Social work students in conversation
Mode of Study
2 years full-time
Start Date
September 2022


If you want to be a professional social worker and already have a degree in a relevant subject, our MSc Social Work course will enable you to become a confident practitioner in the changing arena of social work.

With an emphasis on professionalism, professional judgement, relationship-focused work and protection, you'll learn to work across the social work spectrum, with some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Once you graduate, you'll be eligible to apply to register as a social worker with the profession's regulator, Social Work England.

You'll have the skills and techniques you need to work in any social work setting, such as with children and families, adults, disabled people, older people and/or people with mental health problems, and in local authorities, healthcare settings or private, independent or voluntary organisations.

Social Work England approved course logo

Approved by:

This Master's course is a professional qualification for social work approved by Social Work England. Once you've graduated, you will be eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England, which means you can work as a professional Social Worker in statutory, voluntary and independent sector agencies.

Entry requirements​

MSc Social Work Master's degree entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • An upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject or a degree in an associated discipline. Applicants with a lower classification (second class) will be considered on an individual basis, considering relevant experience and academic achievement.
  • Applicants must also have relevant work experience, more than 3 months in voluntary or paid employment in a health, education or social care environment.
  • GCSE Mathematics at grade C/4 or above.
English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Selection process
  • All shortlisted applicants are subject to a holistic and multidimensional assessment process which has been designed in accordance with Social Work England's standards, and includes an application, group discussion, individual presentation and an interview.
  • All offers are subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance and Occupational Health clearance.

Supporting your application

We welcome students from diverse backgrounds including those who have experience of social care. If you're a care leaver, or if you feel you need further information or support to apply for this course, we can offer you a virtual support session to help guide you through the admissions process.

We'll send you details of this after you apply. You'll also get as much support as you need through phone and email, and have access to ongoing personal and financial support during your course. Find out more about support for care leavers.

What you'll experience

On this course you'll:

  • Be taught by expert staff and researchers who are active in the social work field
  • Learn through simulation, group work and skills workshops
  • Study the theory and practice of social work, empowering service users and promoting inclusion, and legal and policy frameworks
  • Understand how to work with children and families, mental health patients, people with disabilities and vulnerable adults
  • Work closely with the University of Portsmouth Social Work Inclusion Group (SWIG), to help you understand service user experiences
  • Practise your profession-specific skills in our Centre for Simulation in Health and Care, a safe and supportive environment which uses innovative technologies to simulate real-life scenarios
  • Put your learning into action on practice placements

Covid-19 vaccinations

The Government has made full Covid-19 vaccination status a condition of deployment for all frontline health and social-care workers from 1 April 2022. This includes students undertaking work placements in health and social-care settings.

BSc (Hons) Social Work and MSc Social Work applicants should be aware that the course does make use of placements in Health and Social Care settings as well as other placements that are insisting upon full vaccinations and whilst at this time it will be possible to complete the course whilst unvaccinated, your choice of placements will be restricted.

The Government guidance around this and advice from Social Work England will be monitored including the definition of what constitutes full Covid-19 vaccination status.

If you have any questions please email

Careers and opportunities

When you graduate from the MSc Social Work degree course, you'll have the knowledge and practical skills to work in any branch of social work.

What jobs can you do with a social work degree?

As a newly qualified social worker (NQSW), there are a number of opportunities open to you.

Most local authorities in England operate a scheme for newly qualified practitioners, the Approved and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).  This provides intensive supervision and guidance in your first year as well as a protected caseload.

Our graduates have gone to work for organisations including:

  • Local Authority Children and Families teams
  • Local Authority Adults teams
  • Multidisciplinary mental health teams
  • Youth Offending Teams (YOTs)
  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCAS)
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • Society of St James
  • Red Cross
  • Homestart
  • MIND

Work experience and career planning

We'll help you to identify opportunities that will complement your studies.

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your social work skills to work.

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

What you'll study on this MSc Social Work degree course


Year 1
Year 2

Core modules in this year include:

  • Core Skills Training Framework – 0 credits
  • Inclusion and Co-production – 15 credits
  • Legal and Policy Frameworks for Social Work – 30 credits
  • MSc Social Work Placement 1 – 15 credits
  • MSc Social Work Skills Days Year 1 – 0 credits
  • MSc Social Work Tutorials Year 1 – 0 credits
  • Social Work Theory, Methods and Skills – 30 credits

There are no optional modules in this year.

Core modules in this year include:

  • Contextualising Social Work Practice – 15 credits
  • Core Skills Training Framework Repeat Level 5 – 0 credits
  • Dissertation – 30 credits
  • Evaluating Research for Social Work – 30 credits
  • MSc Social Work Placement 2 – 15 credits
  • MSc Social Work Skills Days Year 2 – 0 credits
  • MSc Social Work Tutorials Year 2 – 0 credits
  • Occupational Health Year 2 – 0 credits

There are no optional modules in this year.

Changes to course content

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, course content is revised and regularly reviewed.  This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

Learning support

As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Support with English

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.


We're planning a blended approach to learning and teaching, consisting of timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision.

Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • live lectures
  • recorded lectures
  • seminars
  • one-to-one tutorials
  • practice placements with service users and carers
  • roleplaying and simulation work

You'll work both independently and in groups with other students. You'll also take part in longer ‘skills days’ that provide a practice specific perspective on particular issues related to social work.

How you'll spend your time

Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

  • September to December (October to December in 2020/21) – teaching block 1
  • January – assessment period 1
  • January to mid-May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
  • Mid-May to early June – assessment period 2

Most teaching takes place from Monday to Friday. During placements, you'll spend 4 days a week on placement and 1 day at University.

How you're assessed

You'll be assessed both as you study and at the end of modules using innovative assessment methods designed to enhance your learning.

Assessment methods include:

  • essays
  • exams
  • live presentations
  • reflective accounts
  • group assessments
  • practice portfolios

Values, the NHS Constitution and Social Work England

We embed the principles and values of the NHS Constitution in all our health and social care courses. When you apply for this course, we’ll expect you to demonstrate how your values align with the values of the Constitution.

Find out more about the values we look for

The values in the NHS Constitution (working for patients, respect and dignity, commitment to quality of care, compassion, improving lives, and everyone counts) align with Social Work England's Professional Standards.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (2022 start)

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students

  • Full-time: £10,900 per year (subject to annual increase)

EU students

International students

  • Full-time: £16,200 per year (subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get, such as the MSc Social Work bursary.

Please note that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Department for Education (DfE) allocate a fixed number of undergraduate and postgraduate social work bursaries to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) delivering qualifying social work programmes. As the number of students starting social work programmes can exceed the number of bursaries available, there is no guarantee that all students will receive a bursary.  

You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. 

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

For mandatory placements you'll 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.


September 2022 start

International students

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us (above) or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.

This site uses cookies. Click here to view our cookie policy message.

Accept and close