What’s it like to study a Masters in Social Work?
A Masters in Social Work will give you an excellent grounding in the skills you’ll need as a qualified social worker. Combining academic modules with practical experience, these courses encourage you to apply your knowledge in a variety of social work-related situations.
Because social work is a regulated profession in most countries, Masters courses in this subject tend to follow a set structure. In the UK, this is set by the HCPC.
The first year of the programme introduces you to key concepts around policy, the law and human development, as well as preparing you for your first placement.
The second year builds on the skills you’ve already gained, tackling topics in greater depth and giving you the opportunity to complete another practice placement in a different area to your previous one. You’ll also write a dissertation on a subject of your choice during the second year.
The two work placements are perhaps the most important part of a Masters in Social Work, giving you the first-hand experience you need to become a qualified social worker. Most institutions cooperate with their local authorities to provide these placements, offering them in a range of different roles.
On your placement, you could work with:
- Older people
- People with mental health issues
- People with substance misuse problems
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Victims of domestic violence
- Young offenders
Each of your placements must be with a different group of people.
How is a Masters in Social Work assessed?
During your Masters in Social Work, you’ll be assessed via a number of methods:
- Group projects
A dissertation of around 16,000 words is a compulsory part of a Masters in Social Work. This is written on a topic of your choice and, depending on the university you’re studying at, can be literature- or research-based.
In some cases, you may be able to forego writing a dissertation and instead qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, with which you can still register with the HCPC.
Check out our page on writing a Masters dissertation for more information.
Who is a Masters in Social Work for?
A Masters in Social Work is primarily for people who hold an undergraduate degree in an unrelated discipline, and want to begin a career in social work. It’s not normally aimed at people who have an undergraduate degree in social work – these students are already eligible to register as a social worker with the HCPC.
Even if you don’t necessarily want to become a social worker, a Masters in Social Work can equip you with valuable transferrable skills to work in a related industry. For example, you could become a counsellor or a charity officer.