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L5KD07 International Social Work and Community Development MA Postgraduate Taught  2017


UCAS code L5KD07
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time)
Start Date 02/10/2017
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1505

Course Summary


This unique programme is aimed particularly at international or UK students, with an interest in international social work, community development and comparative social policy. The programme will give you advanced knowledge about the theory and practice of social work and community development in an international context. You will be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of global social issues (such as social exclusion, poverty and environmental degradation) and relate this knowledge to developments in their own country. You will be equipped with the skills to engage in research and to apply research findings effectively in practice. The programme includes a two-week placement in a social work agency and the opportunity to carry out research on an aspect of social or community work in the UK.

Durham University is a world leader in International Social Work and Community Development. Our social work team edit the prestigious International Social Work journal and work closely with the International Federation of Social Workers and the International Association of Schools of Social Work.

Course structure 

You will study in a small group of international students and alongside UK students on postgraduate social work and research degree programmes. This will give you plenty of opportunities to share knowledge and experience in addition to your learning through lectures, presentations and seminars.

The MA consists of five core modules, designed to give you an understanding of social work as it is practiced in the UK, and a thorough grounding in research methods and their application. You will also choose two specialist modules according to your particular professional interests. Finally, you will undertake a research project and write a dissertation. To achieve the Master's degree, you must accumulate a total of 180 credits, as listed below.

Core Modules

International Social Work (30 credits)

  • International social work: Debates and controversies.
  • The history of international social work.
  • International institutions and social work theories and practices.
  • Legislative underpinnings to international social work.

Social Work: Context and Practice (30 credits)

  • Contemporary social work and social welfare in a diverse society
  • Construction of social problems
  • Ethical frameworks for social practice
  • Contemporary social work theories and practice.

Field Based Learning (15 credits)

  • Social work practice
  • Comparative theory/practice approaches
  • Social and community work organisations
  • Practice based pedagogies. 

Students are required to pay for travel costs to and from their fieldwork practice placement.

Community Policy and Practice (15 credits)

  • Critical analysis of communities
  • Origins, history, and theoretical approaches to community development
  • Contemporary forms of community development practice
  • Community and public policy.

Practitioner Research and Dissertation (60 credits)

  • Uses of research in social welfare policy and practice
  • Approaches to social research
  • Ethical issues in research
  • Literature reviewing, sampling, data collection and analysis methods.

Optional Modules

In previous years, typical modules offered were:

Youth Policy and Practice (15 credits)

  • Youth policy in the UK
  • Origins, development, and theoretical underpinnings of youth work
  • Critical overview of contemporary youth work practice Key forms of intervention.

Management in Community Settings (30 credits)

  • Critical analysis of a range of perspectives which have informed the management of organisations in community settings, including those relating to:
    • Development of understanding in effectively managing and developing these organisations in the current context to increase their effectiveness in achieving their aims in ways that are consistent with professional values
    • Personnel management
    • Physical resource management
    • Financial management
    • Strategic management
    • Change management.

Policy Related and Evaluation Research (15 credits)

  • Relationship between theory and empirical research in evaluation
  • Defining and measuring outcomes
  • Case study analysis
  • Poster presentation and participatory evaluation.

Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits)

  • Spreadsheets and data analysis
  • Populations, sample data and sampling distributions
  • Point estimates and confidence intervals
  • Significance tests, cress-tabulations, and Chi-Square tests
  • Correlation and linear regression.

Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)

  • Sampling and sample design, questionnaire design
  • Numerical taxonomy and cluster analysis in practice
  • Methods for representing complex systems.

Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits)

  • Introduction to theory and research practice in qualitative methods
  • Ethnography and grounded theory
  • Group discussions
  • Data analysis and management processes.

Theorising Crime and Criminal Justice (30 credits)

  • Apply theories of crime and justice to topical issues
  • Theory and practice of criminal justice
  • Analysis of contemporary politics
  • Governance of criminal justice.

Crime, Violence and Abuse (30 credits)

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University in 2016 please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Course Learning and Teaching

The MA International Social Work and Community Development provides students with advanced knowledge about the theory and practice of social work and community development in an international context. The programme is offered full-time, starting in early October and continuing over 12 months following university terms, or part-time over 24 months.

Core teaching on the programme falls primarily within the two 10 week terms. The programme is taught according to a variety of approaches, including lectures, seminars, Field-Based Learning, independent learning and empirical research/ dissertation.

Lectures enable staff to present scholarly material, both generic and subject-specific, to introduce the main debates within each topic and to situate arguments within broader debates. They introduce the subject at both a conceptual and a practical level. Seminars furnish opportunities for both staff and students to explore issues arising from lectures and from independent learning and to pursue them in more depth and in greater detail. Independent learning allows students to acquire subject-specific and generic knowledge by reading contemporary and historical debates in the topic; and by developing a critical awareness appropriate to advanced study. The Dissertation provides students with the opportunity to plan, design, carry out and present a piece of research. Dissertation work is supported by a dedicated module and by the student’s supervisor who will advise students at each stage of the project. Students have a ten-day field-based learning (FBL) opportunity in a local social welfare agency. FBL normally takes place in the north east region and students are required to travel independently to these.

Modules are assessed through essays, observation studies, project reports, case studies, group and individual presentations. Practitioner Research is assessed through a 12,500 word dissertation.

Further academic support is available as both the University and the School organize seminars by external speakers that are open to all students. Students will have access to a variety of learning resources, including learning spaces in libraries and teaching rooms, readings and textbooks, computers, databases, etc. 

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

Normally an upper second class (2:1) honours degree or equivalent.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

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

Part Time Fees

EU Student £3,800.00 per year
Home Student £3,800.00 per year
Island Student £3,800.00 per year
International non-EU Student £9,100.00 per year

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