MSc Social Work

About the course

Social workers help people to live more successfully within their local communities by helping them find solutions to their problems. To succeed, social workers must work not only with clients but their families and friends as well as working closely with other organisations including the police, National Health Service, and schools.

During our two-year MSc programme you will learn the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the social worker role.  In your first year of study you will undertake modules which provide core knowledge about social work purpose, practice, and impact, human growth and development, and the policy and legislation which underpins practice. Additionally, you will learn the key methods, interventions, and skills for working with diverse communities and service users. 

The second year of teaching builds on this to explore the research evidence and practice relating to a range of social work settings and collaborative and interprofessional working to assess and manage risks and vulnerability. The programme culminates in the writing of a dissertation on a topic area in which you are especially interested.

This academic learning is complemented by two placement blocks totalling 170 days in contrasting settings and 30 days of classroom-based skill development.

Why choose this course?

  • Social work is a regulated profession. The MSc Social Work degree leads to eligibility to apply to the HCPC Register and practice as a social worker;
  • An emphasis on small group practice prepares you for practice in a modern multi-professional workforce;
  • Interactive learning in and out of the classroom will help you to understand concepts fully;
  • Academic teaching is supported by social work practitioners from the newly constituted Teaching Partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust, service users, and carers enabling you to link theory to practice throughout the programme;
  • A distinct feature of the programme is an emphasis on the development of knowledge and skills through reflective practice.

What will I study?

Our teaching recognises the knowledge, competence and life experience that you bring to the programme and we will build on this during the course of the programme. Module leaders on the MSc use a combination of direct teaching, guided study and independent learning. You will be encouraged to develop skills for independent learning and research that are expected and required at level 7 and in your future practice.

Teaching methods include seminars, small group discussions, case study analysis and student presentations, role play and interpersonal skills development. You will be encouraged to develop an understanding of and demonstrate your ability to practice in an anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive manner, including being able to challenge appropriately and counter discrimination.

From induction onwards, we work together to build a community of learners. During the programme you will be part of an Action Learning Set and will study and undertake assessments as part of this group. These close collaborations will help you to maximise your learning during the two years and help you prepare for your first role as a qualified social worker.

Professional Accreditations

You are eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council as a professional social worker.


Social workers practice in a wide variety of settings with a range of service user groups and settings from adoption to end of life care and from hospitals to prisons. A former a British Prime Minister was even a social worker and social work lecturer. Depending on your interest your future career could involve work with:

  • Children and their families, either to avoid family breakdown or where there is a risk of abuse of neglect;
  • Children with disabilities;
  • Young offenders
  • Foster carers;
  • Adults with physical or mental health problems;
  • Refugees;
  • Older people;
  • Carers;

Our programme will equip you with skills to practice with children and adults throughout their lives and in the full range of statutory and voluntary agencies which employ social workers.