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Social Work - MSc

We have over 45 years' experience in training people to become social workers in the super-diverse and cosmopolitan city of Birmingham....

Studying with us in 2021/22

It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.

Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City South
  • School School of Education and Social Work
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

Course is Full for 2021/22 Entry

This course is now full. You will be able to apply to start in September 2022 from Autumn 2021.


We have over 45 years' experience in training people to become social workers in the super-diverse and cosmopolitan city of Birmingham. If you already have a degree and want to become a professional social worker, successful completion of this generic course will enable you work with children and adults in a variety of areas and to apply for registration with the regulator, Social Work England, to obtain the protected title of social worker.

Once you are registered, you will be immediately ready and able to engage in social work with any vulnerable citizen group in any setting. This includes working with children and families, adults, disabled people, older people and/or people with mental health problems in the local authority, health, or private, independent or voluntary sectors. 

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will experience student-centred academic learning on campus and practice-based learning in a service delivery setting, in the community.

Academic learning will include a carefully blended mix of face to face lectures, workshops and seminars, complemented by online resources. In addition to practitioners and academics from other relevant disciplines, teachers include experienced social work academics, practitioners, who are currently in practice and service users and carers who are experts by experience. They will assist you to obtain the knowledge, skills, values and professional capabilities you need for successful social work practice in today’s world. This includes legal, theoretical and research knowledge, the core skills of reflection, assessment, communication, resilience, report writing and leadership, and the values of being empowering, person-centred, strengths-based, results and outcomes focused. 

Half of the programme involves gaining invaluable direct practice experience through placements, provided by our practice partners and overseen by our dedicated practice tutors. You will experience two placements one in year 1 and the second in year 2. Whilst on placement you will be supported by a qualified practice educator who will always be a registered social worker.

Our practice partners include Local Authorities and established private, independent and voluntary sector agencies. There are a number of innovative projects that allow you to experience social work in the growing area of educational settings.

Our experienced academic staff have worked in a variety of social work teams and settings including child and adult safeguarding, foster-care, physical and learning difficulties, sensory impairment, and mental health and hospital social work.

You will be taught at our modern City South Campus and have access to Mary Seacole library, personal development department, careers support, disability services, accommodation services, financial advice, student counselling services, students union, study spaces, laptops, skills rooms, and a variety of shops and cafes. 

Accredited By

This course is accredited by:

  • Social Work England Logo

This course is an exciting and welcome addition to our existing suite of highly regarded pre and post qualifying Social Work programmes.
David Childs, Head of Department

Why Choose Us?

  • An opportunity to study in the super-diverse and cosmopolitan city of Birmingham.
  • We have over 45 years of experience in working with social work students, social workers and delivering social work education. This includes a deep commitment to pursuing excellence, and advancing human rights, social justice, equality and anti-discriminatory practice.
  • You will have access to a named personal tutor who can offer academic and pastoral support throughout the programme.
  • We offer a student-centered environment, and remain sensitive to your differing circumstances, aspirations, abilities, background and areas of special interest.
  • You will experience high quality practice placements, inter-professional learning and opportunities to engage in international exchange.
  • We are employability driven. You will have opportunities to practice at mock employment interviews and have attended a number of workshops with employers who are looking to recruit social workers. This means you will have the skills, understandings and personal attributes that make you more likely to gain employment and be successful in your chosen social work pathway
  • Study in our £41 million City South Campus, with access to state-of-the-art facilities and learning environments
  • Experienced and dedicated staff team will support you throughout the course, and you will have access to a personal tutor. If you've been away from education for a while, we also have a range of excellent resources to help you with study skills such as essay writing and research
  • This course is regulated by Social Work England (SWE)

Entry Requirements

UK and International Students

You should have completed a degree with a minimum of 2.2 or higher in any discipline. You will also need GCSE's in English and Mathematics, Grade 4 (previously a C) or equivalent, such as Functional Skills Level 2.

You should have 3 months or more practice based experience involving working with people. Working in a care, support, or people development capacity is preferred but not essential. Applications will be considered on an individual basis.

You will need two positive references, one from a recent Higher Education Institution (Not Further Education) and one from a recent employer. If you do not have an employer reference, a character reference will be required.

You will need DBS and Occupational Health Clearance.

Applicants need to confirm prior to interview decision/offer that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities.

International Students

Successful applicants must meet the International English Language Test (IELTS) at Level 7, no element must be below 6.5.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MSc

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £6,600 per year
  • Applications Closed

Award: MSc

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £13,200 per year
  • Applications Closed

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key Software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

DBS check

You will require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for this course. Your first DBS check is included in your fees.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

For practice learning opportunities, you will be expected to adhere to the BCU HELS Faculty Dress Code and/or the dress code for the relevant placement provider(s). This may involve the purchase of new items of clothing and/or shoes.

Placement expenses (mandatory)

There may be some costs for travel or temporary accommodation associated with placements. The NHS Learning Support Fund can help with these costs. Information about what the fund covers and eligibility criteria can be found online:

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

For September 2021 entry we are operating a ‘gathered field’ approach to applications. This is often used where the number of applications far exceeds the number of places available to make the admissions process more manageable – and to ensure places are offered to applicants on merit.

Applications are currently closed, and we are interviewing candidates.

    • We will begin notifying you of the outcome of interviews (i.e. whether or not you’re being offered a place) from 19 April 2021
    • You should be informed of the outcome of your interview no later than 7 May 2021

Applications for 2022 entry will open later in the year.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Course in Depth

Year One

Level 7:

The MSc Social Work course is run over two years.

In order to progress from Year 1 to Year 2, students must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 80 credits) and the two professional practice modules Core Skills for Practice, and First Placement.

In line with the philosophy and aims of the Social Work programme, and central to the delivery of high quality social work is the ability to understand and develop competence in using and applying a range of professional skills in direct practice with service users, carers and other professionals.

This module is a ‘professional requirement’ and must be passed before you are considered ready and eligible to safely undertake your First Placement working directly with vulnerable people. Service users, carers and qualified practitioners work alongside academic tutors as part of an interactive and practical approach to delivery and assessment.

Numerous court cases have emphasised the need for a sound knowledge of, and ability to critically reflect on, the relationship between social work practice and the law, and there have been calls for increased legal literacy amongst social workers. Legal and policy knowledge is inherent in the domains of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), most notably domain four (Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing) and domain five (Knowledge). Social workers are required to work within the legal and ethical boundaries of their profession and to demonstrate an understanding of legislation relating to social work practice across various settings.

Central to the delivery of high quality professional social work will be your ability to understand the link between identity, inequality and injustice and to critically apply core values, ethics and anti-discriminatory principles and approaches during practice.

This module supports the programme aims of pursuing excellence, being practice-led, employable and having a local, national and global outlook.

In order to prepare you for the complex and constantly evolving nature of modern social work practice this module enables you to develop knowledge and understanding of theory and methods of intervention. This module supports the programme aims of pursuing excellence, being practice-led, employable and having a local, national and global outlook.

This module specifically addresses the broader programme aims related to “pursuing excellence” and “practice-led, knowledge applied” through a flexible provision that encourages students to develop their research ideas, enabling those on various Health MSc programmes to satisfy their individual learning needs, whilst contributing to their area of study.

In line with the philosophy and aims of the Social Work programme, the First Placement module will focus upon practice learning. Social work is a practice led profession and this is reflected in practice learning being integral to the social work programme. The First Placement module will support you to link your developing knowledge, skills and values to practice through the provision of a 70 day practice placement that will provide opportunities for you to work directly with service users, carers, colleagues and other professionals. This module also contributes to the programme philosophy and aims by enhancing your interdisciplinary, for example by developing your ability to work with and learn from other professionals; and employability, for example by giving you opportunities to develop your professionalism and practice excellence in a service delivery setting, and be work ready.

Year Two

In order to complete this course, a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits) during the second year, and the professional practice module Last Placement:

The module contributes to the overall programme philosophy of producing critically reflective and knowledgeable social work graduates, who are prepared for the reality of contemporary modern social work practice. The module has been designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge of safeguarding practices and legal insight needed to become effective social work practitioners in the complex world of modern social work practice to safeguard and protect vulnerable service users as specified by the Standards of Proficiency, Professional Capability Framework, and Key Indicator Statements. It contributes to the programme aims of pursuing excellence in safeguarding practice, applying legal knowledge to practice, developing your ability to understand the roles of and work in partnership with other agencies and professionals, enhancing your employability and ensuring that your global outlook includes being aware of and learning from international research.

This triple module forms the final bridge between the award of a Postgraduate Diploma and a Health MSc related to a named award. It provides the student with the opportunity to complete a piece of work around a chosen topic in order to demonstrate competence in the planning, execution, analysis and evaluation of a Research Project, a Systematic Review or Project Management. The focus is on facilitating the student's independent, critical study in their academic discipline or area of professional practice. It will also serve those who wish to embark on Doctoral studies in the future.

This module contributes to the programme philosophy and aims by embracing diversity, values, emotional intelligence and continuing personal and professional development. Your goal in undertaking this module will be to further enhance one or more of the following capabilities that can transform your current professional practice, the organisation and community you work in and the lives of the citizens you serve - leadership, innovation, resilience and/or taking a strengths/asset based approach. It will provide you with opportunities to pursue excellence, be practice-led, apply current and developing knowledge, learn with and from other disciplines, develop your local, national and global outlooks and further enhance your employability and professional practice.

In line with the philosophy and aims of the Social Work programme the Last Placement module will focus upon practice learning. This practice-led, knowledge applied module contributes to the programme philosophy and aims by further enhancing your interdisciplinarity for example, your ability to work with and learn from other professionals; and employability for example, giving you opportunities to develop your professionalism and practice excellence in a service delivery setting, and be work ready. The Last Placement module is a professional requirement that builds on the level 5 First Placement module.

Core Skills for Practice, First Placement and Last Placement are professionally required modules that have 0 credit value. These modules must be successfully completed in order to achieve either the MSc Social Work or the PG Dip Social Work awards, leading to eligibility to apply to register with the regulator.

Course structure

Year 1

Year 1 will begin with an invaluable induction week that provides opportunities for you to meet other students in your cohort and the teaching team, and to become familiar with your campus and essential information about your course, especially support services.

Essential information will include your teaching timetable, course guide, assessment schedule and assessment regulations. Information will be provided on what to do should you become ill or have personal difficulties.

Teaching in year 1 will focus on the foundations of law and policy, values, ethics and anti-discriminatory practice, core skills, theories for social work practice and understanding how to research.

You will develop a deep understanding of emotional intelligence, social justice and anti-discriminatory practice, practice the skills of communication and assessment with vulnerable people, shadow a qualified social worker and attend a well-being retreat. There will be opportunities to engage in international exchange and to gain invaluable practice experience during your first 70 day practice placement.

Year 2

Teaching in year 2 will focus on safeguarding law and policy, effective inter-professional practice, and further enhancing professional capabilities that will assist you to make a real difference in society e.g. leadership, resilience, innovation and/or strengths-based approaches to professional practice.

You will build on the introduction to research in year 1 by working on your chosen dissertation topic. You will be supported by a supervisor during your dissertation.  

You will gain further invaluable practice experience during your second practice placement of 100 working days. This placement will involve statutory tasks involving legal interventions. During your journey through practice you will be supported by a qualified practice educator.

By the end of year 2 you will be highly professional and work ready, and a creative enterprising problem solver. You will have opportunities to practice at mock employment interviews and have attended a number of workshops with employers who are looking to recruit social workers. 

Social Work England Logo
Social Work England

This course is approved by Social Work England. 



By the end of the course you will have the knowledge, attitudes and skills that employers need and want.   You will also have the skills that will ensure your future and ongoing success as a social work practitioner.

The skills that enhance your employability are developed through our teaching and learning strategy which has a significant focus on embedding core skills whilst at University and developing these further during your practice placements. 


There are two major practice-based placements that ensure, by the end of your course, you are work-ready, employable and prepared for social work practice.

Your First Placement in Year 1 will be for 70 full working days and your Last Placement in Year 2 will be for 100 days. In order to ensure you have a ‘generic’ qualification i.e. you will have gained the experience to apply for and work effectively with either adults or children once you qualify (or during your career), we ensure that, if you are placed in a setting working with adults in your first placement, you will be placed in a setting working with children in your last placement or vice versa.

During each placement you will be given learning opportunities and support from a qualified practice educator to help you to meet the social work professional capabilities framework at first or last placement levels.

In your last placement you will be enabled to take on more complex work, work more independently, exercise more initiative, demonstrate higher levels of judgement and leadership, and collaborate on more equal terms with other professionals.

We will take into account your preferred area of future practice and do our best to ensure that your last placement is within a setting or has learning opportunities that helps with your future career aspirations.

More about our placement opportunities


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities and Staff


We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses cutting-edge learning facilities.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.

Home Environment Room

The Home Environment room is the perfect setting for teaching communications skills and allows us to simulate a community setting for our students. It is particularly useful for paramedics, mental health and learning disability nurses and also midwives.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.

Our staff

Jessica Wagner

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

After qualifying from the University of Wales in 2003, Jessica has spent the majority of her professional experience within statutory children’s services, where she held posts both as a practitioner and manager in safeguarding teams. This allowed her to gain experience of working in child protection and child in need services and through the processes of care proceedings.

More about Jessica

Albert Moylan

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Born in the Republic of Ireland, Albert obtained a degree in Commerce and initially started out on a career in business. He discovered that his interest in people, social problems, inequality, deprivation and disadvantage far outweighed his interest in commerce.

After moving to the UK in 1986 and settling in Birmingham, Albert qualified as a social worker and practised generically within Birmingham City Council with all adult client groups. He qualified as a Social Work Practice Teacher in 2005, and started to work closely with a number of local universities. After a period as a practice learning coordinator and off-site practice educator with Birmingham City Council Learning and Development, he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Social Work with Birmingham City University in 2007. In addition to teaching, Albert took on the role of Subject Quality Coordinator, and was Programme Director for the BSc (Hons) Social work Degree from 2014 to 2016.

Albert is a member of the Teaching Teams for the BSc (Hons) Social Work Degree, Social Work Practice Educator Training Programme, Approved Mental Health Professional Programme, Faculty MSc in Safeguarding, and the MSc in Social Work Programme. He has a special interest in identity, equality and social justice, the value of internationalization and having a global outlook, and enhancing the quality of social work education and social work practice.

He is currently Module leader for Equality, Diversity and Anti-discriminatory Practice in the BSc (Hons) Undergraduate Social Work Degree and is Deputy Programme Leader for the Social Work Practice Educator Training Programme and the MSc in Social Work.

More about Albert

Gero Kaur

Senior Lecturer

Gero qualified as a Social Worker in 2000. Upon qualifying as a Social Worker Gero worked within a Local Authority generic adult team. She started supervising social work students on placement when she became a Senior Practitioner in 2002. 

More about Gero