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L5K380 Social Work MSW Postgraduate Taught  2017


UCAS code L508
Degree MSW
Professional accreditation Health and Care Professions Council
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 21 months
Start Date 02-10-2017
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1473

Course Content


The Durham MSW is a 21 month programme engaging students with the knowledge, skills and values that underpin social work practice with individuals, groups and communities. Academic study is complemented by two practice placements with different service user groups.  Practice experience of statutory interventions with children and families or ‘vulnerable adults’ is complemented by opportunities for innovative practice in the voluntary and independent sectors in areas such as family justice, homelessness, substance use, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, community interventions and self-advocacy. With strong involvement of service users, carers and practice partners throughout the programme, the MSW provides strong foundations for practice in any field of social work.

Local and global perspectives 

Our approach to social work education reflects the connections between individuals, their families and communities. We offer you a broad foundation for social work practice underpinned by the global definition of social work and emphasise the connections between local and global issues in social work. Shared learning alongside postgraduate students studying International Social Work and Community Development, and Community and Youth Work, provides valuable opportunities for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

Excellent employment prospects  

There is very strong demand for Durham MSW graduates by employers in local authorities and non-government organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. Durham MSW graduates have been able to transfer their registration to other countries including Australia, Canada, Scotland and the USA. 

Course Structure

The MSW is structured around seven modules designed to meet the academic and practice learning requirements for a degree in social work.

Year 1 

  • Social Work in Practice (40 credits): Understanding perspectives of service users and carers; social exclusion; social policy and law for social work 
  • Social Work in Context (40 credits): Human growth and development through the life course, disability and mental health; social work theories and methods; working in organisations
  • Professional and Personal Development (30 credits): Principles, values and ethics; critical thinking and evidence-based practice; skills development; Interprofessional working 
  • Social Work Practice 1 (50 credits): 70-day practice placement in a partner agency.

Year 2

  • Research in Professional Practice (45 credits): Research and evaluation design and methods; ethical issues in social welfare research; dissertation
  • Advanced Social Work (30 credits): Advanced application of theories and methods; critical analysis of social work policy; protection and empowerment of vulnerable children, young people and adults
  • Social Work Practice 2 (70 credits): 100-day practice placement. 

Course Learning and Teaching

The MSW is full-time, starting in early October and continuing over 21 months. The programme does NOT run to university terms. There are approximately 12 weeks of vacation, including public holidays, during the course of the whole programme. In Year 1 the first four months are spent developing the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare you for your first practice placement of 70 days. In Year 2 you undertake a 100 day placement with a different service user group and in a contrasting setting where you will gain experience of statutory interventions in social work. Practice placements provide the opportunity to develop a range of skills set out in the Professional Capabilities Framework. You also extend your skills in linking theory, policy and practice, and undertake a research dissertation.


A range of assessment methods is used including essays, observation studies, project reports, case studies, group and individual presentations. Knowledge and understanding of social work law and policy is assessed in a take away exercise. Before embarking on the first placement, you will undergo a practical assessment of your communication skills in readiness for direct practice. Practice placements are assessed by critically reflective accounts of work with individuals, groups or communities and by your practice educator who provides regular supervision and observes your practice. You are also expected to seek, and reflect on, feedback from service users and professional colleagues.  Research in Professional Practice is assessed through a 10,000 word dissertation.

Practice Placements

Placements normally take place in the north east region and students are required to travel independently to these.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

  • Normally a minimum Upper Second class Honours degree (2:1);
  • GCSE Mathematics and GCSE English grade C or above, or equivalent, at the time of application;
  • Applicants must have sufficient recent experience (in employment, as a volunteer, as a service user or carer) in a social care, health care or related voluntary setting to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the capabilities of a social worker as indicated at the entry level of the Professional Capabilities Framework. As a guideline, this period of experience is unlikely to be less than six months.
  • Applicants for whom English is not a first language will be required to demonstrate evidence of English Language Competence equivalent to IELTS 7 with no element less than 6.5.

You will also be required to:

  • attend an interview*;
  • demonstrate fitness to undergo social work training. 

a. At interview stage you are asked to declare any health conditions or disabilities that may affect your ability to undertake a practice placement safely and effectively.
b. Upon acceptance of a firm offer on the course, you are asked to complete an occupational health screening in line with national guidelines agreed with relevant professional bodies.
c.  Provide evidence that you do not have a criminal record that might restrict your opportunities to work with children or vulnerable adults. Candidates will be required as a condition of admission to undertake, or provide evidence of, a current DBS check.

*Candidates who are based overseas and cannot attend an interview in person may be interviewed remotely and should contact the admissions secretary if necessary to seek advice.

The Admissions Tutor gives equal consideration to all applications received before the UCAS January deadline, in accordance with UCAS regulations and University policy. However, we start assessing applications and interviewing from November onwards, in order to meet the required timescales. It is, therefore, advisable to make an early application.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

To apply for this programme, please follow the link to

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £6,900.00
Home Student £6,900.00
Island Student £6,900.00
International non-EU Student £16,500.00

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

School of Applied Social Sciences