Social Work MA

Key Facts

  • Level:


  • Duration:

    2 years Full-time

  • Starting:


  • UK Fees 23/24:

    Year 1: £6,000
    Year 2: £6,000

  • International Fees 23/24:


  • Location:

Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries
0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries
+44 (0)1604 893981


The MA Social Work programme offers a dynamic two-year course which equips students with the requisite skills, knowledge and capabilities to graduate as a professional Social Work practitioner ready to make a difference within the contemporary social care arena

Social Work continues to be a key professional role within UK society, seeking to promote social justice, address inequality and facilitate self-determination in those individuals and families requiring formal support.

Logo showing that this course is approved by the HCPC and is approved by Social Work England

Updated 01/12/2023


  • 200 days of direct practice and professional skills development designed to build confident and assertive practitioners
  • Opportunities to research and analyse challenging and contested areas of Social Work practice
  • Successful completion of your Social Work master degree leads to the opportunity to register with Social Work England as a Social Worker.

Course Content

  • The MA Social Work programme aims to prepare students for professional practice through a 2-year postgraduate course that blends key academic modules and rigorous placement experiences which focus on required professional standards appropriate to the delivery of assessment and support for those in need within our communities.

    The Social Work MA course has been designed to contribute towards achieving the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: SDG3 of Good Health and Wellbeing.

    Our MA Social Work programme is a challenging but ultimately rewarding route to professional qualification within a dynamic and multi-faceted career. The Social Work masters program itself is aligned with the education and professional standards of the current professional regulator – Social Work England. Additionally the academic and practice-focused material links with the British Association of Social Workers and Professional Capabilities Framework which starts at entry to the programme and follows professional development through to qualification.

    Studying for a Social Work MA offers opportunities to develop academic and professional skills, such as: analytical report writing; assessing and managing risk; developing an understanding of the application of legislation in practice; evidence-based and theory linked practice plus direct work with families, children and other professionals. A key focus within the programme is the skills development linked to practice placement experiences which enable students to further, test, analyse and develop their Social Work skills with a range of organisations and individuals.

    We have a broad range of placement providers which enables us to match students to suitable placements in the arenas of children in need, adults with mental health needs, youth offending, child protection and adult safeguarding, domestic abuse and education. All placements are quality assured by our dedicated placement team and full support is offered to all students whilst on placement via on-site or long-arm Practice Educators.


    Module information can be found on the Award Map.

    Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 23/24. The modules relating to the academic year 24/25 will be available from June 2024.

  • Please note: candidates must meet ALL of the following criteria to be considered:

    • A relevant undergraduate degree (ideally a 2:1 classification) or other recognised equivalent qualification. A Pass or 3rd will not be considered.
    • Applicants are advised to discuss the relevance of their Degree in their personal statement.
    • All applicants must have GCSE in Maths and English Language grade C/4, or a certified Level 2 equivalent, regardless of other qualifications.
    • You will need to have had experience of working with people who are experiencing challenges. This can be through volunteering or in paid employment. This experience should be over a period of at least six months and have totalled at least 500 hours.

    Students yet to graduate should ideally provide an academic reference (although a professional reference would be acceptable).

    Students who have already graduated should provide a professional reference.

    All offers of a place on our masters in social work are subject to:

    • satisfactory Occupational Health Screening (OH),
    • satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report (this does not mean an applicant must have a ‘clear’ DBS. However any DBS issues will need to be discussed prior to your interview (where possible) and full enrolment on to the programme)
    • an Overseas Police check for those who have resided outside of the UK at any time in the last five years prior to the course start date. (This is in addition to completing the UK DBS unless you have not lived in the UK during the last five years).  It is recommended that you try to obtain the police check prior to coming to the UK, if you are currently living outside of the UK and;
    • successful interview by the University.

    Please note, entry requirements must be maintained as the programme is endorsed by the Social Work England.

    English Language Requirements

    All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:

    • Minimum standard – academic IELTS 7.0 with no component less than 6.5.

    For more information on how to make an application, please visit our How to Apply page.

    If you are an international applicant and would like more information on applying for Social Work MA, please visit our How to Apply page.

  • 2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    January 2024 Intake
    • UK Year 1: £6,000 (The course is charged over 2 years)
    • UK Year 2: £6,000 (The course is charged over 2 years)
    • International: £17,000 (The fee covers both years of the course but must be paid in full during the first year)
    2022/23 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 2022/23 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    January 2023 Intake
    • UK Year 1: £4,050 (The course is charged over 2 years)
    • UK Year 2: £4,050 (The course is charged over 2 years)
    • International: £15,000 (The fee covers both years of the course but must be paid in full during the first year)
    Social Work Bursary

    There are limited numbers of postgraduate Social Work bursaries awarded by the NHS Business Service Authority for those enrolled on our MA Social Work programme. Postgraduate students studying for a masters in social work can apply for a bursary to help you with your living costs. If you’re eligible for a bursary, you’ll get a contribution towards your tuition fees. To be eligible for the Social Work Bursary, you must satisfy the residency conditions. For more information and to apply, please visit the NHS website.

    Please note that if you are successfully awarded the Postgraduate Social Work bursary, you will not able to apply for the student finance.

    Placement Travel Allowance (PTA)

    If you aren’t allocated a bursary, but meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll receive a PTA of £862.50 towards your travel expenses at the beginning of your academic year.

    If you’re allocated a bursary, your PTA will be included as part of your bursary so you won’t receive any further help for travel.

    Additional costs
    • Travel costs to and from placements, and extra costs associated with placements, may be incurred throughout your studies depending on where you are based.
    • The extra costs incurred by placement should be covered by the postgraduate Social Work bursary, or in the event of not receiving a bursary, the above PTA is a standalone contribution.
    • Living away from home may incur additional accommodation costs.
    Additional Information

    Placement learning opportunities can be outside of Northampton to cover diverse placement opportunities to meet your learning and practice needs. You will need to be able to travel independently. Placements are located within a 65 mile radius of the University.

    For more information about possible funding options, please visit our Fees and Funding pages.

  • The programme was approved by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and by the current regulator Social Work England (SWE).

    Logo showing that this course is approved by the HCPC and is approved by Social Work England

    The Social Work masters programme enables graduates to register with Social Work England as Social Workers.

    By the end of the Social Work master degree you will have been assessed against the the Professional Capabilities Framework and Social Work England (SWE) Professional Standards will be able to apply to Social Work England for registration.


    The University of Northampton is central to the Northamptonshire Social Work Teaching Partnership. This Department of Education led initiative ensures that there is a close working relationship between the University of Northampton, as education providers of qualifying Social Work programmes (BA Hons Social Work and MA Social Work) and the statutory services of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust and Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, who provide services for a wide range of identified need in the county. This also means that as a University, we work closely with our partners to develop the Social Work curriculum to ensure it is current, innovative and reflective of practice, identify practice placement opportunities within statutory settings (Children, Mental Health, Adult Services) and prepare  graduates for employment.

    The Teaching Partnership will additionally progress partnership working between a range of programmes at The University of Northampton that offer training and education in  Health and Social Care, Youth Work and a range of statutory and non-statutory service providers.

  • Where can I find more information about social work and professional bodies?

    For more information about social work, professional bodies, adult and children services, community work and more, please see the useful websites:

    What will I be taught?

    The Social Work master degree prepares you for professional social work practice and enables you to develop your practice skills. You will develop your skills and knowledge in working with other professions. Social Work MA raises your political awareness and encourages you to be a creative, critical and reflective thinker.

    The Social Work subject team are committed to the International Federation of Social Work definition of social work and the curriculum is informed by it. Digitisation of Social Work features throughout all modules.

    The Social Work masters degree is designated as full-time and as such all modules, delivered sessions and placements are mandatory which also reflects the professional underpinning by the regulator Social Work England.

    How will I be assessed?

    Assessment is varied and can be in the form of essays, reports, presentations, practice assessment and there is a law exam.

    The Social Work MA is modular in design with all modules listed on the award map being mandatory and a pass grade is required on all items of assessment to ensure students can claim the full Social Work award. All assessments are marked and moderated by academic staff from the Social Work team in line with the module learning outcomes.

    The programme has an External Examiner who also oversees samples of student work on each module, providing feedback at a modular and programme level supporting the development of the student experience.

    The programme has an External Examiner who also oversees samples of student work on each module, providing feedback at a modular and programme level supporting the development of the student experience.


Careers and Employability

Employment prospects for graduates with a masters in social work are excellent and you will be able to pursue various social work careers across the country. Successful graduates will need to apply to Social Work England for registration. As Social Worker is a protected title, you need to have this registration before you can practice as a social worker. Only those graduating from a social work course can apply for this.

If you leave the course before completion, you may be able to be awarded an intermediate award, but you will not be able to register as a social worker.

Clearly this programme is designed specifically to prepare and train for the Social Work profession and it can be utilised to develop onward skills in specific/specialist roles that link to the core Social Work qualification.