MA Social Work

Southwark Campus

Mode: Full-time


Please note that due to exceptionally high demand, this course is now full for September 2020 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 (Complete University Guide 2021).

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.

Employment based route

It is also possible to study the MA Social Work on an employment based route (EBR) over three years. Candidates need to be sponsored and supported by their employing agency to undertake this, including provision by employers of suitable practice placements. It is taught alongside the existing MA Social Work and the structure is the same, but students complete the dissertation in their third year.

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


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 £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.

Professional links

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 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 multiple mini interviews (MMI). MMI involved being asked brief questions at different stations.

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

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/EU applicants

Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
2 years
Start date
Application code
Application method
Full-time (EBR)
2/3 years
Start date
Application code
Application method
Part-time (EBR)
3 years
Start date
Application code
Application method

This course is not open to international students.

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, James Ganpatsingh: or +44 207 815 6731, 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.

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 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 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.


If you have your results and are ready to apply for a course this September, you can apply online now.

Get your results on the 15 August? You can either apply online or call 0800 923 8888 to speak to one of our dedicated Clearing advisors, who’ll take you through your application.

We're open from Thursday 15 August (7am until midnight).

Find out more about Clearing.

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 2020.

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.


Year 1 FT Southwark SEPT

The fee shown is for entry 2020/21
UK/EU fee: £8500.00International fee: £9800.00
AOS/LSBU code: 4357Session code: 1FS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £17000.00
International £23098.00

The international fee for this course shows as "£0" because this course is not open to international students.

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 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
  • 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