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.

Fact sheets 2019 Course fact sheet 1 MSc Social Work
Programme specifications 2019 Programme specification 1 MSc Social Work

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.

Professional Accreditations

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

Course details


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. 

Teaching methods

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.

Work Placement

Placements are a key part of your preparation to become a social worker.  Our placements team will work with you to identify your learning and development needs as well as your existing experience and career aspirations to find the right placements for you.

The skills days you undertake before starting placement (20 in year 1 and 10 in year 2) ensure that you have the skills you need to begin your practice journey and the support you receive from your supervisor in practice and from your placement tutor will mean that you can make the most of every learning opportunity.  Academic modules, assignments and your portfolio of practice evidence compiled on placement enable you to develop competence in applying theory, methods and values to your practice.

You will undertake two placements in complementary settings.  In the first year you will undertake 70 days of practice placement and the second year of the programme requires you to spend 100 days in practice.  Because our focus is on your learning and on your future career these placements may be at a distance from your home and you may need to travel to take up the opportunities available to you.


  • Level 6
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Values and Diversity 15 Credits Compulsory
    Human Growth and Development 15 Credits Compulsory
    Preparation for Practice Learning 15 Credits Compulsory
  • Level 7
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Readiness for Practice 1 15 Credits Compulsory
    Dissertation 30 Credits Compulsory
    Readiness for Practice 2 15 Credits Compulsory
    Evidence and Research Skills 15 Credits Compulsory
    Ethical and Legal Context for Social Work 30 Credits Compulsory
    Social Work Practice and Theory 1 30 Credits Compulsory
    Sociological and policy Context for Social Work 15 Credits Compulsory
    Collaborative, interprofessional/interagency and inclusionary practice 15 Credits Compulsory
    Social Work Practice and Theory 2 30 Credits Compulsory
  • Fees & funding

    Fees 2019

    UK/EU Students

    Full time
    • £8400 for the 2019/2020 academic year
    Part time
    • £700 per 15 credits for the 2019/2020 academic year

    International Students

    Full time
    • £12650 for the 2019/2020 academic year
    Part time
    • £1050 per 15 credits for the 2019/2020 academic year

    Fees 2020

    UK/EU Students

    Full time
    • £8925 for the 2020/2021 academic year
    Part time
    • £745 per 15 credits for the 2020/2021 academic year

    International Students

    Full time
    • £13500 for the 2020/2021 academic year
    Part time
    • £1125 per 15 credits for the 2020/2021 academic year

    Since May 2013 the funding of students on Social Work courses has changed. A national cap on the number of social work bursaries available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level was introduced.  Each University is allocated a number of bursaries. Each cohort contains more students than the number of bursaries that have been allocated to each University. Consequently, each Higher Education Institution (HEI) is asked to provide a list of names of those students it is nominating for consideration for a bursary.  It is the Department of Health, through its NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), that decides a student's eligibility for a bursary, not the HEI. Find out more information about bursaries.

    How does the HEI decide which students should be nominated? HEIs will be provided with a deadline by which time they will have had to present the ranked list of nominations to the Department of Health. It is important that individuals both apply and accept early to be considered for a place on the MSc Social Work programme. It will not be possible to nominate any applicant who comes through Clearing (August).

    Discounts are available for International students if payment is made in full at registration

    *Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

    View detailed information about tuition fees

    Read more about additional fees in the course fact sheet


    Find out more about scholarships for UK/EU and international students

    Other financial support

    Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

    Living costs / accommodation

    The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

    View detailed information about our accommodation

    Entry requirements

    The normal entry requirements for the programme are:

    • A good relevant first degree normally at 2:1 or above
    • Relevant paid, voluntary or life experience
    • Occupational Health and DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance
    • International students are required to demonstrate an English Language capability with an overall average of IELTS 7, with no less than 7 in any band

    If you do not have the required level of English for entry, our academic English courses can help you to achieve this level.

    How to apply

    Course length
    • Full Time, 2 Years
    • Part Time, 4 Years
    • University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield


    Start DateEnd DateLink
    01/09/202030/09/2021Apply online (Full Time)
    23/09/202030/09/2021Apply online (Part Time)


    Start DateEnd DateLink
    01/09/202130/09/2022Apply online (Full Time)
    23/09/202130/09/2022Apply online (Part Time)
    We welcome applications from international and EU students