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Social Work MA

Course Description

The MA Social Work enables those with a BA degree to obtain the new professional qualification in Social Work, as well as a Masters degree. The University of Birmingham is the oldest running social work education programme in the country and we are proud of our history. Over 4,500 students from 150 countries worldwide choose to study here at Birmingham, and we now boast one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK. The MA Social Work welcomes applications from international students.

This programme enables those with a BA degree to obtain the new professional qualification in Social Work, as well as a Masters degree. You join students on the new undergraduate route for Social Work for Year 3; your academic work is assessed at the higher M level, which includes a dissertation. You undertake two assessed social work placements in line with government requirements of 200 days of practice over the two years of the programme (changing to 170 days for entrants in 2013). International students undertake the same placements as UK students and obtain a detailed understanding of the operation of the English social work system.

The MA follows an exciting programme. Committed to social justice, anti-oppressive practice and relationship based social work and drawing upon a number of disciplines informing social work practice, it includes the study of social work values, knowledge, law, theories, methods and skills. Additional teaching offers students the opportunity to focus on particular areas of interest and exciting new projects, such as the International Exchange Project, and the award-winning Survivor Arts Project, allow students to move beyond the core curriculum and explore different ways of seeing the world and more creative ways of working. Watch the following video diary of our first exchange visit to Rotterdam, and a film of our award-winning Survivor Arts Project.

Year 1

In the first year of the degree you will have the opportunity to develop core academic knowledge and skills. Learning will focus on Social Work Law, Theory and Methods, Anti Discriminatory and Anti Oppressive practice and skills development in relation to research-mindedness, evidence-based learning and practice and critical reflection. You will also be introduced to the social and organisational context of social work and will be given the chance to develop practice skills in readiness for your first 70 day placement for professional practice learning.

The social work regulatory body, the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the College of Social Work requires that before our students go out onto placement that they have the basic skills needed to work with a wide variety of people and talk to service users with understanding and respect. As part of this skills development you will be required to undertake a Practice Orientation period with a local organisation. During this period you will be oriented to core processes of referral, assessment, multi disciplinary working - including engagement with service users. During this period you will be assessed on your professional behaviour. You will also undertake Readiness for Practice Learning Interviews, role plays carried out with service users and carers. This way we ensure that students meet the basic standard before they go out into the 'real world'.

We work in partnership with Birmingham City Council, who provide the majority of the placements, and a range of voluntary and private sector organisations. We also have a few placements with some neighbouring local authorities. However, we cannot guarantee any placements outside Birmingham itself and so students who live outside Birmingham will be required to travel. The placements on offer are challenging and also very rewarding. Some of the areas of social work covered on placement are:

Family support and prevention
Domestic violence
Refugee and asylum
Special educational needs
Child Protection
Substance misuse
Students should be aware that placements in particular areas of interest are not guaranteed. However, all placements are quality assured, meet required HCPC and College of Social Work standards and provide a wide range of learning opportunities which are transferable to any setting, and have international relevance.

Year 2

In Year 2 you will undertake a further 100 days of professional practice learning which, in line with HCPC requirements, will be with a different service user group in a different agency setting. All students will have the opportunity during at least one of their practice placements to undertake some statutory duties.

In conjunction with this you will again have the opportunity to reflect upon your learning in preparation for and within practice. Students will undertake learning in relation to work with both children and families and adults and communities and this will be incorporated within a framework which encourages students to adopt a ‘think family’ approach to social work. Teaching and learning will concentrate on cross-cutting issues for practice around risk and protection, whole-family approaches, collaborative working, and strengths based approaches.

Also in this final year you will develop, conduct and write-up in the form of a dissertation, an individual piece of literature and/or empirical based research in an area of social work you are particularly interested in.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days (Friday 13 November 2015 and Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgopendays

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit: http://www.pg.bham.ac.uk

Visit the Social Work MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

Student Profiles

ESRC scholarships for PG Study and Doctoral Research - 14 Awards

The University of Birmingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre is one of 21 across the UK that has been accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It has been awarded 14 ESRC scholarships to fund postgraduate training and doctoral research starting in October 2012.Outstanding applicants will be considered for ESRC scholarships in the following pathways:Applied Linguistics
Russian and East European Studies
International Development (IDD)
West African Studies
German Studies
Business and Management
Economic and Social History
Economics and Econometrics
Urban and Regional Studies
Human Geography
Political Science and International Studies
European Studies
Local Government Studies and Public Policy
Sport and Exercise Science (Psy)
Social Policy
Social Work
Socio-Legal Studies

Value of Scholarship(s)



Please note that to be eligible for an ESRC award at the University of Birmingham you must have also submitted an application to study at the University.

Application Procedure

For further information, please visit http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/esrc

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The entry requirement is an upper second-class (2.1) degree classification or higher (an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline is preferred) and a minimum of 3 months or 60 days related social care experience (related personal experience will be considered but only alongside practice-based experience). Equivalence is reviewed for international students. Applicants with a 2:2 degree classification may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, if they have further related postgraduate study. We also require GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or an equivalent level two numeracy and literacy qualification.

Course Fees

Home and EU Students £5040; International £14,850

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