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Social Work (MA)

Course Description

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.

See the website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/courses/course-finder/social-work-ma


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

- 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.


- 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.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

- direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
- Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
- mentoring and work shadowing schemes. 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 MA Social Work is both an academic and professional qualification.

Visit the Social Work (MA) page on the London South Bank University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

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