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Social Work MA

Overview

Working in this sector is very rewarding. Social workers help some of the most vulnerable people in society. The role provides support and assistance to a host of individuals, families and groups, from the homeless to people with learning and physical disabilities. Social workers often spend their time with people – be it at hospitals, care homes or at people's homes, assessing their circumstances and building relationships.

This is both an academic and a professional qualification with all successful graduates are eligible for registration as professional social workers with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The aim of the programme is to develop practitioners who can meet the needs of the service users, carers and communities in the context of a complex and changing welfare environment. Founded on holistic, service user-centred model of care, the course produces creative, innovative and reflective social work professionals committed to working in partnership to promote well-being and make a real difference.

On MA Social Work practice-based learning complements university-based lectures, seminars and workshops, drawing on established, contemporary and innovative approaches to work with a diverse range of service users. The course is underpinned by a commitment to inter-professionalism, service-user and carer empowerment and involvement, anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory values and evidence based practice. The course adopts a systematic approach to the development and assessment of your social work skills and includes a specific programme of social work development.

There are five core areas of knowledge and understanding relevant to social work:

  • Social work services and the needs of service users
  • The service delivery context
  • Values and ethics
  • Social work theory
  • The nature of social work practice.

These areas are systematically explored throughout the course in relation to the key roles of social work, which include:

  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Support
  • Managing risk
  • Managing your own practice
  • Demonstrating professional competence.

Employment based route

It is also possible to study the MA Social Care on an employment based route (EBR). Candidates need to be sponsored and supported by their employing agency to undertake this. It is taught alongside the existing MA Social Work and the structure is the same, but students have the option of doing the dissertation in a third year and completing their qualification over a three year period.

Accreditations

Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
Mode
Part-time (EBR)
Duration
3 years
Start Date
September
Location
Southwark Campus
Mode
Full-time
Duration
2 years
Start Date
September
Location
Southwark Campus
Mode
Full-time (EBR)
Duration
2/3 years
Start Date
September
Location
Southwark Campus

Stories

  • Anna Mayer, BA (Hons) Social Work student

    BA (Hons) Social Work student Anna Mayer knew that to progress her career in a helping or caring profession, she would need to gain a qualification in social work.

  • Thomas Petit, BA (Hons) Social Work

    Thomas Petit had grown dissatisfied of his previous occupation, so after a period of self-reflection, he identified social work as the career he wanted to pursue.

Modules

Some compulsory skills sessions may take place in the evening.

Year 1

  • Readiness for direct practice
    This module develops practice relevant skills and awareness of the social work role and responsibilities. It will ensure that you are ready for your initial period of direct practice and to provide you with a foundation for skills development throughout the programme.  Service users, carers and practitioners will be involved in the development, delivery and assessments of the module. 
  • Human growth and development
    This module critically explores a range of human growth and development theories across the life course in order to facilitate understanding of ordinary development and the impact of life events, disability, abuse, mental health issues, drug and alcohol use on development throughout life. You will complete a series of child observations over the period of the module which provide a key opportunity to integrate theoretical knowledge with practice, and to develop reflective skills. 
  • Practice placement 1
    70 days practice learning in practice placement. 
  • Social work Law
    This module introduces legal context and statutory responsibilities of social workers in England and Wales.  You will be familiarised with the basic principles of English Law and the systems through which the legal process operates. You will be enabled to develop a sound understanding of the key legislation relevant to professional practice.  There is a strong focus on the key major current legislation Children Act (1989), the NHS and Community Care Act (1990), the Mental Health Acts (1983 and 2007) and the Mental Capacity Act (2005).  The module aims to ensure that you not only understand relevant law but are also able to apply it to specific areas of practice.  The module familiarises you with the powers and duties of social workers and others in relation to children and families, and vulnerable adults.  It also examines the implications for social work practice of the UK legislation on discrimination and the implications of the incorporation into UK law of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
  • Methods and theories for practice
    This module introduces the core body of knowledge clustered around the major social work theories, processes and methods.  A major emphasis will be on anti-discriminatory practice, evidence based practice and critical reflection.  You will learn about a range of theoretical perspectives and methods of intervention and their application in practice. 

Year 2

  • Society and ethics
    This module brings together selected key areas of social policy and ethics relevant to social work. There will be a strong emphasis on the use of social policy to illuminate the challenges facing and social work in contemporary British society. Using a critical analysis of the impact of neo-liberalism and globalisation the module will be a focus on the ethical dimensions of decision making and practice delivery of policy. You will be encouraged to engage with contemporary debates and controversies associated with social work and to relate your work in class, with your reading and developing practice. 
  • Professional capabilities in social work practice settings
    This module covers the four settings of social work; disability, adults at risk, mental health and child and family. It is focused on gaining familiarity with the process and delivery of social work services, with particular regard to safe-guarding and empowering service-users. 
  • Communication and collaborative working
    This module explores the values, knowledge and skills required for effective communication, intervention and collaborative working. It provides a theoretical context for further skills development in the second year via skills days and practice placement. It builds upon the Year 1 modules, readiness for direct practice and methods and theories for practice.  The module enables you to engage with the values and concepts and challenges of collaborative working with service users, carers and other professionals and agencies.  Within this framework it addresses issues related to communication with specific service user groups and in particular circumstances such as working with resistance and conflict. It aims to enhance communication skills required for using particular methods and models of social work intervention. 
  • Practice learning placement 2
    100 days practice learning in practice placement. 
  • Limited systematic review dissertation
    This module provides the opportunity to undertake a limited systematic review into a contemporary and novel topic of choice with reference to the specific profession of social work. The findings would add to the professional evidence base. Dissemination of findings by publication is encouraged and expected. 

Recent guest lecturers

  • Professor Joan Orme, Glasgow School of Social Work
  • Professor Jan Fook, University of Southampton
  • Pam Trevithick, author of 'Social Work Skills'
  • Creating sustainable futures: defeating the politics of austerity, Social Work Action Network Conference, April 2013
  • Partnership in Social Care at a Time of Cuts, March 2012
  • Neo Liberalism vs Social Justice: is social work ready for the challenges of the future? Social work student conference, February 2010

Employability

Social work as a career

You will normally specialise in a certain group of society, such as children. Much of the work is around helping decide the level of support or protection required, responding to requests for help and working with other agencies and professionals for the best outcomes. Most opportunities are with local authorities, where salaries can vary substantially between regions - you are likely to earn more working in London. However there are also opportunities available at private care homes, charities and NHS Trusts.

A patient, non-judgemental mind-set is needed, with the ability to communicate effectively with a host of different people and gain their trust. The work demands a level of resilience and a genuine desire to help people, as some cases may be disturbing, and some people won't want your help.

Career progression

On graduation you will be eligible to register as a Social Worker, with starting salaries ranging from £19,500-£25,000, with this possibly rising to £40,000 with experience and further responsibilities. (National Careers Service)

After qualifying as a social worker there are a variety of postgraduate professional development courses you could undertake. To find out more about what's on offer visit our online CPPD prospectus.

Employability Service

We are University of the Year for Graduate Employment for the second year in a row - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, 2019.

At LSBU, we want to set you up for a successful career. During your studies – and for two years after you graduate – you’ll have access to our Employability Service, which includes:

  • An online board where you can see a wide range of placements: part-time, full-time or voluntary. You can also drop in to see our Job Shop advisers, who are always available to help you take the next step in your search.
  • Our Careers Gym offering group workshops on CVs, interview techniques and finding work experience, as well as regular presentations from employers across a range of sectors.

Our Student Enterprise team can also help you start your own business and develop valuable entrepreneurial skills.

Placements

Staff

Michelle Evans

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Primary and Social Care
Job title: Senior Lecturer - Social Work

Michelle’s special interests are in sensory awareness (deafness, deafblindness including Usher syndrome, and visual impairment) and phenomenological qualitative research.


Martyn Higgins

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Primary and Social Care
Job title: Associate Professor - Social Work

Martyn's areas of professional expertise are child protection, law, ethics and social policy.


Dr Andrew Whittaker

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Primary and Social Care
Job title: Associate Professor

Andrew Whittaker is an Associate Professor in Social Work (half time) and Health and Social Care Research (half time).


Jill Yates

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Social Sciences
Job title: Course Director - Practice Learning Social Work

Jill Yates specialises in practice learning and practice education with interests in service user involvement in teaching and learning and its application to developing innovative practice placements.


Facilities

Teaching and learning

Entry requirements

  • A Bachelor degree equivalent normally to a UK Second Class Honours Upper Division (2:1) or above in any subject
  • GCSE passes in English and Maths (at grade C or above) or a recognised equivalent
  • You should be at least 21 years of age on application and will be required to present evidence of social work knowledge and social care as well as work experience in some aspect of social work/social care full-time over six months, or the equivalent part-time (e.g. 15 hours per week over one year in voluntary work). At least some of this experience needs to be in the UK

We are proud of our diverse student group and positively welcome those from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups. 

Selection criteria

Selection is by written essay and individual interviews.

The selection process addresses the following key areas:

  • The ability to communicate clearly and accurately, verbally and in writing
  • Analysis and critical thinking skills
  • A knowledge of social work, and an understanding of the perspectives of service users and carers
  • Motivation to qualify and practice as a social worker, and an awareness of the personal qualities social work requires
  • An understanding of diversity and difference in the context of social work

For full details on the staged application process read the How to apply tab.

Self-certification of medical fitness to practice and Disclosure Barring Service Check (DBS)

In line with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) requirements, any offer of a place is conditional on a clear police check and self-certification of medical fitness to practice.

Candidates who are successful at interview and accept a place on the course will be expected to pay for an enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check.

English language

For those whom English is not their first language must achieve a minimum score of 7.0 overall or equivalent with not less than 7.0 in the listening and reading sections and not less than 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections for the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) at the time of application.

How to apply

Instructions for Home/EU applicants
Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
Mode
Part-time (EBR)
Duration
3 years
Start date
September
Application code
4356
Application method
Mode
Full-time
Duration
2 years
Start date
September
Application code
L508
Application method
Mode
Full-time (EBR)
Duration
2/3 years
Start date
September
Application code
4357
Application method

Although this is a postgraduate course all students apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details of how to do this are supplied on our How to apply webpage for undergraduate students.

If you want to study on the employment based route, please contact the course director, Joanna Rawles: rawlesj@lsbu.ac.uk or +44 207 815 8492, before making your application.

Personal statements

Remember the personal statement on your application is extremely important. This is essentially a selling tool on why you are right for the course. The personal statement is taken into consideration when shortlisting applicants for interview. Download our personal statements guidance (PDF File 80 KB) to help you write your personal statement.

Selection criteria

The selection process addresses the following key areas:

  • The ability to communicate clearly and accurately, verbally and in writing
  • Analysis and critical thinking skills
  • A knowledge of social work, and an understanding of the perspectives of service users and carers
  • Motivation to qualify and practice as a social worker, and an awareness of the personal qualities social work requires
  • An understanding of diversity and difference in the context of social work

Interviews and written essay

If you have been successful in your application, you'll be invited to attend an interview day where we'll discuss your ambitions to work in social care and ask you to complete a short piece of written work.

Before you attend your interview you'll need to download and complete a Declaration of Character and Conduct Form and return this to lsbuadmissions@lsbu.ac.uk. You must also complete the PgDip/MSc Social Work Pre-Interview Questionnaire. (PDF File 35 KB)

You may find the following documents useful when preparing for your interview:

Disclosure Barring Service and medical fitness

In line with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) requirements, any offer of a place is conditional on a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check and self-certification of medical fitness to practice. Candidates who are successful at interview and accept a place on the programme will be expected to pay for an enhanced DBS check.

Postgraduate Application Service

Book your time with one of our specialist Postgraduate Advisors. Over a one on one Advice Session they'll advise you on postgraduate degrees at LSBU that match your interests and experience. And when you're ready to apply join one of our Postgraduate Application Sessions. There, we take small groups of up to four people through the application process. Look online for the next of our Advice Sessions or Postgraduate Application Sessions.

Fees and funding

Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.

Full-time
Part-time
The fee shown is for entry 2019/20.
UK/EU fee: £4000International fee: £8440
AOS/LSBU code: 4357Session code: 1FS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £11500
International £24370
The fee shown is for entry 2019/20.
UK/EU fee: £4000International fee: £8440
AOS/LSBU code: 4356Session code: 1PS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £11500
International £24370

Social Work Bursary Scheme

If you are applying to a Social Work course you may be eligible to receive a non-income assessed basic bursary awarded by the NHS Business Services Authority . This is dependent on where you study and whether you study full-time or part-time. The amount of the basic bursary for undergraduate students is dependent on whether you are subject to variable tuition fees. Postgraduate students may also apply for income assessed elements.

In April 2013 the Department of Health announced new arrangements for the Social Work Bursary Scheme. In summary the new arrangements are:

  • There will be a cap of numbers of bursaries at postgraduate level, which means there is no guarantee of a bursary for students applying for a Social Work course at university
  • The postgraduate bursary will be retained as is for the two years of study and will include: the basic bursary, indicative travel expenses for placements and a contribution to tuition fees
  • Fees for Year 1 are made up of 60 credits
  • Fees for Year 2 are made up of 60 credits and the cost of the dissertation which is a further 60 credits
  • You should therefore note that fees for Year 2 are double that of the fees for Year 1 and any bursary you are granted will only cover part of your fees
  • You remain responsible for payment of any fees over and above the amount of any bursary granted
  • If eligible, you may also receive disabled student allowance, income assessed maintenance grant, income assessed adults dependent allowance and income assessed parents learning allowance
  • You are able to apply for a Career Development Loan to help cover the costs of the course
  • Practice placements travel expenses will continue to be paid to those who do not receive a bursary but would have under the previous scheme

For further information on the Social Work Bursary Scheme and Bursary changes to Social Work courses please refer to the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Postgraduate Advice Service

You are invited to book a one-to-one appointment with one of our Postgraduate Advisors. They offer a 30 minute face-to-face session where you can get tailored advice on fees and funding.
Book a 1-2-1 Advice Session

Stories

Select a case study and read about practical project work, student's placement experiences, research projects, alumni career achievements and what it's really like to study here from the student perspective.

  • Anna Mayer, BA (Hons) Social Work student

    BA (Hons) Social Work student Anna Mayer knew that to progress her career in a helping or caring profession, she would need to gain a qualification in social work.

  • Thomas Petit, BA (Hons) Social Work

    Thomas Petit had grown dissatisfied of his previous occupation, so after a period of self-reflection, he identified social work as the career he wanted to pursue.

  • Kasia Nowinska, BA (Hons) Social Work

    Kasia Nowinska studied BA (Hons) Social Work at LSBU after deciding she wanted a job that would give her satisfaction and make a difference.

Prepare to start

Disclosure Barring Service (DBS)

All pre-registration students need to be DBS cleared before going on placement. You’ll need to have an enhanced DBS check even if you have had one before and will not be able to go on placement until this is complete.

The DBS process is not difficult but can take some time so it's best to get started as soon as you receive your email.

DBS update service

If you're part of the DBS update service, your subscription is up to date and you already have a DBS certificate, please email a copy to hscdbsoh@lsbu.ac.uk and then bring in your hard copy for the document check. To take advantage of the update service, your certificate needs to be classified as 'Enhanced' and workforce must be listed as 'Adult and Child'. If you have any queries, please email us at hscdbsoh@lsbu.ac.uk.

How to complete your DBS

Our DBS supplier, Verifile, will send you an email with all the details you need to complete your DBS.

Verifile will give you instructions to log into their system and complete your personal details and information. To complete the process, you'll need your passport or driving licence and 5-year address history including dates when you moved in/out.

You can use your application number to track the progress of your DBS.

When you've finished, your Disclosure Statement will be mailed to the most recent address in your submission, so please make sure it's correct. We don't automatically receive a copy of this Statement, which is why we need you to bring it in as part of the next step.

Frequently asked questions

  • Only Social Work applicants need to pay for their DBS. It costs £46 and can be purchased on our online store.

  • Please include any and all major and minor, spent and unspent convictions, cautions, warning and reprimands, even if they relate to juvenile offences or seem trivial or unimportant. Some minor offences will not prevent you from going on placement or being offered a place on your course, but still need to be reviewed so it’s best to be honest and include everything. Also, the more information you include about any offences can help reduce the time it takes to assess them.

  • Yes, you do. You need to have an up-to-date DBS. Once you have received the email from our DBS supplier make sure you start the process straight away. All details of how to do this will be outlined in the email. If you don’t complete your DBS in the timeframe given, we may withdraw your offer even if term has already started. So it’s important that you get started as soon as you receive the email.

  • Government legislation requires all Higher Education Institutions who offer courses where students may come into unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults to have this check. These checks also help us to ensure duty of care to our students, and create a safer environment for patients seen by our students.

  • As part of the University’s admissions process, declarations of any offence may be referred to a virtual panel made up of senior managers from partner NHS Trusts and/or other sectors within Health and Social Care. Any DBS that is considered by the panel will be anonymised. The panel members then deliberate and make a recommendation whether the application be rejected, accepted or request further information or documents.

  • If you have declared an offence, we might ask for more information from you in writing which will help the panel make a decision. Once your declaration has been referred to the panel it can take up to 28 working days to be processed.

  • You need to put your current address on your DBS application because this is where your Statement will be mailed. If you’ve moved house between submitting and receiving your DBS, make sure you have mail forwarding set up so that you’ll receive your statement. If you’ve moved recently, make sure you have proof of your new address (such as a new bank statement) to bring for your document checks.

  • If you’ve lost your statement you will need to pay £46 to purchase a new one.

  • Yes. If your application has been rejected due to your DSB declaration/discloser, you will be sent a letter to confirm this. There will be instructions in the letter about how you can appeal and which supporting information you need to provide. Once a decision has been made you will receive a letter from the School Executive Team.

Document check

Once you have completed the online part of the DBS process, you'll need to bring your DSB Statement along with three accepted documents from this list to be verified at either our Southwark or Havering campus. Document checks can be completed for free at either campus, no appointment is necessary.

If you cannot get to either of our campuses, you can have your documents checked and certified at the Post Office for a small fee.

  • Southwark: Southwark Student Help Desk in the K2 building Monday – Friday between 9am-11am or 1pm-4pm

    Havering: come to reception at Havering Monday – Friday between 8:30-10:30am, 12-2pm, 4-5pm

  • If you’re not able to come to campus, you can get your documents checked and certified at the Post Office for a fee of £10.50. To do this, make photocopies of your three accepted ID documents and take your DBS form, copies and originals of your documents to the Post Office. The Post Office will stamp the form and photocopies and given them back to you. Email your post office receipt, stamped form and stamped documents to hscdbsoh@lsbu.ac.uk.

Enrolment and Welcome Week

Before you start your course we’ll send you information on what you’ll need to do before you arrive and during your first few days on campus. You can read about the process on our new students pages.

Holidays

Your holiday periods will not follow the normal University timetable because of placements. You’ll receive more details once you start your course.

Practice placements

Most health and social care courses’ practice placements will operate outside normal working hours e.g. evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays.

 
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Tel: 0800 923 8888

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