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Our MSc Social Work is a professionally accredited, two-year full time conversion master's degree allowing you to develop the practical skills and knowledge you need to play a crucial role in improving people’s lives.

The MSc offers a challenging and stimulating range of learning opportunities that will equip you with the key attributes necessary to work effectively in an increasingly globalised and pluralistic working environment.

The MSc in Social Work at UWS builds upon a long tradition of providing social work education dating back over 40 years. Social work education at UWS has a reputation second to none for promoting excellence in practice.

Professional recognition

This MSc is accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Upon successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) component of the degree, you are eligible to apply for registration with the SSSC or other social work regulators throughout the United Kingdom. Students will be encouraged to complete the full Master's when they successfully achieve the PgDip as this will optimise long-term employability and career flexibility.

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Practical Focus

Importantly, as part of this degree, you will undertake 85 days of practice placement in each of the two years of the programme, under the supervision of a qualified practice teacher. You will also complete modules in social work theory as well as applied law. Finally, to complete the MSc you will undertake a research/practice-based dissertation.


UWS graduates enjoy excellent reputations with employers, working in:

  • local authority social services
  • voluntary or independent sectors
  • health
  • education

Careers can involve working directly with children, families, individuals in community care or in the criminal justice system.


Entry Requirements

What qualifications do you need?

We welcome Scottish, UK and international students and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

If you are applying with an EU or non-EU qualification, please check our Postgraduate Entry Requirements page which gives more information about country-specific entry requirements.

Academic Requirements

Applicants will normally have an existing Honours degree at 2:1 or above in a relevant social science discipline.

In exceptional circumstances consideration will be given to applicants who do not meet this criteria based; but this will be based on experience and individual merit.

Our course is professionally recognised by the Scottish Social Service Council (SSSC) and core to this recognition is that all applicants can demonstrate that they have literacy and numeracy skills equivalent to the Scottish Standard Grade 2 in both English and Mathematics. The SSSC have recently indicated that they would regard achieving a good honours degree in a social science subject as meeting both the English and Mathematics requirement.

In addition, you are strongly advised to provide information about modules studied at Undergraduate level in your application.

You are particularly encouraged to apply if you have more than 6 months experience of working in the social care sector.

International qualifications will be accepted providing that they provide equivalent credits to that specified within the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework; a satisfactory academic reference will be required in all cases. International students must also meet UWS's English Language entry requirements (see below).

You must demonstrate that you have an understanding of the social work role and that you have the potential to become a social worker.

All applicants will be interviewed before being offered a place on this MSc.

offers of study

Offers are made after all elements of the application process have been considered and will be conditional on a further review of application to the register for social work students (SSSC).

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for most courses

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level. The qualifications below must have been gained within two years of the start of your course.

General English language requirements at UWS: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.0
  • no sub-test less than 5.5

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII with the minimum of a Pass in all sub-tests
  • PTE Pearson Academic English: An overall score of 54 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5). An overall score 61 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.5 with no element below 6.0)


IELTS Score Exceptions (Research degrees, Nursing & Midwifery degrees with NMC registration, Certificate of Higher Education, etc.)

For our research degrees (MRes, MPhil, PhD, DBA, DProf), applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0

For Health, Nursing & Midwifery courses that lead to professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, applicants are required to have an IELTS or Occupational English Test (OET)*.

For such courses, the IELTS score is as follows:

  • overall score of 7.0
  • score of at least 7.0 in reading, listening and speaking and no less than 6.5 in writing

* Note that the Occupational English Test (OET) will now be accepted in addition to IELTS as proof of a Nurse's English Language Competence (Nursing & Midwifery Council, 2019). 

For our Certificate of Higher Education courses, applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 5.0
  • no sub-test less than 4.5



TOEFL IBT*: 78; no sub-test less than:

  • Reading: 17;
  • Listening: 17;
  • Speaking: 17;
  • Writing: 17

* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.


West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE)

West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE) including acceptance of WAEC Scratchcard*

  • C6 or above in English

*UWS will accept a WAEC scratchcard confirming that an applicant has achieved C6 or above as evidence of meeting English language requirement from Nigeria if the student graduated within the last 5 years. After 5 years applicants would be required to provide the WAEC Certificate.


Pre-sessional courses

Applicants who do not meet the minimum English language requirements have the option to study one of our preparatory and pre-sessional English courses. The UWS courses available are:

    • 10 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.0 with no element below 4.5.
    • 5 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.5 with no element below 5.5.
    • English Language for University Study - entry criteria UKVI IELTS with score of 4.0 in all elements (10 month course), or 4.5 with no score below 4.0 (7 month course).

Find out more about our English lanaguage Courses.

Course details

Our MSc in Social Work builds upon a long tradition of providing social work education dating back over 40 years. Social work education at UWS has a reputation second to none for promoting excellence in practice.

Two years of taught study and practical placements culminates in a research/practice-based dissertation that will allow students to explore their chosen area of social work practice in considerable depth.

Note that this is a 200 credit Master's degree run over two academic years.

For the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) stage, you will study the following core modules:

  • Social Work Theory: Application in Practice (core, 40 credits)
  • Assessed Practice 1 (core, 40 credits)
  • Applied Law for Social Work Practice (core, 20 credits)
  • Assessed Practice 2 (core, 40 credits)

Successful completion of the PgDip allows you to proceed to the master's module:

  • MSc Social Work Dissertation (60 credits)

Teaching & Assessment

The modules selected for inclusion in our course have been carefully chosen to reflect the changing requirements of professional social work practice.


  • Scheduled learning: 10%
  • Independent study: 43%
  • Placement: 47%


  • Exam: 10%
  • Practical: 0%*
  • Coursework: 100%

* Note: both placement elements (modules) have a pass / fail mechanism for the assessment of practice plus an academic assessment at the end of the module. The academic assessment counts as 100% of the recorded academic mark for the module; however, the pass-fail of the practical placement must be taken into account. It is not shown here as the emphasis is on the academic assessment; but it is significant.

Course Structure

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What students say about this course

The thing I like most about UWS is how dynamic my course is, and how passionate the lecturers are. We constantly have outside speakers in from a huge range of agencies and professions to give us an insight into the job and this has been extremely beneficial to my learning. Each of my placements has been totally different and this has allowed me to observe and participate in different sides to social work and understand the role, task and purpose of social work more clearly. It’s so helpful to put our knowledge and theory into practice and actually use the skills we’ve been learning.

Kiara Mayne, Social Work student

Postgraduate Tuition Fees

Class-based (Scottish campuses) 2019/20

Scottish & EU

£5,500 per year of study

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£5,500 per year of study

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£5,500 per year of study

International (Non-EU)

£12,600 per year of study

More on current & future tuition fees

Postgraduate fees for this course 2020/21

Scottish & EU

£6,500 cost per year of study

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£6,500 cost per year of study

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£6,500 cost per year of study

International (Non-EU)

£13,000 cost per year of study

More on current & future tuition fees

For eligible students, the Scottish government (via the SSSC) make a small number of bursaries available for postgraduate social work students. See Tuition Fees & Living Cost Support section below for more details.

Additional Costs & Sources of Funding

The cost of attending university is an investment in your future career.

In addition to tuition fees and living expenses, some courses involve extra costs like study materials, field trips, equipment and uniforms.

Fortunately, there is a great deal of financial support available to help students meet the cost of their study. This ranges from:

  • statutory government loans to pay for tuition fees
  • scholarships for Scottish, EU and International (non-EU) students
  • bursaries to help towards living expenses

The sections below provide details of additional costs that your course may involve along with any financial support that may be available.

You can also find additional information in our Postgraduate Money, Fees & Funding section.

Additional Costs

Students on certain degrees will incur some additional costs not covered by their tuition fees. These could be for things like specialist equipment, study materials, work placements, graduation, membership of relevant organisations or costs related to carrying out fieldwork.

For students on course with an element of fieldwork, there may also be extra costs for travel and accommodation.

Please contact the course leader for details of the additional costs associated with this course.

Social Work - Additional Costs


International applicants should note that costs associated with placement - specifically travelling cannot usually be reclaimed due to Visa restrictions. The travelling costs associated with placement vary; but a figure of £1000 per placement would not be unusual.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme Registration

Successful applicants who gain a place on this course will need to register on the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme, managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland. You will need to maintain your membership throughout the duration of your studies.

The fee for joining the scheme is £59.

Visit the Disclosure Scotland website for more information on the PVG scheme.

Tuition Fees & Living Cost Support

Tuition Fees & Additional Costs

Tuition fees are calculated based on where you are from and what you are studying. Some courses also involve additional costs, such as mandatory field trips, equipment or studying abroad.

Find out how much it will cost you to study at UWS as a postgraduate student.

Funding for Scottish Students

Scottish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for English, Welsh & Norther Irish Students

English, Welsh and Northern Irish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for EU Students

EU students studying at postgraduate level of UWS may be eligible for SAAS funding, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find our more.

Funding for International Students

There are several scholarship and incentive schemes available to international students studying at postgraduate level at UWS, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find out more.

Social Work - Funded Bursaries

For eligible students, the Scottish government (via the SSSC) make a small number of bursaries available for postgraduate social work students. The number of bursaries and amount of funding bursary is subject to change and cannot be guaranteed. Following the selection process, UWS will nominate a number of successful applicants for bursaries; however, the final decision regarding the allocation of bursaries will be exclusively determined by the SSSC.

Please note that being offered a place on social work programme is no guarantee of receiving a bursary. The SSSC use the same criteria for awarding bursaries for all social work programmes in Scotland. Enquiries regarding matters related to bursary funding should be made directly to the SSSC via

Other Financial Support

Discretionary & Childcare Funds

UWS administer a range of discretionary and childcare funds. These are designed to support students who are experiencing financial difficulty or struggling to meet the costs of childcare.

Find out more.

Benefits & Tax Credits

Becoming a student can have an impact on your entitlement to certain benefits. It may mean you are no longer eligible to claim a benefit you have been receiving, or your new income from student funding may affect the amount you are able to receive.

Find out more.

Additional Financial Support

If there isn’t a statutory source of funding for you or your course, or you are in need of additional financial support, you may wish to consider more alternative sources of funding such as trust funds and scholarships.

Find out more.

Money & Debt Advice

Choosing to become a student can have a big impact on your budget and you may need to reassess your spending to account for a reduced income. We’ve put together some guidance to help you manage your money and make the right financial choices for you and your family.

Find out more.

How to apply

Postgraduate courses (MA, MSc, MEd, MBA, DBA, PG Cert, PG Dip, etc.) & some Post-experience courses (CertHE, BA, Grad Cert, Grad Dip, etc.)

All students should apply directly to the University through our online application system. Before you apply, you should check that you meet our entry requirements and you should have all your supporting documents ready.

The first stage of the process is to create a profile; you don't have to complete the application in one session - you can complete it in stages by saving each section and return to complete it at a later date.

You will need to upload documents with your applications, which may include transcripts and degree certificates.

Most courses don't have a formal closing date, but they will close when they are full; apply early to avoid disappointment. There may also be funding deadlines that apply to you.

Before you begin your application, it is important to read the Postgraduate & Post-Experience application step-by-step guide for a smooth process.

Please be aware that our application system will be unavailable from 25-29 Nov during the hours of 5am-9am GMT.


An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

Get in touch

Do you have a question about applying for this course? Get in touch. We are here to help!

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Research at UWS

With cutting edge facilities, specialist knowledge and world-leading and internationally excellent expertise, we aim to develop research outputs that have a tangible, early and positive impact on society across the globe.


We will always try to make sure that we publish accurate course information but we do not accept responsibility for any mistakes or omissions. We will also try to make sure that we deliver our courses in line with our published information. However, we may not always be able to do so and you can find further information about this in our enrolment terms and conditions.