MSc Social Work - University of Portsmouth

Social Work

Full Time 2yr

Innovative and cutting-edge teaching and learning in social work practice

Course Overview

Why take this course?

The aim of this course is to enable you to become confident practitioners in the fast-changing world of social work. With an emphasis on professionalism, professional judgement, relationship focussed work and protection, you will develop the capability to work across all areas of the social work profession.

Values and the NHS Constitution

We endeavour to recruit students to our health and social care courses who have the right values base and demonstrate appropriate behaviours. We embed the values of the NHS Constitution throughout our admissions processes and they are an essential part of the curricula. Find out more about the values we look for.

For further health information, please see our additional health information page.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Be taught by experts at the forefront of research and who are fully informed on developments within the social work field
  • Experience broad ranging teaching methods including simulation and workshops in preparation for, and during, two respective work placements
  • Work alongside service users and carers using creative and contemporary techniques in social work practice
  • Put your learning into action during your practice placements

What opportunities might it lead to?

This Master's course is a professional qualification for social work approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). It will provide you with the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge, theory, values and skills to work with vulnerable individuals and groups in society.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • social work practice
  • community healthcare practice
  • practice teaching
  • voluntary organisations


Jo Lyle, MSc Social Work student

I stayed in Portsmouth after I graduated from my first degree – I had such a good experience the first time round that I could not imagine doing my Master’s anywhere else.

Jo Lyle, MSc Social Work student

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Structure & Teaching

This Master's degree is a professional qualification for social work approved by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). It will give you the chance to acquire the knowledge, theory, values and skills to work with vulnerable individuals and groups in society. It will also enable you to develop the flexibility to work in any sector of social work – children and families, mental health, disabilities, vulnerable adults, or within a wide range of voluntary and independent organisations providing services to people who are homeless, who misuse substances, who are in the criminal justice system or who have experience of the care system. You will study the following units:

Year One

  • Social Work Theory and Context
  • Evidence-based Practice and other approaches to research
  • Empowering service users and promoting inclusion
  • Practice Placement 1
  • Legal and Policy Frameworks for Social Work (1)

Year Two

  • Legal and Policy Frameworks for Social Work (2)
  • Project - Writing for a publication
  • Practice Placement 2
  • Critical Practice across Service User Groups

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

You will be allocated a personal tutor, who will support, advise and assist you throughout the course. We use a variety of teaching methods including lectures, group work and other classroom strategies, group and creative work with service users and carers, and simulation work and skills workshops. To see examples of how we work closely with service users, visit

How are you assessed?

Assessment is primarily based on written, oral or portfolio evidence and is measured against HCPC Standards of Proficiency and the Professional Capability Framework developed by the College of Social Work. There are no formal written examinations.

Tutor's view


Teri Rogers
Social Work

Students undertaking the MSc Social Work are educated to the highest professional standards, reflecting core social work values. These include the empowerment of service users, a commitment to anti-oppressive practice and the ability to use the knowledge and skills gained to improve and enhance the effectiveness of any service they join on completion of their studies. The curricular is both creative, current and challenging promoting the importance of multi professional working and principles of professional integration on local, national and global levels.

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Facilities & Features

UoP Social Work Inclusion Group

On this course you’ll work closely with the University of Portsmouth Social Work Inclusion Group (SWIG) – a service user group with experience of working, directly or indirectly, with social workers. SWIG members aim to help you understand service user experiences and enable you to hear their narratives. Our ethos and commitment is built upon professional values developing new and innovatory approaches based on an understanding of co-production and partnership working. This is a great way to gain insight into service user needs and best social work practice.

Centre for Simulation in Health and Care

Our aim is to enhance your learning and experiences through the use of innovative technologies. You’ll practise profession-specific skills in a safe and supportive environment as well as experience the types of clinical and informal healthcare situations that you’ll encounter in the workplace. The Centre is used to simulate real-life scenarios – a great way to prepare you for the real thing during placement.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

For mandatory placements you will need to meet your own travel costs, which will vary depending on the distance travelled and mode of transport.

The NHS may meet some of the costs incurred.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

On successful completion of the course you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), enabling you to work as a professional social worker in a wide variety of statutory, voluntary and independent sector agencies. This course will enable you to develop the flexibility to work in any sector of social work – children and families, mental health, disabilities, vulnerable adults or in the wide range of voluntary and independent organisations providing services to people who are homeless, misuse substances, are in the criminal justice system or who have experience of the care system.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • social worker
  • care manager
  • persistent offender coordinator
  • family support worker
  • housing adviser

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply to this course through UCAS

Postgraduate Information Days

Visit us on one of our Postgraduate Information Days on Wednesday 14 March or Wednesday 25 April 2018 from 4-7pm to meet subject specialists and admissions teams, who'll provide information and guidance on our taught Master's courses and research degrees.

Book your place

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours.

Can't get to Portsmouth?

If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and see us at one of the events we attend around the UK.

If you would like to speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email and we will arrange this for you.

Staff from our International Office also regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484