Master of Social Work (MSW)

Why choose this course?

The Masters of Social Work is a postgraduate intensive qualification that will enable you to train to become a social worker in two years.

The MSW is accredited by Social Work England (SWE), the professional UK regulator. Once you graduate, you must apply to register with Social Work England to work as a qualified social worker.

You will be taught by social work academics, researchers, expert practitioners and people with lived experience, spanning the range of specialist social work fields. This prepares students to become social workers in their chosen areas of specialist social work practice, equipped with a broad range of theory and evidence.

The course provides transformative learning experiences in a supportive, inclusive environment. It is underpinned by a psycho-social and life-course approach, encouraging critical thinking and anti-discriminatory practice in response to the needs of people and communities.

We have a state-of-the-art innovative skills lab to help you to learn and develop practice skills, preparing you for field learning in your two practice placements.

UCAS code Mode Duration Attendance Start date
L508 Full time 2 years 3 days a week (University days), 5 days a week (placements) September 2024
L510 Part time 3 years 1.5 days a week (University days), 5 days a week (placements) September 2024
Location Kingston Hill

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • The MSW is recognised and approved by Social Work England, the professional regulator for social work. Once you graduate, you need to register with Social Work England to start work as a qualified social worker.
  • Our Developing Together teaching partnership with local authorities and voluntary agencies creates a leading social work education community shaped by academic research and frontline practice.
  • The MSW is an internationally recognised Social Work qualification, with our graduates successfully transferring their qualification across the globe. Our alumni are currently working in countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia.

What you will study

You will gain the core knowledge, skills and values required for social work practice. On this programme you will learn about effective approaches to work with children and their families and adults at risk (including older adults, and mental health social work practice). You will study legal, policy and ethical frameworks for social work practice; human development; social work methods of assessment and intervention.

A specialist practice interest module provides you with the opportunity to undertake an in depth study in a chosen area of special interest and can be taken in a national or international setting.

Modules (Year one)

Modules (Year two)

Core modules

Readiness for Direct Practice

30 credits

This module runs throughout the first year and focuses on readiness for direct practice. It is an interactive module which includes skills workshops and a high level of involvement from service users, carers and practice educators from partner agencies. You will learn about the role and tasks of social workers and develop professional skills in verbal and written communication. You will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on written work and on your communication skills. People with lived experience and carers provide simulated interviews in the Practice Learning Suite.

Assessment and Intervention

30 credits

The focus of this module is to enable you to develop theoretical foundational knowledge of social work assessment and intervention methods, informed by psychological and sociological theories, and research. You will develop core skills to analyse and explain situations, draw hypotheses about potential outcomes, and select intervention methods to achieve desired outcomes. You will also develop skills in communication and knowledge in building, maintaining and sustaining relationships as well as critical reflection and analysis in order to evaluate interventions' effectiveness. Learning will involve applying concepts from theory and research in lectures, interactive workshops, and role plays in the skills lab, investigatory experiences and through formative and summative assignments.

Human Development and the Social Environment

30 credits

This module will enable you to gain an understanding of human development that is underpinned by the value of difference and diversity. A life course perspective will inform the content of the module, incorporating key theoretical frameworks and research findings. There will be a critical focus on the interaction of social, political, cultural, economic and environmental influences on people's lives. Ideas of normative development, including key milestones in childhood and adolescence, will therefore be underpinned by a critical understanding of structural inequalities, which may affect individual development and perpetuate the difficulties experienced by some groups and communities. Relevance to social work will be highlighted through case studies, targeted reading, and facilitated discussions. Experiential and reflective learning will be promoted through a structured child observation task and reflective seminars.

Applied Social Work Practice

30 credits

This module will enable you to build on your core skills and deepen your knowledge of diverse practice contexts by developing a critical understanding of the factors that impact on provision of social work services. In this module, you will develop an understanding of key contemporary issues in social work and gain awareness of how these developments underpin the provision of social work services, and the implications when applying social work theory. Learning will involve applying concepts from theory and research in lectures, interactive workshops, investigatory experiences and through formative and summative assignments.

Legal, Ethical and Policy Frameworks for Social Work Practice

30 credits

This module provides an introduction to law, ethics and policy for social work. You will gain a critical and applied understanding of frameworks that central to the decision making in social work practice. You will be introduced to specialist law, relevant to social work with children and families, youth justice, mental health, equality and adult safeguarding.

You will develop research skills to inform critical analysis and appraisal of law, ethics and policy considering tensions and possible implications for practice, such as systemic issues, power imbalances and discrimination.

Your learning opportunities are mapped to meet the requirements of legal literacy contained within the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), and the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS).

First Placement

30 credits

This module is a practice placement of seventy days, undertaken in an agency within the statutory or voluntary sector. We organise this placement for you, with the help of our Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership. You will be working alongside qualified social workers and social care staff, and provided with learning opportunities. You will be supported and supervised by practice learning staff in your placement setting. You will be expected to evidence your developing practice throughout your placement, which will be assessed against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).

Core modules

Specialist Practice Interest

30 credits

You will undertake an in-depth organisational study in a chosen area of special interest that has relevance to social work. Potential areas of study are specialist therapeutic interventions, rights, justice, promoting the wellbeing of service users, service user engagement; social work in allied health settings, social work and supra national organisations, management and quality assurance of services. These studies can be taken in a national or international context which will enable you to draw comparisons between different modes of service delivery and evaluate these.

Second Placement

30 credits

This module is a final practice placement of one hundred days, undertaken in an agency within the statutory or voluntary sector. We organise this placement for you, with the help of our Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership. You will be working alongside qualified social workers and social care staff, and provided with learning opportunities to develop your autonomous practice. You will be supported and supervised by practice learning staff in your placement setting. You will build on your previous placement experience and knowledge, and continue to evidence your practice to meet the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the final placement level.

Independent Study: A Capstone Project

30 credits

You will explore existing research and analyse an area of inquiry that has relevance for social work. Through your capstone project, you are expected to contribute to existing research and social work knowledge concerning the topic selected. Following selection of your topic, you will read widely and build up a relevant literature review of research and publication in the area. You will link your literature review to relevant implications for the social work profession.

Through attendance at taught sessions, you will be able to classify research according to its epistemological position and methodological approach, and identify the advantages and disadvantages of a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences by critically analysing research featured in a range of social work literature.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • A degree at 2:1 or above, normally in a social science subject.
  • Demonstrable experience in the social care sector, obtained through paid employment or as a volunteer or user/carer experience; and have other work/life experience related to the sector or likely to be of value to the sector.
  • All applicants must confirm prior to interview that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet browsing and use of email.

Additional requirements

GCSE at grade 4 or above (or grade C or above for GCSEs taken before 2017) in five subjects, including English Language or equivalent qualification e.g. Functional/Key skills level 2 in literacy. Non-native speakers who do not have the equivalent of GCSE English at grade 4 (formerly grade C) or an equivalent (e.g. Functional Skills Level 2 Literacy) require an Academic IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent overall.

Covid-19 vaccination requirement

The Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and Social Work England strongly encourage everyone eligible to be fully vaccinated against Covid 19 to keep yourselves and your community safe.

We are aware that some placement providers may require their staff and students to be fully vaccinated for some clinical areas. The University position is to strongly recommend everyone eligible to be fully vaccinated for health and care courses.

You can book your vaccinations here.

You can read information about Coronavirus vaccines here.

International

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.

You will also need to successfully complete an interview, an Occupational Health screening and an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (see below). Please note: if you have not been a resident in the UK for the past 5 years, you will be required to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the country where you were living. This application is through the UK government's criminal record check for overseas applicants portal.

If you require a Student Route visa to reside in the UK you will not be able to enrol on a part-time programme at the University.

Country-specific information

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

Find your country:

Interview and selection

Our selection process consists of an online interview with an academic accompanied by either a teaching partner or person with lived experience. You will also need to complete a short written assessment online.

Admission is subject to Occupational Health screening and an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check including checks against the Adult and Child Workforce Barring Lists if you are offered and accept a place on the course. If you have not been living in the UK for 5 years, we require a certificate of good conduct from the country where you were living.

Teaching and assessment

You will become equipped with the core knowledge, skills and values required for social work practice. On this programme you will learn about effective approaches to work with children and their families and adults at risk (including older adults, and mental health social work practice). You will study legal, policy and ethical frameworks for social work practice; human development; social work methods of assessment and intervention.

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

This course is validated as a full time programme. You will attend university three days a week and undertake independent study (self-managed time) two days a week. In Year 1, you will have a 70-day placement. In Year 2, you will have a 100-day placement. Placements are full time, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 1
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 331 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1184 hours
  • Placement (70 days) approximately: 490 hours
Year 2
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 67 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1184 hours
  • Placement (100 days) approximately: 700 hours

Year 1

  • 16.5% of your time will be spent in scheduled learning and teaching
  • 59.1% of your time will be spent in guided independent study (self-managed time)
  • 24.4% of your time will be spent in practice placement

Year 2

  • 5.1% of your time will be spent in scheduled learning and teaching
  • 53.5% of your time will be spent in guided independent study (self-managed time)
  • 41.3% of your time will be spent in practice placement

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises individual and group presentations, essays, case studies, portfolio, poster, feedback, practice assessment and final capstone project.

Year 1

  • 78% coursework
  • 22% practical

Year 2

  • 67% coursework
  • 33% practical

Feedback summary

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

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, people with lived experience 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.

Developing Together Teaching Partnership

logo: Developing Together Teaching Partnership

We are part of the Developing Together teaching partnership with local authorities and voluntary agencies, which provides a leading social work education community shaped by academic research and frontline practice and a dynamic programme of post-qualifying learning and development for social workers.

The partnership aims to create a culture of ongoing learning, research and support to grow and retain a community of passionate and capable social work professionals that will meet with the region's future workforce demands.

Primary partner agencies

  • Achieving for Children
  • Croydon Adult services
  • Croydon Children's services
  • Kingston Adult services
  • Merton Adult services
  • Merton Children's services
  • Richmond & Wandsworth Adult services
  • Sutton Adult services
  • Sutton Children's services
  • Wandsworth Children's services
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Welcare
  • Kingston University

Secondary partner agencies:

  • Surrey Children's services

Fees for this course

Important: international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to pay a deposit in order to receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from Kingston University. This applies to all full-time postgraduate taught masters courses.

2024/25 fees for this course

Home 2024/25

  • Masters full time £8,500
  • Masters part time £4,250

International 2024/25

  • Masters full time £15,500
  • Masters part time £8,525

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • Masters full time £8,500
  • Masters part time £4,250

International 2023/24

  • Masters full time £15,400
  • Masters part time £8,470

Tuition fee information for future course years

Full time MSW (2 years)

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Part time MSW (3 years)

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years. The third year is charged at the full-time rate corresponding with your year of entry.

If you take a break before starting your second year or third year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 or Year 2, your future fees may increase in line with the course's annual increase.

Funding

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

Social work bursary

Bursaries may be available for some full-time students following the qualifying Master of Social Work (MSW) programme. 

The Department of Health and Social Care has a bursary scheme for students taking the Master of Social Work programme, but not all students receive bursary funding. The Department of Health requires the university to rank students for bursary funding, and we do this on the basis of the scores obtained in the written test and interviews which are part of our selection process. This is a Department of Health scheme, and may be subject to change.

For more detailed information please go to the NHS bursary website

Social work internships

The Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership offers a number of unpaid student internships each year to both undergraduate and masters social work students studying at Kingston University.

Successful students will undertake two practice placements within their preferred local authority before being interviewed for a newly-qualified social worker position upon graduating.

Placements are available in a variety of practice settings and the scheme is ideal for students who have a clear idea of which organisation they might like to work for at the end of their degree. Organisations that have offered internships to date are:

  • Achieving for Children (providing children's services for Kingston and Richmond)
  • London Borough of Sutton (children's social work)
  • London Borough of Merton (adult social work)

Other partners that may offer future opportunities are:

  • London Borough of Croydon (adult social work)
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (adult social work)
  • London Borough of Sutton (adult social work)

Applications for masters students open in Autumn each year (at the start of the student's first year).

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.

International students

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

Postgraduate loans

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

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.

Textbooks

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

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.

Placements

All English students can apply for a travel bursary which is approximately £800 for help with travel to and from placement.

DBS check

The University pays for the processing of the application which is £51 but students are expected to pay a small fee (approximately £7) to the Post Office to get their ID documents verified and £13 per year for subscribing to the Update Service. This subscription allows universities and potential employers to view any changes to students' DBS.

Occupational health

You will need to fill out an Occupational Health Form. In some cases, we will require extra information and may ask you to get your GP to complete a routine screening form. All GPs have their own policies on charging fees for completion of these reports. The minimum fee recommended by the BMA is £30. Some GPs will not charge you for completion of the form but some GP surgeries are unable to make exceptions and will charge you the standard rate for their practice (in some cases this can be £50 or more). Neither the Faculty nor Occupational Health will be able to reimburse students for fees charged by their GP.

The majority of the required vaccinations should be free from your GP or via the NHS. Our Occupational Health Service will see you in the first two weeks of the course to ensure you have obtained the necessary vaccinations and will undertake any vaccinations/screening tests you have missed. Neither the Faculty nor Occupational Health will be able to reimburse students for any fees charged by their GP or other vaccination providers for vaccinations incurring a cost. If you are being charged for a vaccination we would suggest that you wait until you start the course where you will be able to obtain the vaccination at no cost to yourself.

Membership and professional fees

Social Work England renewal fee for qualified social workers is £90 a year.

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.

After you graduate

On completing the course you will be eligible to apply to the Social Work England to register as a social worker. Employment opportunities are available in:

  • Children's services and family support
  • Community care and adult services
  • Adult/youth criminal justice services
  • Community, day, residential and health settings
  • Mental health, disability, learning disabilities, older adults, addictions, and forensic services
  • Portable social work qualification that you can use to work overseas.
  • Post-qualifying programmes available

Good career development opportunities and post-qualifying training and awards are now an established part of the social work profession.

After you graduate

Accreditation

This course is designed to give suitable graduates a professional qualification in social work. On successful completion, you gain a Master of Social Work (MSW), and you will be able to apply for registration with Social Work England.

Extra activities for this course

There are always interesting activities taking place at Kingston and exciting opportunities to take advantage of. Here are some examples of what you could be involved with if you study this course.

Social work conference

The Department of Social Work and Social Care is delighted to present its annual conference and evening seminar series.

We host an annual social work research conference, which:

  • features distinguished keynote speakers
  • showcases recently completed or ongoing research in the University
  • gives staff and masters students the chance to disseminate their research through seminar presentations
  • attracts an audience of practitioners and academics.

Social work seminars

We also run a series of seminars, running either every month or every other month at the Kingston Hill campus. They include a distinguished keynote speaker and a presentation. The seminars are free and open to:

  • all staff in local social services organisations in the statutory, voluntary and private sector
  • service users, carers and their organisations that assist with the social work education programmes at the University.

Recent speakers have included:

  • Marian Brandon (discussing serious case reviews: lessons for the protection of children)
  • Hári Sewell (discussing mental health and race, culture and ethnicity)
  • Sir Roger Singleton (discussing working with government to strengthen the safeguarding of children)
  • Ann MacFarlane and John Evans (discussing the history and impact of the disability movement - views from the inside)
  • Naomi Eisenstadt CB on 'Sure Start and Lessons for the Future'
  • Dr Margaret Flynn on 'Lessons for safeguarding adults from the Winterbourne View and other serious case reviews'
  • The Findings of the National Pilot Study of Personal Health Budgets' (presented by a leading member of the research team)

For more information and booking, contact Rick Hood via Rick.Hood@sgul.kingston.ac.uk.

Working with practitioners

Key stakeholders representing agencies, service users and carers support the Social Work MSW. This helps to ensure your studies are up to date and relevant to the current and future needs of the workplace. You will benefit from:

  • teaching partnerships - links with practice teaching consultants who contribute to teaching at the university;
  • the chance to shadow experienced social workers and make observation visits;
  • plenty of opportunities to put your own skills into practice, thanks to two placements totalling 170 days during the two years of the MSW; and
  • teaching and experiential learning with staff who are fully qualified in their area of expertise - many are also expert practitioners.

Please note that placements are arranged with our partner agencies, which are all geographically close to the University. The maximum travelling time to placements will normally not exceed two hours each way from the University.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff 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
  • effectiveness of community-based responses to crime
  • evaluation of practice education.

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.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.