Postgraduate Course

MA Social Work

MA Social Work

Overview

The details
Social Work
October 2022
Full-time
1 years 9 months
Colchester Campus

Please note that for 2022 entry, the deadline to apply for this course is 13 June 2022.

Social work is a human rights profession; be part of it.

This course, unique to the UK, provides an opportunity for you to qualify as a social worker while at the same time engaging with debates around the importance of human rights and social justice in the context of social work practice.

Building on the success of our existing Social Work programmes and the global reputation of the University's outstanding human rights research, we’ve designed a new postgraduate approach to social work education. Our Social Work students will not only acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to practice as social workers, but they will also have the opportunity to learn about the importance of human rights in an inter-professional manner, alongside students and tutors from the University's Law Clinic. Moreover, through our work with the United Nations, governments, human rights organisations and corporations all over the world, we bring a global outlook to our teaching.

We’ve blended theory and practice throughout to nurture you from a trainee social worker to a confident professional practitioner. You will explore the fundamental principles of human rights and equality, and examine how these doctrines will underpin your practice. You will also cover topics including:

  • Service users autonomy
  • Social justice and values
  • Equality and diversity
  • Safeguarding and protection
  • Evidence-based relational practice

The School of Health and Social Care is proud to work closely with our Service User Reference Group (SURG). SURG is made up of service users, carers, and volunteers who generously share their first-hand experiences of health and social care. We work collaboratively with SURG to design our courses to ensure that we truly are putting the needs of patients and clients at the heart of what we do. SURG are involved as part of our course application processes and often form part of our interview panels. This helps us to be confident that we are selecting the right applicants for the course and their future careers. SURG members also support the delivery of our teaching sessions and research activity, which means you’ll benefit from an insight into their lived experiences of living with a diagnosis, health condition, or circumstance. You’ll find that not only does your clinical knowledge expand, but your empathy, compassion and ability to advocate develops also. You can find out more about SURG by reading their blog here.

Placement Opportunities

Within the School of Health and Social Care, we value the experience and opportunity that a placement can give you. It is an intrinsic part of many of our courses. You will do at least 170 days in practice placement during your time with us.

Whilst on placement, your week will be divided between four days on placement and one day dedicated to academic work with significant input relating to critical, reflective and human rights based practice. Our partnerships with placement providers ensure you gain effective, high-quality training, allowing you to gain experience working with children, adults, families and communities.

When you are on placement, the placement provider is expected to meet the travel costs incurred as a result of work carried as part of that placement (i.e. travel to meetings, etc). However, you will be expected to meet the costs of travel to and from placement.

Social Work students may be eligible to apply for the NHS Social Work bursary, which can be put towards paying for tuition fees, maintenance costs, or travel to placement. More information is available on our funding pages.

DBS and Occupational Health Checks

This course requires a satisfactory Occupational Health Check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - both of these are organised by the University. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to getting your DBS check.

You will also be required to register for the DBS Update Service (information relating to this service can be found here). You will need to register for this within 30 days of your DBS certificate being issues. The Update Service costs £13 per year, which the University will reimburse. You will need to keep the subscription to this Service active for the duration of your course. If you do not register for the Update Service within 30 days, or your registration lapses, and you later attend placement where this is a requirement, you will have to pay for a new DBS check, which will enable you to sign up to the Update Service. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to this.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more. Further information about how to obtain an Overseas Criminal Record check can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Mandatory Vaccinations

As you may be aware, the UK government has now revoked legislation that requires all health and social care staff working in sites regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Whilst vaccination is not essential, we encourage our applicants and students to be fully vaccinated. Find out more about what this means for applicants to this course.

Professional accreditation

Approved by Social Work England for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker in England.

Why we're great.
  • Successful completion of this course will lead to eligibility for registration with Social Work England as a Social Worker.
  • Our determination to make a difference in society means we’re in the global top 100 of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings which ranked more than 1,400 universities around the world.
  • 98% of our postgraduate taught students from the School of Health and Social Care students are in highly skilled occupations (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2021).

Our expert staff

You’ll join our Centre for Social Work and Social Justice, which is a vibrant learning community that strives to address issues of national and international concern. We pride ourselves on our commitment to social justice, and on giving our students opportunities to participate in activities promoting social justice.

Our staff continue to work within social care, and other local agencies which enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, and the issues of current social work practice. We also work closely with experts by experience at all levels of teaching and research to ensure our teaching is innovative and well-informed.

The Centre for Social Work and Social Justice is host to the International Social Work Journal, which is one of the oldest and most widely read academic journals in the field of Social Work.

Specialist facilities

The School of Health and Social Care is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building at our Colchester Campus and in the Gateway Building at our Southend Campus. This course will be delivered at our Colchester campus.

We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials. Take advantage of our links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), which conducts large-scale survey projects, many for government, EU and other public agencies, and has its own library.

The UK Data Archive is also based at our Colchester Campus and stores national research data.

Your future

We are first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This creates internship and research opportunities for our postgraduate students and is based on our long-established expertise in international humanitarian law.

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

With 100% of our School of Health and Social Care students in highly skilled employment or graduate-level further study (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021), we're confident that this course will be just the start of great things for you. As a qualified Social Worker, you'll be able to work with a variety of client groups in various settings, and it's likely that no two days will be the same.

Successful completion of this course leads to eligibility to register with Social Work England as a Social Worker, but please note that other criteria also apply. See their website for further information.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Complete applications for this course must be received by 13 June 2022 . If your application is incomplete or is submitted after this date it will not be considered. You should have:
  • A 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in any discipline. Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will also be considered where applicants also have significant vocationally relevant experience.
  • Hold GCSE Maths and English grade C/4 or above, or equivalent at the time of application.
  • Have some paid or voluntary work experience in health or social care in a relevant social care or child care/education setting.
  • Successful performance at interview and sucessfully pass a English language assessment.

You must also have:

  • One satisfactory reference (either academic or professional).
Don't worry if you cannot provide your reference when you make your application, as if we make you an offer you will be able to provide this at a later stage. References should be recent and verifiable, on official institution paper, signed and dated by the referee.If a referee wishes to provide an email reference, it must be sent from the referee’s email account.

You must also have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) this is organised by the University.

For this course, you will be required to register for the DBS Update Service (information relating to this service can be found here). You will need to register for this within 30 days of your DBS certificate being issued. The Update Service costs £13 per year, which the University will reimburse. You will need to keep the subscription to this Service active for the duration of your course.

If you do not register for the Update Service within 30 days, or your registration lapses, and you later attend a placement where this is a requirement, you will have to pay for a new DBS check, which will enable you to sign up to the Update Service. Please contact dbs@essex.ac.uk if you have any questions relating to this.”

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more. Where it is not possible to obtain an Overseas Check a relevant professional reference may be accepted

The following documents should be submitted with your online application:

  • A personal statement
  • A current CV detailing your work/voluntary work experience
  • Academic transcripts

Interviews

Interviews will take place from November 2021 for the October 2022 intake.

Interviews will be via Zoom, details of which will be provided in advance.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall, or equivalent, with a minimum of 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in all other components.

Structure

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Social Work Theory and Methods
(15 CREDITS)

An introductory module exploring the knowledge and understanding that underpins the effective practice of social work. The module examines a variety of social science theories, models, and perspectives used by social workers to understand the lives of the individuals, groups, and communities whose interests they serve. These are organised around the practice themes of strengths-based approaches, relational and solution-focused social work, leadership, and human rights. There is a specific focus on the development of the profession in response to the evolution of human rights thinking and the complex relationships the vocation entails between social control, advocacy and the promotion of wellbeing. This module considers social work's rich and contested history and the evolution of its core values. It does this by examining a range of sociological and psychological theories, models, and perspectives of human behaviour and some aspects of human growth and development that are dealt with in more detail in the subsequent module, Life Span and Development. This is intended to furnish students with some of the underpinning knowledge they will need to engage in effective practice. As with other modules in the social work programme there will be specific consideration given to the role of human rights, collective responsibilities, and respect for diversity that have informed the development of social work as a field of enquiry and vocational practice.

View Social Work Theory and Methods on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Law, Policy and Ethics
(15 CREDITS)

The central purpose of this module is to provide an environment where students can explore issues and concerns of legislation, policy-making, and ethics in practice. The module will also focus on building the foundations of legislation relating to children and young people, adult social care, mental health, and mental capacity. Through this module, social work students will have the opportunity to explore the process of ethical decision-making alongside students and tutors from the Law Clinic. Law and social work staff will be making use of the giving voice to values approach which focuses on empowering decision making for transformational leadership. The module will include an exploration of the notions of social justice, moral judgment, equality, and the impact of legislation and guidance on people and people's rights- in short, social work what one writer has termed social works "rights and wrongs" (Doel, 2016).

View Law, Policy and Ethics on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: CORE

Life Span Development
(15 CREDITS)

This module explores social, cognitive, and behavioural development across the lifespan through a social work lens. Students will be introduced to established and emerging theories of human development and supported to critically assess their validity and alignment with social work practice, values and ethics. Adopting a human rights framework, students will also be encouraged to critically deconstruct the constructs of 'pathology' and 'normality' within the context of human development. Social workers engage with individuals and groups at all stages of the life-course. An understanding of key theories and perspectives for understanding the life-course, including structural, psychological and biological factors, and the interplay between these, is essential to effective social work practice. A consideration of the social, historical and economic contexts which shape individual development is also critical for understanding uneven patterns of development through the life-course. The goal of this module is to provide students with the skills needed to understand life course development and its importance to social work practice.

View Life Span Development on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: CORE

Practice Placement 1
(30 CREDITS)

The module will support students throughout the duration of the first placement including: preparation for placement, development of knowledge and skills relevant to practice, support for reflection, professional and personal challenge, and evaluation of own practice.

View Practice Placement 1 on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Critical Issues in Contemporary Social Work
(15 CREDITS)

The module focuses on the centrality of critical analysis that informs effective leadership within social work practice and reflects the increasing awareness of the role of professional challenge in interdisciplinary and partnership working. At the core of this module will be opportunities for the student to bring together some of their learning over the course of the degree and to think about their future development and the future of social work.

View Critical Issues in Contemporary Social Work on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Practice Skills and Placement 2
(30 CREDITS)

The module will support students throughout the duration of the second placement including: preparation for placement, development of knowledge and skills relevant to practice, support for reflection, professional and personal challenge and for evaluation of own practice.

View Practice Skills and Placement 2 on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: CORE WITH OPTIONS

HS656-7-FY or HS658-7-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: CORE WITH OPTIONS

HS657-7-PS or HS659-7-FY
(45 CREDITS)

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,200

International fee

£19,740

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Applying

Applications for 2022 entry will close on 13 June 2022.

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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