MA Social Work

Southwark Campus

Mode: Full-time

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Contact information

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Please note that due to exceptionally high demand,  this course is no longer recruiting for September 2022 entry.

Social work is a challenging and rewarding career. You will work alongside some of the most vulnerable people in society, working towards positive change with individuals, families and groups. The work is incredibly varied with possibilities to specialise, for example in work with children or young people, adults with disabilities or mental health needs. Social workers often spend their time with people – be it in hospitals, people's homes, schools or in the community. A patient, non-judgemental approach is needed, with the ability to communicate effectively with a host of different people.
The Social Work MA at LSBU is a well-established course, running for over 30 years. Our graduates are eligible to apply to register as Social Workers with Social Work England, and have gone on to work in an exciting range of settings, from local authorities to setting up their own businesses.

We're ranked 1st amongst London competitors for Overall Score in Social Work (Guardian University Guide 2023).

This course blends an academic and professional focus with four strands underpinning our approach;

  1. We link practice-based learning and university learning
  2. We emphasise relationship based practices and co-production
  3. We offer research informed teaching
  4. We support you as autonomous and collaborative learners

On this course you will undertake two practice placements - 70 days in the first year and 100 days in the second year. Potential placements are varied, and are chosen from our diverse range of partner agencies in the voluntary and statutory sectors. Placements will be in different settings, service user groups, ages or methods. Placements may occasionally operate outside of normal working hours.

Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
2 years
Start Date
Southwark Campus


Additional skills days are woven into the programme to support preparation for practice. Students are required to travel to placement which will be no further than 1.5 hours from their home, but in many cases located much closer.

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. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Law for social work
    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.
  • Social PolicyThis module brings together selected key areas of social policy relevant to social work. There will be a strong emphasis on the use of social policy to illuminate the challenges facing 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 dimensions of decision making and practice delivery of policy.
  • Practice placement 1
    70 days practice learning in practice placement.

Year 2

  • Social work with adultsThis module is designed to complement the Social Work with Children, Young People and Families module. Both modules are aimed at helping you prepare for social work practice in the real world, as you decide which area you want to work in post-qualifying. The module aims to help you develop your understanding of and ability to work with the complex issues experienced by adults using social work services. It will include a focus on report writing as a core social work skill.
  • Social work with children, young people and familiesThis is the final module on the programme, and is designed to complement the Social Work with Adults module. Both modules are aimed at helping you prepare for social work practice in the real world, as you decide which area you want to work in post-qualifying. The module aims to help you develop your understanding of and ability to work with the complex issues experienced by children, young people and families using social work services. It will include a focus on report writing as a core social work skill.
  • 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. 

Current Research and Knowledge Generation

LSBU is a leading centre for research into street gangs, violence and criminal exploitation of young people. Our research has been discussed in parliamentary debates and featured in TV and radio interviews with BBC, ITN and Radio 4 and in press articles in every national newspaper. Staff members have recently completed an analysis of professional decision making in a high-profile child death inquiry in Queensland, Australia and acted as a Commissioner for the Poverty and Inequality Commission chaired by Baroness Tyler.


Social work as a career

There are a diverse range of employment opportunities for qualified social workers, including local authorities, NHS trusts, voluntary sector organisations and innovative social enterprises. Salaries vary according to region, and you are likely to earn more working in London. Many of our graduates successfully seek positions in ASYE schemes (Assessed and Supported Year in Practice).

Career progression

On graduation you will be eligible to register as a Social Worker, with starting salaries ranging from £29,000-£30,000, 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.

This course has been developed in partnership with local authority and voluntary sector partners, with input from a wide range of service users and carers. We work in partnership with a number of London local authorities, and other organisations on both the public and private sector, who contribute to planning the programme, to learning and teaching, and to the provision of practice learning opportunities.

The course is approved by Social Work England.

Teaching and learning


Entry requirements

  • A Bachelor degree equivalent normally to a UK Second Class Honours Upper Division (2:1) or above in a relevant subject
  • GCSE English and Maths at grade 4 or above (previously A*-C or above) or a recognised equivalent
  • You 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

Candidates will be asked several interview questions which are aimed to assess aptitude for the job of social work their answers will be timed, they will also complete a written test.

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

In line with Social Work England 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

Home applicants

Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
2 years
Start date
Application code
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.

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.

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.

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

Disclosure Barring Service and medical fitness

In line with Social Work England 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.

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. You will receive the email during Summer 2021.

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 bring in your original green DBS certificate 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

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

My Social Work friends said they need to pay. Do I need to pay?

What do I need to declare on my DBS?

I’ve applied for/had a DBS in past. Do I need to do it again?

Why do I need an enhanced DBS check?

Who reviews my DBS?

When will I hear back from the panel about my DBS?

Which address do I use?

I’ve lost my statement. What do I do?

I’ve had my application rejected due to my DBS declaration/disclosure. Can I appeal the decision?

Document check

Once you have completed the online part of the DBS process, you will need to produce three accepted documents from this list to be verified.

Providing documents whilst campus is closed due to COVID-19

Document check on campus

Document check at the Post Office

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.


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

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.


MA Social Work - Year 1 FT Southwark SEPT

The fee shown is for entry 2022/23
UK fee: £8500International fee: £17500
AOS/LSBU code: 4357Session code: 1FS00
Total course fee:
UK £17000
International £35000

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
  • You should note that fees for both years 1 and 2 of the course are significantly higher than the tuition fee element of the bursary
  • 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
  • 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

The individual fee for this course is shown above. For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for postgraduate students.

See our Tuition Fees Regulations (PDF File 391 KB) and Refund Policy (PDF File 775 KB).

We have a range of PhD Scholarships available in partnership with businesses and organisations; read notices of PhD studentships.