Advanced Social Work MA

Why choose this course?

This course for registered social workers gives busy practitioners structured opportunities for critical reflection in our well-resourced and research-informed learning community. It is designed and managed in consultation with employers, partner agencies and those accessing social work services.

It complements the range of development opportunities available to qualified social workers (including in-house training and career planning) and can be a springboard for progression to doctoral studies. This course offers a choice of MA, PgCert and PgDip; you will be able to follow the programme that suits your needs.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Part time 3 years 1 day a week depending on module choice September 2020

Please note: you can take free-standing modules as part of your CPPD in social work. The following qualifications are also available:

  • Professional Development in Social Work PgCert
  • Professional Development in Social Work PgDip
  • Leadership and Management in Social Care PgCert
Location Kingston Hill

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • The course incorporates recent changes in social work education and regulation; these include the Chief Social Workers' Knowledge and Skills Statements and responds to the requirements of Social Work England.  
  • Kingston University has a strong teaching partnership with organisations across South West London and Surrey to ensure you will be kept up-to-date with current practice.   
  • You will have excellent opportunities to network with experienced practitioners in specialist roles. 

What you will study

This flexible format allows you to construct a programme of study to suit your professional profile and areas of developing expertise while benefiting from exchange with practitioners in other specialist roles.  

You can combine specialist components across adult and children's services, such as in the Best Interests Assessor module, with generic elements, such as supervision, professional education and leadership, management and decision making. 


You will need to successfully complete two 30 credit modules to gain the postgraduate certificate; four 30 credit modules to gain the postgraduate diploma; and four 30 credit modules plus the 'capstone' project to gain the MA.

Available modules

Best Interests Assessor

30 credits

This module will enable students: 

  • To undertake the statutory role of the Best Interests Assessor in applying the principles and provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguards in practice. 
  • Keep appropriate records and to provide clear and reasoned reports in accordance with legal requirements and best practice. 
  • Develop the skills necessary to undertake the Best Interests Assessor role in a person centred manner that promotes human rights and recognises the capabilities and strengths of vulnerable people within a rights-based approach. 

Successful completion of the module will prepare students to undertake the statutory role of Best Interests Assessor (BIA). The BIA is responsible for deciding whether a person is being deprived of their liberty, whether it is in their best interests and for how long an authorisation should last. 

On successful completion of this module students will have the opportunity to return to the university to attend a one day ‘Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in Action' workshop that is included as part of the course. This will enable newly qualified Best Interest Assessors to share their experiences, gain peer support and enable a reflection of practice alongside an identification of future learning and support needs. 

Individual Work-based Learning Project

30 credits

This module provides an opportunity for students to undertake, under academic supervision, work-based projects and gain credit for this work. The work-based learning approach assumes self-directed and autonomous learning. The module develops the student's own critical reflection skills and to work as a mature self-directed student. Learning outcomes and the method of working will be agreed jointly by the student, module leader / academic supervisor and workplace mentor. The assessment strategy is based upon the principle that work based activities can be used to generate critical reflection and learning outcomes which are consistent with M level academic attainment. The assessment submission can take a variety of forms such as reports, essays, discussion documents, and practice analysis.

Mentoring, Coaching and Advanced Assessment of Professional Practice

30 credits

This module aims to equip students to mentor, coach and assess colleagues at post-registration levels. It promotes critical evaluation of theoretical, professional and policy approaches to mentoring, coaching and holistic assessment of professional practice. The knowledge, understanding, values and skills necessary for mentoring and assessing professional practice in social work and related settings are examined. Students are assisted to develop strategies and techniques to enhance their skills in mentoring, coaching and assessment of professional colleagues in different contexts in practice settings. Students are required to mentor, coach and assess colleagues as part of the practicum for this module.

  • Code: SW7014
Practice Education Stage 1

30 credits

This module equips registered social workers to undertake the responsibilities of a Stage 1 Practice Educator (Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS) of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). Students who complete this module successfully will be able to supervise, teach and assess social work degree students up to but not including the final assessment prior to qualification. At this stage they may contribute to the last placement but not take full responsibility for assessment or act as the practice educator on a day-to-day basis. Students undertaking this module are required to undertake a practicum which entails acting as a Stage 1 practice educator to a degree in social work student on a first placement (70 days).

This module is only available to registered social workers with two years or more post-registration practice experience. It is targeted at social worker/experienced social worker level.

Practice Education Stage 2

30 credits

This module equips registered social workers to undertake the responsibilities of a Stage 2 Practice Educator (Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS) of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). Students who complete this module successfully will be able to supervise, teach and assess social work degree students up to and including the last placement and to work with ASYE candidates. In effect, these practice educators will have the authority and capability to recommend, on the basis of appropriate evidence, that the social work students are fit to practise at the point of qualification. The module includes practice assessment.

This module is only available to registered social workers with three years or more post-registration practice experience and who have completed Practice Educator Stage 1 or equivalent. It is targeted at experienced social worker level.

Safeguarding Adults at Risk

15 credits

This module has been developed to enable professionals in health and social care settings to develop their knowledge and skills in supporting adults at risk. The introduction of the Care Act 2014 and ‘Making Safeguarding Personal', developed by the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, promotes a cultural shift towards outcome-focused, person-centred approaches in how we support adults at risk. The Care Act 2014 puts safeguarding adults on a statutory footing and sets out the legal responsibilities for all partner agencies across health and social care in supporting adults at risk. Safeguarding Adults Reviews alongside Serious Untoward Incidents within the NHS have identified that practitioners and organisations need to understand their legal roles and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding adults. This module will develop practitioner confidence, enabling them to critically reflect on their practice to ensure it is person-centred, legally literate and informed by current research, legislation and policy. This module will explore key topics in contemporary practice, including working with people who self-neglect, ‘Making Safeguarding Personal', the legal framework for adult safeguarding (which includes but is not limited to the Care Act 2014).

Required module (MA students only)

Final Research Project (Capstone)

60 credits

This module is required for students undertaking studies at Masters Level and is normally taken after achieving PG Diploma Level. The module will provide students with the experience of utilising principles of research and academic writing and thus demonstrate the intellectual skills learnt on the course. Students are expected to critically review research and to evaluate the evidence underpinning their own practice. The module will provide students with the opportunity to implement the knowledge and skills developed during the previous modules by conducting research focused on a topic of their choice related to their area of practice with the support of a research supervisor. The module will enhance students' presentation and publication skills as the assessment includes writing an abstract, oral presentation and writing an article suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A professional qualification in social work and substantial current or recent experience in a relevant setting for the course.


All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 7.0 overall with special conditions in all elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

If you require a Student Route visa to reside in the UK you may not be able to enrol on a part-time programme at the University. Kingston University has carefully considered the Student Route visa and has decided not to offer Student Route visa part-time study. Student Route visa sponsorship is only available to students studying on a full-time course.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Changes from 1 August 2022

This course is currently offered through a partnership with St George's, University of London, the Faculty of Health Social Care and Education. For students enrolling from 2022, the course will be delivered through a structure which is the sole responsibility of Kingston University. There will be no impact on the teaching or the award of the degree. Read here for further information about the changes.

Teaching and assessment

The MA in Advanced Social Work offers a structured professional development pathway to assist qualified social workers in meeting capabilities and standards of practice that are consistent with the role of experienced and advanced practitioners.

It incorporates core elements relating to social work education and professional regulation, such as the Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work (PCF) and standards for continuing professional development set by Social Work England and the Chief Social Workers' Knowledge and Skills Statements.

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking and preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS – the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Assessment can include presentations, essays, critical reviews, online quizzes, posters, portfolio of practice, assessed practice, projects and a 'capstone' project that will enable you to produce an account of original research that is suitable for publication in a refereed journal.

The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

  • 100% coursework

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetable

1 day a week depending on module choice.

Who teaches this course?

Every member of the teaching staff has substantial practice experience in social work. In addition, many are actively involved in social work research, presenting regularly at conferences and publishing in books and journals. In addition, our course teams draw on the wealth of experience provided by our professional contacts and service users and carers who feed into the design of our courses and provide teaching and supervision to enrich your learning.

We have strong links with the NHS, education and healthcare providers and social services, and we also offer classic postgraduate programmes alongside research and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities.

Course fees and funding

Here you can find more details about fees for this course, as well as any funding opportunities available to you for this course. Please note that fees relate to the academic year in question and will increase in future years.

2021/22 fees for this course

  • Home – £7,185
  • International – £15,000

Individual module fees 2020/21

Please note that you can take free-standing modules as part of your CPPD in social work. The 2020/21 individual module fees are as follows:

Module Module fee for Home/EU students
Best Interest Assessor £1,725 (*£1,400)
Final Research Project (capstone) £3,000
Practice Education Stage 1 £350 (reduced from £1,725)
Practice Education Stage 2 £350 (reduced from £1,725)
Safeguarding Adults at Risk £900 (*675)

*Discounts available for selected partner agencies. Contact us for information.

Recognised partner agencies: Achieving for Children, NSPCC, Welcare, Surrey County Council and the London Boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, Wandsworth, Sutton, Croydon, and Merton.


Visit our Fees and funding page to find out about the student funding options available to help you fund your postgraduate studies. 

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting this masters degree course Kingston, you will be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000.

Please note: this only applies to study on the full masters degree programme, not for individual short course modules, PGCert or PGDip. To be eligible for the postgraduate loan, all modules must be completed within four years of enrolling on the MA Advanced Social Work course, prior credits cannot be included. For more information, please contact 

International students

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

Discounts for Kingston University alumni

Kingston University is pleased to offer a 10% discount on full-time and part-time postgraduate degree course tuition fees (including PGCE courses) to our alumni. Visit our Alumni discount page to find out more.

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.


Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residence. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.


Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Social Work Skills Lab

The skills lab is a purpose-built facility where social work students have the opportunity to learn and to practise key social work skills.

Social workers undertaking continuing professional development courses develop their assessment and intervention skills and other skills such as mentoring, teaching and providing reflective supervision.

What's available?

The skills lab is divided into several sections including:

  • a seminar/case conference room for a maximum of 20 people;
  • a simulated living-room and front door to assist in developing skills relating to home visits;
  • five interview rooms simulating work environments;
  • a control room with two-way mirror and viewing monitors; and
  • all rooms have fitted cameras and microphones so that activities can be recorded.

A flexible, creative space

The skills lab has been designed to be a multi-functional space which allows flexible use. The furniture is all portable and can be changed according to the simulated activities required.

The small rooms can be used for practising communication skills and simulating supervision sessions.

The large room can be used as a teaching or seminar room and can be set up as a simulated case conference room or duty desk.

Participants have the opportunity to engage in creative skills development activities and benefit from live supervision and feedback from the recorded material.

Where this course will take you

This degree programme offers a structured professional development pathway to assist qualified social workers in meeting capabilities and standards of practice that are consistent with the role of experienced and advanced practitioners.

The skills and knowledge gained through this degree will assist practitioners at these levels in undertaking diverse roles such as team leader, workforce development manager, service manager, principal social worker, and other senior leadership and management roles. This course also offers a route to undertaking further research and scholarship potentially leading to doctoral studies.

Links with business and industry

We are involved in a unique teaching partnership with seven local authorities and two voluntary sector agencies, including Achieving for Children, Croydon Adult and Children's services, Kingston Adult services, Merton Adult and Children's services, Surrey Children's services, Sutton Adult and Children's services, Richmond & Wandsworth Adult services, Wandsworth Children's services, NSPCC and Welcare.

The course has strong long-standing links with other local employers in south-west London and Surrey including:

Practising social workers are involved in teaching, bringing theory to life with their front-line experiences.

Representatives of service users and carers contribute to assessment and quality assurance on our programme.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education are research active, often in partnership with NHS Trusts. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies.

Social work research activity focuses around several key areas:

  • risk and child abuse;
  • children's rights;
  • learning processes and partnership approaches in professional education;
  • management of child protection systems;
  • safeguarding adults;
  • mental capacity; and
  • effectiveness of community-based responses to crime.

We conduct much of our social care research and consultancy either in partnership with or on behalf of the social service, voluntary sector and probation agencies.

What our students say

I gained my Postgraduate Certificate in Social Work at Kingston University in 2011. I had been a practitioner with Wandsworth Borough Council for several years and this helped to bring the learning and theory together. I was excited by both study and sharing learning with others.

Soon I was on the Practice Educator course, supporting students in different ways. When the opportunity to become a teaching consultant arrived, I was hooked! Training and reflection around this brought extra academic credits. It fitted with my role as a Professional Practice Development Assessor (PPDA), assessing newly qualified social workers on the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment programme.

At Kingston University, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and got to know myself a little more. In my work with the Teaching Partnership, I used this experience to share understanding of dyslexia and other differences that might impact access to learning.

The Covid lockdown brought a shift and change to social work supervision and inspired my Capstone project. I enjoyed completing the research around virtual social work supervision and would love to do some more! I notice my confidence in academia has increased and it has brought energy to my PPDA role and SRA/Practice Assessor role with Kingston University. Being able to reach others and support learning in different ways is great."

Sue Connell, MA Advanced Social Work 2021

Sue Connell, MA Advanced Social Work 2021