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MSW Social Work

This course is for graduates who want to start a new career in social work, providing people with help, support and guidance when they need it and protecting vulnerable children, families and adults.

You split your study time between learning the latest knowledge and necessary skills at university, and then putting it into practice on professional work placements. You spend a total of 200 days working in professional settings and attending specialist skills days.

Course length 24 Months
Location Collegiate Campus

Course description

Prepare for a career in social work with a course that is well connected with social work and social care service providers in the region. As a result of these connections, you get the benefit of supervised practical work in a range of social work settings.

What you study
You study the theories, skills and values of social work, learning how to work with people who have problems in their lives or whose actions cause significant problems for others.

You will meet the Health and Care Professions Council's standards of proficiency for social work through learning and teaching which includes • assessment, planning, intervention and review • skill development • a dissertation • psychosocial knowledge • professional ethics • law and policy • social work theory and practice models..

We make sure your learning is up to date so you graduate with the latest thinking on current areas of importance in the sector. We invite experts which include service users and practitioners to come in and discuss topical issues such as child protection, adult safeguarding, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

Because social workers need to work with many other professionals, you study alongside students and staff from related disciplines. For example, you practise giving evidence in court with law students, and barristers and judges visit the university to cross-examine you in our courtroom.

Service users and carers are central to all aspects of the course delivery and development, including teaching, assessment and placements. The ways in which the course are assessed include essays, presentations, exams, a dissertation and practice placements.

Placements and work experience
Practical work experience is at the heart of this course. We have a 100% record of placing students in quality-audited placements. You spend 170 days putting what you’ve learned into practice in real working situations, such as • social work teams • family centres • primary care practices • hospitals • mental health settings • women's refuges and a range of family support services for vulnerable people.

These placements take place with our partners in local authority, private and voluntary agencies across South Yorkshire and the North East Midlands. Previous students have worked in statutory local authority social work teams, NHS mental health units, youth offending teams working with the police, and charities including the NSPCC, Age UK, Barnados, Mind and Women's Aid.

Your placements are supported by 30 specialist skills days. You work with experts, professionals and service users on specific topics such as how to assess risky behaviour, or interventions for safeguarding children. In your final year, we run a workshop with employers on how to apply for jobs in social work.

There are also opportunities to spend time studying abroad. Previous students have attended a summer school in Berlin, gaining new, international perspectives on social work and discovering how it is practised around the world.

During the time you spend at university, you are based at our Collegiate Crescent Campus which includes our £13 million purpose-built Robert Winston Building, a newly built Heart of the Campus complex and a learning centre which is open 24 hours and seven days a week. You use specialist facilities including our courtroom, where you learn how to give evidence, and our virtual reality training environment which is used to practise different cases.

We are one of the most experienced providers of social work, education in the country, and we have a wide range of expertise. Social work is part of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, which enables us to apply specialist knowledge and resources from across a range of health and social care professions.

All our teaching staff are qualified and experienced social workers, or have experience in related professions. You experience a range of different ways of learning, including role play with actors, real-life case studies and virtual reality experiences alongside lectures and seminars,

Many of our lecturers are involved in research in social work and have a well-established reputation in various international projects, including
• international practice learning opportunities for students
• EU-funded projects to develop an international curriculum
• projects developing social work practice and social work education.

Professional recognition

This course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). After successfully completing the course you are eligible to apply to register with them to practise as a social worker.

We are in a transitional period where the work of the College of Social Work has come to an end and some functions are temporarily hosted by the British Association of Social Work.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Normally five GCSEs at grade C or above, including mathematics, English language or literature or equivalent*, plus

• an honours degree recognised in the UK at 2.2 or above in any subject, together with relevant personal or professional experience of social care

You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

GCSE English and maths equivalents are

equivalency test from www.equivalencytesting.co.uk

International and European Union entry qualifications

If you are an international or EU student, please visit our international qualifications web page to see the country specific academic qualifications we accept.


If English is not your first language you will need an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in all skills, or a recognised equivalent. If your level of English language is currently below IELTS 7.0 we recommend you consider an appropriate Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve the required level of English. Please note that the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) require IELTS 7.0 with no element below 6.5 for registration.

Care experience

Before you apply for health courses, we require you to have gained some practical experience relating to your subject area. Download our applicant experience guidelines for information about the kinds of experience we expect you to have and the best places to gain it. Evidence of the experience gained, understanding of the profession and a genuine, reasoned commitment to studying a professional course must be explicit in your personal statement to be selected for interview.


You can find out more about how to apply to university, and your personal statement here. For social work courses your personal statement should

• Demonstrate some understanding of what social work is and that you are aware of the complex demanding nature of it. Include in your statement evidence of social work values and the legal and safeguarding aspects of social work practice.

• Evidence that you have done some reading and thinking about social work.Try to provide evidence that you are aware of current research and policy initiatives relating to social work. If possible provide examples of how these relate to your own experiences.

• Reflect upon relevant work experiences, drawing out your own skills and knowledge and what you have learned about the experiences that service users have. Try not to list the types of work you have undertaken.This is your opportunity to relate your own experiences to social work practice and values. Download our applicant experience guidelines for more details.

• In preparing your application you should review the Professional Capabilities Framework for social work, which contains information about the expectations for anyone wishing to pursue a career in social work.

You apply directly to UCAS for this course using the UCAS code L508.

For more details on how to apply, download our guide (.DOCX, 16KB)

The selection event

If you are shortlisted, we will invite you to a selection event, and you should bring a passport or photo driving license with you. You can bring other forms of photo ID for the selection event, but if you do, you will still need to present valid identity documents required by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) at your pre-course day.

View our selection event guidance to ensure you understand the selection process.

Course enrolment – professional requirements

Before enrolling, you must fully declare during the admissions process any

• unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings. For further information on convictions that must be declared see the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) website.

• disciplinary proceedings during paid or voluntary employment or educational establishments

• involvement with safeguarding proceedings, social services or related organisations

You also need to complete

• a DBS Enhanced Disclosure, and provide us with a copy of your DBS Enhanced Disclosure Certificate if requested. Enrolment also depends on the DBS check being deemed suitable for professional training.

• occupational health screening to determine your suitability to undertake the course and an approved programme of immunisation, as recommended by the Department of Health. Health screening and immunisation are provided by the University.

• a pre-course day

If you have a criminal record, it does not necessarily prevent you from taking this course. All applicants must be clear of any convictions or statutory supervision linked to a sentence of the court for two years by August 31 on the year of enrolment. Download our procedure for applicants with criminal convictions for more information.

If you are an overseas student, you must have been granted permanent leave to remain in the UK. If you have spent time abroad, you must provide a certificate of conduct, which must cover the years not spent in the UK. This is necessary when you apply for the enhanced disclosure required to work in the health and social care sector.

Students on this course are not normally tested for immunity and infection. However, some high risk placements may require you to complete immunisation as specified by the placement provider.

If you fail to comply with any of these requirements your offer could be withdrawn.

If your personal circumstances change in relation to any of the professional requirements – from when you apply to the end of your course – you must tell the Professional Issues Team immediately by calling 0114 225 5637.

Accredited prior learning

Previous study or work experience can sometimes count towards your qualification. Successfully completing all or part of a higher education course may allow you on to the second or third year of a course. A smaller amount of credit, at higher education level, may count towards your qualification. We call this accreditation of prior credited learning.

We may also consider relevant work experience, provided it is at an appropriate level for your course. This is called accreditation of prior experiential learning.

Disability support

We strongly recommend that you tell us about any long term health conditions, learning difficulty or disability you may have. This is so we can assess whether we can deliver the course in such a way that you can meet the HCPC standards of proficiency and take part without disadvantage both in University and on placement.

The Disability Disclosure booklet provides information for students on health and social care courses and will help you understand the importance of disclosing your disability at the earliest possible stage. This is so you can be assessed for the support you may require to succeed on the course. You can contact our disability co-ordinator for social work and social care on 0114 225 5769 to discuss any queries you may have or you can contact our university disabled student support team on 0114 225 3964 (voice and Minicom).

Open day

As social work can involve psychologically and emotionally taxing work, we recommend that you come along to a University open day to learn more about the general expectations of the course.

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full-time – March start – typically 24 months

This is a full time course that can lead to professional registration as a social worker and therefore requires extensive study.

Taught modules take place on average three days a week. but you will be required to engage in study outside of these times. A large proportion of the course is spent on placement within social care organisations – during these times you are required to attend for five days a week.

Typical modules may include

Course design

Social work programmes provide a combination of practice learning and academic modules, that build together in order to equip you with the range of knowledge and skills you need in order to meet the requirements of this challenging profession. The strategies of teaching, learning and assessment across the 24 months are progressive, so that you gradually develop the abilities to be a self-directed learner. At the beginning of each year there will be an induction period to help you orient yourself to the shape of your studies for that year, and the increasing levels of academic and professional standards expected of you.

Additionally, some of the academic modules contain skills days, which further reinforce that there are strong links between the intellectual abilities you need in order to be a social worker, and the practice skills that are also needed. The programme structure comprises five interrelated elements
• pre-enrolment and induction
• the inter professional learning module
• core professional modules
• mandatory practice education modules
• independent learning

Year one

The programme commences with a short induction period, to provide orientation to Sheffield Hallam systems and processes, and to facilitate a transition back into study for mature students from a diverse range of backgrounds. The first suite of modules introduces students to the professional identity of social work, providing the foundation for subsequent teaching on the legal, policy and knowledge frameworks that underpin the social work profession Included in these modules are 12 skills days that address core communication skills for relationship building and interviewing, key social work practice skills, and fundamental professional skills such as self-management and organisational skills.

Introduction to social work
You gain an overview of professional social work, looking at practice settings, policy and values. This is an interprofessional module, taught with other health and social care postgraduate professional students. . You examine the professional codes of practice, professional ethics and the social work role in multi-disciplinary settings.

Law and policy for social work
You evaluate the political, organisational and legislative frameworks that support interprofessional social work. You also examine the impact of these on service users and carers. Topics include models of risk professional judgement and decision making, rights and responsibilities, communicating with children.

Psycho-social theories and methods for social work practice
You study the social science theories behind social work. You learn about social work intervention methods in ethical, service user centred practice. You explore sociological psychological and social policy perspectives alongside theories of power (anti-oppressive practice). You then evaluate how appropriate it is to apply these theories to different practice environments.

The next suite of year one modules develop students’ knowledge and understanding of more complex aspects of social work, including responsibilities for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, methods of intervention, and concepts of anti-oppressive practice, working with diversity and social justice.

Readiness for social work practice
The course is designed around the current regulatory framework for the profession which requires an assessment at the levels of: Readiness for practice in year one: at the end of first placement, and qualifying level at the end of year two. Your progression through the programme is dependent on the successful completion of each required assessment. Foundations of values, ethics and anti-oppressive practice for social work

You gain an overview of values and ethics, as they relate to the perspectives of service users and carers, which are fundamental to the programme, and embedded throughout.

Research knowledge, methods and skills for social work
As a qualified social worker, you need to understand and contribute to the research base of the profession. Topics include ethics and research governance writing up research presenting and distributing the results. You study research methods and develop a possible research topic to prepare for your dissertation.

Practice learning 1 and 2
You produce a portfolio that provides evidence of your practice experience. You complete 170 days on placement to meet the professional requirements for practice learning and the HCPC code of practice for students. You are assessed by a qualified practice educator when you are out on placement.

Social work skills development days

Year two

The second year of the programme commences in January, with a further brief induction period, to re-orientate students to the academic modules and the shape of the remainder of the programme. At this point students have teaching around the dissertation project; this approach is intended to facilitate students’ engagement with the dissertation to promote successful completion prior to commencement of placement two. The suite of modules in year two is designed to provide a bridge between the end of placement one and the social work qualifying level.

Theories and knowledge for social work, applied across the life course is an example of a module that requires students to engage with increasingly complex, higher-order intellectual and practice concepts, such as: risk identification and reduction, professional judgement and decision making, and systemic approaches to working with families and groups.

The organisational context of social work addresses themes such as responding to the ever-changing inter-professional context of service delivery, and anti-oppressive and empowering practice with vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and individuals.

The enhanced social work practitioner
You focus on your career by developing your leadership skills. You identify creative solutions to the challenges within social work practice, focussing on the service user group or a community of service users. You develop strategies for applying evidence-based practice, seeking the expert opinion of the service user, professional colleagues, employers and academics etc. The assessment is a presentation on a service improvement project.


Your dissertation is an independent piece of research work based on a topic of your choice. It can involve original research, a review of an appropriate body of research or an original critique of theory using a case study. It is between 12,000 and 15,000 words.

After successfully completing all the modules, including the dissertation, you gain the masters in social work. If you do not complete the dissertation we award a post graduate diploma in social work. If you only complete the dissertation and not the placements, then we award you with a masters in social care.

Assessment Includes
  • essays
  • examinations
  • practice-learning portfolios
  • group and individual presentations
  • report writing.
You put together a number of portfolios as evidence of your personal and professional development. You can use them to demonstrate your specialist ability when you go on to post-qualifying study. We involve service users and carers in teaching and assessment, including service user-led workshops.


You will be able to take advantage of a high demand for qualified social workers in the South Yorkshire and East Midlands regions and nationally in areas such as • social services departments • education and other local authority departments • residential care • housing associations • national and local voluntary organisations • private sector care providers.

You can work in careers alongside other professionals including • nurses • police officers • lawyers • teachers • occupational therapists • doctors • housing officers • a range of care and support staff.

You work with a range of people who require professional support such as • children and young people • parents and carers • people with mental health problems, learning difficulties or physical disabilities • older adults • refugees and asylum seekers.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2017/18 academic year

Full-time – typically £7,820 a year

Please visit our health and social care funding pages for more information.

International student

We do not charge course fees during a placement year.

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,800 per year

2017/18 academic year

Typically £13,250 per year

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

You apply directly to UCAS using the UCAS code L508. You will need to apply through the undegraduate route for this course.

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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