Master of Social Work (MSW)

Why choose this course?

This two-year universal qualification is an integration of theory and frontline practical experience. It covers all client groups including child and family, adult, and mental health. You will become eligible to apply for entry onto the register of qualified social workers after completing the course.

Our MSW is recognised across the UK and internationally.

Studying at master's level will give you the opportunity to analyse social work in depth and develop your skills in our purpose-built skills lab by critically examining the research evidence that forms best practice.

Our staff are experienced registered social workers, and up-to-date with latest research.

Service users and carers play a key role in social work education, they contribute to teaching, readiness for direct practice, interview students, take part in student role playing to ensure you have the most authentic experience before entering practice. Innovative teaching and learning, combining interactive workshops, peer learning, skills simulations, experiential learning and digital technology.

As part of the joint faculty of Kingston and St George's, University of London, there are opportunities to take part in interdisciplinary activities with other health and education professionals. If you are a graduate looking to gain a professional qualification in social work and to become eligible to apply for entry onto the register of qualified social workers, this two-year course is ideal.

The MSW is a unique internationally recognised qualification, popular in United States. You will have the opportunity to take part in an international placement.

The course is underpinned by the British Association of Social Workers' (BASW) Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and will enable you to meet the required standards for social workers in England.

UCAS code Mode Duration Attendance Start date
L508 Full time 2 years 3 days a week (University days), 5 days a week (placements) September 2020
L510 Part time 3 years 1.5 days a week (University days), 5 days a week (placements) September 2020
Location Kingston Hill

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Kingston is part of a teaching partnership with seven local authorities and two voluntary agencies. Expert social workers contribute to the teaching.
  • The course is underpinned by the British Association of Social Workers' (BASW) Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). You will be able to meet professional standards and register with Social Work England.
  • You will be well-prepared for your Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), once you have qualified and start work.

What you will study

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.

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 (stage one)

Modules (stage two)

Modules (stage three)

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. Students learn about the role and tasks of social workers and develop professional skills in verbal and written communication. They have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on written work and on their communication skills. Service users and carers provide simulated interviews in the Practice Learning Suite.

Assessment and Intervention

30 credits

The focus of this module is to enable students to develop theoretical foundational knowledge of social work assessment and intervention methods, informed by psychological and sociological theories, and research. This module will further enable students to develop core skills to analyse and explain situations, draw hypotheses about potential outcomes, and select intervention methods to achieve desired outcomes. The module will enable students to 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 students 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 particular 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 aims to enable students to build on their core skills and deepen their knowledge of diverse practice contexts by developing a critical understanding of the factors that impact on provision of social work services. In this module, students 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

It provides an introduction to law, ethics and policy for social work. These three framework areas are central to an understanding of the role played by social workers involved in making judgements and decisions that affect the lives of people using social work services. The module will introduce students to the three frameworks, highlight links between these frameworks and provide opportunities to apply them to problems and situations encountered in practice.

Progression to Stage Two modules requires 120 credits at Level 7 including a pass in level 4 module and satisfactory DBS and Occupational Health clearance. Students exiting the programme at this point who have successfully completed 120 credits at level 7 are eligible for the award of Post Graduate (PG) Certificate in Applied Social Care Studies.

Core modules

First Placement

30 credits

This module is a practice placement of seventy days, undertaken in an agency within the statutory or voluntary sector. Students will be provided with relevant learning opportunities and supported and supervised by practice learning staff. By the end of their placement, students will be expected to evidence their practice against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the standard required for students at the end of their first placement.

Progression to Stage Three modules requires 150 credits at Level 7 including passes in Level 4 and 5 modules and satisfactory DBS and Occupational Health clearance. Students exiting the programme at this point who have successfully completed 150 credits at level 7 are eligible for the award of Post Graduate Diploma (PG Dip) Applied Social Care Studies.

Core modules

Specialist Practice Interest

30 credits

This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake an in depth study in a chosen area of special interest that has relevance to social work. Students are encouraged to undertake an in-depth organisational study focusing on the provision of services. 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 students to draw comparisons between different modes of service delivery and evaluate these.

Second Placement

30 credits

The module is a practice placement of one hundred days, undertaken in an agency which offers statutory interventions. Students will be provided with relevant learning opportunities and supported and supervised by practice learning staff. By the end of their placement, students will be expected to evidence their practice against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at the standard required for students at qualifying level.

Independent Study: A Capstone Project

30 credits

This capstone project aims to enable students to select research and analyse an area of inquiry that has relevance for social work. Students are expected to, through scholarly endeavour; contribute to existing research and social work knowledge concerning the topic selected. Following selection of the topic, students should read widely and build up a relevant literature review of research and publication in the area. This literature review should then be linked to relevant implications for the social work profession. Through attendance at taught sessions, students will be able to classify research according to its epistemological position and methodological approach, and therefore 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. On successful completion of the module, students' projects that meet Kingston University guidelines for electronic publication will be published in a Year book.

 

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 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 and Mathematics or equivalent qualification e.g. Functional/Key skills level 2 in numeracy and 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.

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.

Interview and selection

You will be invited to attend a selection day prior to being offered a place. The selection process includes a written test, a role play and a series of mini interviews. Overseas applicants may undertake this process using video conferencing.

Admission is subject to occupational health screening and Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) enhanced check including checks against the Adult and Child Workforce Barring lists if you are offered and accept a place on the course.

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

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 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 3 days a week and undertake independent study 2 days a week.

Stage one

Stage two

Stage three

Stage one
  • Scheduled teaching: 313 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1187 hours
Stage two
  • Scheduled teaching: 27 hours
  • Guided independent study: 0 hours
  • Placement: 273 hours
Stage three
  • Scheduled teaching: 67 hours
  • Guided independent study: 341 hours
  • Placement: 492 hours

Stage one

  • 21% of your time will be spent in scheduled learning and teaching
  • 79% of your time will be spent in guided independent study

Stage two

  • 91% of your time will be spent in practice placement
  • 9% of your time will be spent in scheduled learning and teaching

Stage three

  • 55% of your time will be spent in placement
  • 7% of your time will be spent in scheduled learning and teaching
  • 38% of your time will be spent in guided independent study

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

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

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:

Stage one

  • 80% coursework
  • 14% written exam
  • 6% practical exam

Stage two

  • 100% coursework

Stage three

  • 100% coursework

Feedback summary

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

Who teaches this course?

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education. It is a unique partnership between Kingston University and St George's, University of London. This means you benefit from the experience and facilities of two complementary institutions.

Kingston University has a long-established reputation for high-quality, vocationally relevant education. St George's, University of London combines teaching and research excellence in areas directly applicable to healthcare sciences.

The combination of academics, expert practitioners, service users, carers and alumni give the Faculty a uniquely dynamic environment in which to further your studies and your career. We also have strong links with the NHS, education and healthcare providers and social services. Postgraduate research students may also contribute to the teaching of guest lectures.

We offer classic postgraduate programmes alongside research and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities.

Course fees and funding

If you require a Tier 1-5 visa to reside in the UK (this includes a Tier 4 student visa), you will not be able to enrol on a part-time programme at the University.

Important: international students from outside of 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.

2020/21 fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • £7,010 (Full time)
  • £3,520 (Part time)

International 2020/21

  • £14,650 (Full time)

 

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 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

Discounts for Kingston University alumni

Kingston University is pleased to offer a 10 per cent 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. 

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 to join Social Work England's register of social workers.

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 on-going research in the University;
  • gives staff and masters students the chance to disseminate their research through seminar presentations; and
  • 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; and
  • 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 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;
  • effectiveness of community-based responses to crime; and
  • 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.