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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: 2022/23

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

BBB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2022(term dates)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£19,600 per year

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in the UK for Social Work

Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2021

in the UK for Social Work

Complete University Guide 2022

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, which includes two years of postgraduate study, 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 practical learning, you'll gain the knowledge and skills required as a professional social worker. You will develop abilities that enable you to join a rapidly changing and fast-paced profession. The integration of practice, theory and research means you will be a competent and 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.


After completing this degree you can apply to register as a social worker with Social Work England. As a social work student you will be expected to adhere to the standards set out in the Social Work England professional standards.

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.

Employment prospects

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

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.

Year 1

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

Core modules

You will take core modules which may include:

Academic integrity module

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

Year 2

The 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

You will take core modules which may include:

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 practice.

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

Core modules

You will take core modules which may include:

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 Skills Days at the University, developing specialist techniques for working with individuals, families and groups.

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.

As part of your placement report, you will complete written work which will evidence how you have brought the knowledge gained in the classroom into your professional practice.

Year 4

As part of your fourth year you'll undertake your final statutory placement. This will take 100 days. 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; and in the ‘Power, Participation and Practice’ module you will explore how power operates in social work practice, and study methods and tools that will help you develop anti-oppressive practice.

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.

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

Option modules

Choose one of the following modules:

*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

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

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

The fees and funding figures below are for 2022/23 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £19,600

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK (home): 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 and EU students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at two per cent each year.

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.

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.

Type Amount
Textbooks Optional additional expense £30
Field trips Compulsory additional expense £0
Travel to non-UoY locations Compulsory additional expense £0
Printing, photocopying and dissertation binding Optional additional expense £20
Professional association fees, DBS checks, professional indemnity insurance, etc Compulsory additional expense £40


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 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 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 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.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures4 hours per week
Seminars4 hours per week
Practicals3 hours

These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.

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, although there may be some 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 Master 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

You'll 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

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% overall
International Baccalaureate 31 points overall
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

Grade 4 (C) in GCSE Mathematics and English or an equivalent qualification. An offer of a place will also be subject to a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and a satisfactory health declaration.

Experience working in social care, health care or related voluntary work would be advantageous.

Alternative offers

Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.

Criteria Adjustment
Widening participation If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Next Step York, Realising Opportunities. More about widening participation.
Contextual offers If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.
EPQ If you achieve C or higher at EPQ, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.
Core Maths If you achieve B or higher in Core Maths, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.

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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, with a minimum of 185 in each component
Duolingo 120 overall, with a minimum of 120 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
LanguageCert International ESOL SELT C1 Expert High Pass with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 67, with a minimum of 67 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 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 English language test 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).

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.


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. 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

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