationships with service users, colleagues and other professionals, and within social work and interdisciplinary teams, based on high level communication and collaboration skills. 
  • Work effectively as a professional in multi-layered organisations and statutory social work contexts by understanding and respecting the roles and tasks of others, including non-statutory professionals, and upholding professional values and ethics. 
  • Reflect systematically on social work practice and engage proactively in supervision processes in order to adapt to new situations, improve practice, build professional resilience and identify professional development opportunities, including the development of leadership skills. 
  • Design, conduct and critically evaluate challenging social work research projects, informed by a critical understanding of research and evaluation methodologies relevant to the social sciences.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £7,240£18,240

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

You will require a DBS check to take part in this course. You will pay £40 at the beginning of your course and a £13 update fee in subsequent years.

You will be responsible for travel costs to placements but can apply for an NHS Bursary to meet these costs (British citizens only).  Some agencies may reimburse travel costs. 

Course books will be available to you from the Library either in print or online format - new copies, if you wish to buy them, usually cost around £30. All other teaching resources will be available online.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Each year the NHS funds a number of students on our Social Work courses. For students on the MA in Social Work this bursary may contribute toward your tuition fees.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll learn through a blend of classroom-based and practice-based activities, including:

  • Lectures, seminars and workshops
  • One-to-one tutorial and pastoral support
  • Two practice placements of 70 days and 100 days each
  • Independent learning.

Your lectures, seminars and tutorials will be delivered by enthusiastic and knowledgeable academic staff who are experienced practitioners. Guest speakers with specialist expertise, including service users from our Service User and Carer Participation Advisory Group, will also contribute to your learning.

You will develop your knowledge and understanding with focused and guided reading and group work. For some modules you'll undertake online activities to support your learning beyond the classroom.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work which is based on Campus West. The majority of your teaching will be in Derwent and Alcuin Colleges on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Types of assessment in this course include:

  • Essays
  • Practical assessment of communication skills
  • Presentations and reports
  • Portfolios
  • Placement supervision and assessment
  • 16,000 word dissertation.

You'll also submit work that won't contribute to your final grade. This allows you to get feedback on your progress and understanding before you submit assessed work.

Careers and skills

Postgraduate social workers from York are in high demand and you will be well placed in terms of employment prospects.

Career opportunities

This course is practice-based and makes an ideal start for a career as a registered social worker. You can go on to roles with local authorities or other organisations such as charities and housing associations.

Read graduates profiles:

Transferable skills

You'll develop a range of transferable skills throughout the course, including:

  • Communication skills
  • Understanding of human behaviour
  • Exercising authority in complex social situations
  • Enabling others to achieve their goals
  • Managing risk to self, service users and colleagues.

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

Grade 4 (C) in GCSE Mathematics and English or an equivalent qualification.

You should have the equivalent of one year's full-time experience working in social care, health care or related voluntary work. Working in a caring role in a personal capacity may also be accepted as relevant experience.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, with a minimum 7.0 in each component
PTE Academic 67, with a minimum of 67 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, with a minimum of 185 in each component
TOEFL 96 overall, with a minimum of 24 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

Reduced English language requirements

We recognise the difficulties in taking English language tests due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have taken the decision to relax the English language requirements published above by 0.5 IELTS (or equivalent).

We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves and are considering further options to support offer-holders in meeting their English language conditions. Further information about our responses to COVID-19.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

If you declare you have a disability when applying you will be offered an interview if you meet the academic criteria for the course.

If you receive an offer of place it will be subject to a satisfactory disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and a satisfactory health declaration. Having either a criminal conviction or a health condition is not an automatic bar to entry. However, failure to disclose relevant information may result in the termination of your training.

Application is through UCAS, using institution code Y50 via the search. The course code is L508.

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Social Policy and Social Work

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