Subject

Social work

Are you a catalyst for social change?  Become a Social Worker and empower people to live their best lives.  We’ll equip you to support vulnerable people and communities to find positive ways forward in the social justice and human rights challenges they face in everyday life.

Social work

Your Undergraduate study

In the School of Health and Social Care, our social work course does much more than ‘what it says on the tin’. It's about driving positive change for children, adults and families, and making a difference in their lives. You’ll be an integral part of our Social Work and Social Justice division which is underpinned by activism, internationalism and research. We’re proud to be champions of social justice and progression. If you’re hard working, adaptable, honest and, above all, passionate about finding long-term solutions and supporting positive changes for children, adults and families, then welcome home.

When you choose to study with us, you'll gain more than just a qualification. You'll be part of our learning community, where our students learn not only from our academics, but from each other, from practice placements and from our Service User Reference Group (SURG). SURG is made up of service users, carers, and volunteers who kindly share their lived experience of health and social care. Their input into the design of our curriculum as well as into our lectures and seminar sessions means you’ll benefit from a compassionate perspective as well as an enhanced ability to advocate.

Why study here?
  • 17th for Social Work for overall positivity score (National Student Survey 2023, English Broad Discipline Institutions)
  • 23rd for Social Work in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • We take a global view of Social Work with specific focus on Human Rights, Social Justice, and Community Activism.

Career Prospects

Our BA and MA Social Work courses are accredited by Social Work England. This means that successful completion of these courses leads to eligibility to register as a qualified Social Worker. We have an excellent track record for employability: 98% of UK undergraduate full-time from the School of Health and Social Care are in highly skilled employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2023). We’re confident you’ll have a choice of jobs at your fingertips on graduation.

Find out more about careers, employability and how our School will support you with your future career path.

Masters degrees

Studying MA Social Work with us at Essex means you'll gain far more than just eligibility to register as a qualified Social Worker - you'll develop your knowledge and skillset to analyse intersecting injustices, and crucially, you'll have the toolkit to collaboratively build better futures for those you will work with.

Here at Essex, we pride ourselves on offering a postgraduate route into social work which is underpinned by interprofessional study, including with health and social care professionals such as hospital and forensic social workers, as well as human rights experts from Essex Law School. We firmly believe that social work is a human rights profession, and it's important to take a global outlook when looking for examples of best practice. This includes bringing practice experience into the classroom and to examine practice critically. If you're looking for a rewarding, flexible career that is a practical application of human rights and social justice, this is the course for you.

Why study here?
  • Our partnerships with placement providers (internationally and locally) ensure you gain effective high-quality training.
  • Our MA Social Work is approved by Social Work England for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker in England.
  • Our approach to education values lived experience with teaching co-created with students, practitioners and Service Users.

Research degrees

The Social Work and Social Justice team is research active working both internationally and locally with charities, local authorities and on national funded grant projects. You would be joining a lively interdisciplinary research community with social justice at its heart. You would be a member of at least one of our four cross-school research groups. We would encourage applications from practitioners and people with lived experience, welcoming the opportunity to discuss your ideas to support you to form your application form. The wider university research community benefits from a range of interdisciplinary events where you can regularly meet other research students, learning and supporting each other. These include films at our on-campus theatre, writing retreats and summer schools. As a social work research student, you will have access to quality supervision and support

Start your application with us

Explore our Social Work and Social Justice research by theme or your area of interest and find a supervisor that can support your through your studies. More information can be found about research degrees on our school pages. Our courses below will help guide you through the various research degree programmes we offer.


Explore funding opportunities Ready to apply? Start your application today
Why study here?
  • Professional Doctorate qualification assesses your ability to perform at the level of 'expert' within your chosen field.
  • Study our Professional Doctorates over 5 years (with an additional period of completion of up to one year, if required).
  • Study through a combination of taught modules, work-based learning and original research through doctoral level dissertation.
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We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.