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MSocW (Hons) Social Work

Start your career as a social worker with an advanced four-year course which knits together study and practice

Year of entry: 2020
Show year of entry: 2019

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

BBB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fees

£17,890 per year (2020/21)

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The Master in Social Work (Hons) is a professional qualification which entitles you to apply to register as a social worker: a challenging and rewarding career. 

This four-year course with an integrated Masters year provides an advanced alternative to standard three-year BA Social Work degrees. You'll gain a Masters-level qualification which is highly valued by employers. You'll have opportunities to gain experience on placements in three diverse social work settings and receive a broader grounding in the social sciences.

Through a carefully tailored programme of coursework and placements you'll gain the knowledge and skills required to lead in the development of a rapidly changing and fast paced profession. The course's integration of research, theory and practice means you will be a critically reflective social worker, able to make informed judgements based on sound analysis, often in unpredictable circumstances.

You will develop professional skills and knowledge to improve the lives of vulnerable people. Service users and carers contribute directly to our teaching, giving you an unparalleled insight into the complexities of social work. You'll gain the ability to face complex and difficult human situations with confidence, creativity, compassion and integrity. You'll learn to work alongside people and to incorporate principles of social justice into your everyday practice.

Join a thriving department, internationally recognised for its teaching and research excellence and gain a solid foundation from which to begin your professional journey.

Watch video on YouTube
Esther (BA 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.
I am pleased to have chosen York to start my journey. I can’t picture myself at a different university. Even after just a few months it already feels like home.
Vanessa, MSocW Social Work.

Read more on Vanessa's blog.

Top 20 in the UK

York is in the UK Top 20 for Social Work in the Guardian University Guide 2019 and Complete University Guide 2019

Carers and service users

You'll hear from people with first hand experience to enhance your learning as you prepare for practice.

Course content

This course follows the British Association of Social Workers Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). Throughout your four years you'll focus on the PCF's nine key domains:

  • Professionalism
  • Values and Ethics
  • Diversity
  • Rights and Justice
  • Knowledge
  • Critical Reflection
  • Intervention and Skills
  • Contexts and Organisations
  • Professional Leadership

Three placements, including two which provide statutory social work experience, will cultivate a wide range of essential skills and ensure that you are well-prepared for the realities of social work in different sectors. You will spend 200 days on placement, and complete 30 skills days which are integrated into modules throughout the course.

Study abroad

We have close relationships with international organisations and offer placements around the world. Recent destinations have included Uganda and the USA.

Year 1

In your first year you'll study four core modules which introduce fundamental social and sociological theory.

Core modules

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

The four core modules of your second year will introduce more practical elements, building on Year 1's theoretical foundation. You'll develop essential skills for social work, which you'll have a chance to refine on placement with a voluntary organisation or independent social care agency. You'll also learn how to evaluate and develop service provision, and carry out practice-related research.

Core modules

Year 3

In the first half of Year 3 you'll prepare for your first statutory placement with a range of core modules which ensure you're ready for practice. You'll explore the ethical, legal and policy contexts for social work, which will equip you to manage the competing pressures of social work.

The placement begins in the Spring Term and lasts for 70 days, alongside a module designed to support your professional development.

Core modules

Autumn Term and Spring Term

  • Readiness for Statutory Social Work Practice (20 credits)
  • Knowledge for Social Work Practice (20 credits)
  • Context for Social Work Practice (20 credits)

Spring Term and Summer Term

This counts towards the 200 days of practice which you must complete before you can register as a social worker. You'll spend 70 days at a social work agency as well as five Skills Days at the University, developing specialist techniques for working with families, groups, parents, and refugees and asylum seekers. 

You'll work with a qualified social  work practice educator who will support and assess you throughout the placement. Your placement is a chance to develop and follow your own professional interests, with guidance from our academic staff.

Year 4

As part of your fourth year you'll undertake your final statutory placement. This will take 100 days and will contribute 60 credits toward your course. You'll also choose a module that will allow you to study a particular branch of social work in more depth.

Throughout the year you'll work on your Masters dissertation. This is a 16,000-word extended essay based on your own original research. You'll work with your supervisor to choose a topic which interests you and design an empirical study or systematic literature review to explore your research question in depth.

You'll also choose an option module to focus your studies and practical skills in a specific area of social work.

Placement II (60 credits)

This counts towards the 200 days of practice which you must complete before you can register as a social worker. You'll spend 100 days at a social work agency, developing skills for career-long learning, self-care and leadership.

Dissertation (60 credits)

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

Option modules

Choose one of the following modules:

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

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

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 evaluate, synthesise and apply empirical knowledge and theoretical perspectives from across the breadth of social science disciplines to social work practice. 
  • Critically analyse local, national and international social policy and its influence on social work practice within the legislative framework. 
  • Critically engage with concepts of social justice and social change, and apply this understanding to participation in advocacy, and community and service development. 
  • 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 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.
When I visited York it just clicked. The course structure, the variety of modules and the emphasis on group work all appealed to me.
Phil, Social Work student

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,890

Additional costs

You will require a DBS check to take part in this course. You will pay £44 at the beginning of your course and a £13 update fee in subsequent years.

You will be responsible for travel costs to placements. Some agencies may reimburse travel costs. 

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.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2020/21 throughout the year.

NHS bursaries

The NHS offers bursaries for students studying social work in years 3 and 4 of their degree, subject to eligibility and availability.

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 Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

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, provide unique insights into social work practice.

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. Throughout your degree you'll participate in regular professional development group sessions, developing social work knowledge and skills.

You'll meet with your personal supervisor at least once each term. This is a member of teaching staff who will provide academic and personal support. While on placements you will receive specialist support from a practice educator or work-based supervisor who will manage your induction on the placement as well as guide you through your time there.

In order to qualify as a social worker you must spend 200 days in practice learning. This comprises 30 days on placement in Year 2, 70 days in Year 3 and 100 days in Year 4. In addition over the course of Years 3 and 4 you'll participate in 30 skills days, offering insight into a variety of social work settings.

Teaching Partnership

We are part of the Yorkshire Urban Rural Teaching Partnership, working closely with local councils and the University of Huddersfield. The partnership collaborates to develop, inspire and sustain highly-skilled and confident social workers to improve outcomes for children, adults, families and communities.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1,200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work which is based on Campus West. Most of your contact hours will be in Campus West, with some additional teaching on Campus East.

You will undertake three placements with agencies based predominantly in York and North Yorkshire. You will be responsible for arranging travel to and from your placements.

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

Most of your modules will be assessed by written assignments and presentations. We'll provide you with feedback on assignments within four weeks of submission. Types of assessment in this course include:

  • Essays
  • Written exams
  • Presentations, portfolios and reports
  • Viva (oral exam)
  • 16,000 word dissertation

Your placements are assessed by your social work practice educator. They'll assess your competence to practice by observing your interaction with services users and by reading your report. They'll also use feedback from services users and your colleagues when assessing your placement.

You'll also submit work that won't count towards your final grade. The feedback you receive will allow you to discover your academic strengths and identify areas for improvement.

The small cohorts allowed much more room for discussion and a very supportive atmosphere. The variety between lectures, seminars and workshops - often with specialist agencies - allowed us to understand real practice applications. I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at York.
Esther, Social Care Manager (Social Work, 2017)

Careers and skills

After completing the Masters in Social Work you'll be able to apply to register as a social worker in England. Some of our students choose to go on to further study, often progressing to a PhD.

Career opportunities

As well as registering as social workers, graduates from our department go on to work in a range of areas, including:

  • Advocacy and advisory services
  • Child protection
  • Community care management
  • Media, marketing and public relations
  • Research
  • Youth development work

Transferable skills

The Masters in Social Work will help you develop a range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers, including:

  • Critical analysis
  • Debate
  • Research and evaluation skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels


Access to Higher Education Diploma 21 credits at Distinction and 24 credits at Merit or higher
BTEC National Extended Diploma DDM
Cambridge Pre-U M2, M2, M2
European Baccalaureate 75 per cent average overall
International Baccalaureate 31 points overall

We also require grade 4 (C) or better in GCSE Maths and English (or a recognised equivalent)

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 of 7.0 in each component
PTE Academic 64, with a minimum of 59 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, with a minimum of 176 each component
TOEFL 96 overall, with at least 22 in Listening, 23 in Reading, 23 in Speaking, 22 in Writing
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

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.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

We welcome applications from people from a range of different backgrounds. If you have a non-traditional educational background and want to know whether you would qualify for entry then please contact our admissions tutors for an informal discussion.


Before we offer you a place we'll invite you to an interview. You'll have the chance to learn a little more about our Department as well as look around the campus. We look for applicants who have some understanding of the role of a social worker as well as the motivation to become a social worker.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Learn more

Social Policy and Social Work

Related courses

  • MA Social Work (two-year Masters)
  • BA Applied Social Science (Children and Young People)

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