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Social Work - MSc

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

We have over 50 years' experience in training people to become social workers in the super diverse city of Birmingham. If you already have a degree and want to become a professional social worker, successful completion of this course will enable you to work with children and adults in a range of social work settings to bring about positive change in their lives....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City South
  • Award MSc
  • Start date September 2024
  • School School of Education and Social Work
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

This course is:

Open to International Students


We have over 50 years' experience in training people to become social workers in the super diverse city of Birmingham. If you already have a degree and want to become a professional social worker, successful completion of this course will enable you to work with children and adults in a range of social work settings to bring about positive change in their lives. You’ll also be eligible go apply for registration with the regulator, Social Work England, to obtain the protected title of ‘Social Worker’.

Being a social worker requires commitment and tenacity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Social Work could be the career for you if you enjoy working with people, challenging discrimination and oppression, and promoting human rights and wellbeing. Social Workers work in diverse areas of practice, to enable both early and crisis intervention. These areas involve safeguarding, disability services, adoption and fostering, and adult social care to name but a few. You would work directly with people to support their needs and promote choice and independence. Social work is challenging and often emotional, but also a very rewarding career with a variety of routes and specialisms, as well as opportunities for progression, open to you once you qualify.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will experience a mixture of student-centred academic learning on campus and practice based learning in a service delivery setting within the community, reflecting the nature of social work as both an academic and practical discipline.

Academic learning will include a mix of face-to-face and online lectures, workshops and seminars, complemented by online resources and independent study. In addition to practitioners and academics from other relevant disciplines, your lecturers and tutors will include experienced social work academics, current practitioners, and service users and carers who are ‘experts by experience’. Together they will assist you to develop the knowledge, skills, values and professional capabilities you need for effective social work practice in the challenging world today. By bringing together these elements, you will learn to identify and navigate the complexities of social work to promote and protect wellbeing within a diverse community.

Approximately half the course involves direct practice experience through professional (practice based) placements. These are provided by our practice partners in both the first and second year of the course. On placement you will be supported by a team that includes a dedicated and qualified practice educator who will always be a registered social worker. Our practice partners include Local Authorities and the private, independent, and voluntary sector agencies.

Recent changes to our course plan mean that you will experience a range of assessment methods in addition to written assignments, such as role plays and presentations.

My experience on the course has been the most rewarding and challenging period of my life to date! While the course gives you all of the fundamental tools and knowledge for a career in social work, I’ve found that the tutors and my peers have given me so much more.

The course has taught me about myself, it has challenged my perceptions, and enhanced my understanding of politics and its impact on the services we provide to those in need. I have been encouraged to voice my opinions, concerns, uncertainties and fears in a safe space that has allowed me to grow and feel the value of sharing my experiences and feelings. I feel genuinely supported and valued.

Elizabeth Wanjiku

Why Choose Us?

  • An opportunity to study in the super-diverse and cosmopolitan city of Birmingham.
  • We have over 50 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, understanding and personal attributes that make you more likely to gain employment and be successful in your chosen social work pathway.


Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. Booking isn't open yet for this event, register your interest and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.

Next Event: 24 November 2024

Register interest

Entry Requirements

Essential 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 GCSEs 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.

You must upload a considered and substantive personal statement at the time of application. Applications not meeting this criteria will be rejected automatically.

Any offer of a place is subject to satisfactory performance at interview.

International Students

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

You must upload a copy of your degree certificate and transcript at the point of applications. Applicants who do not supply this at the point of application will be rejected automatically.

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MSc

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • TBC

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MSc

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • TBC

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.

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.

Admissions Process

The admissions process is designed to evaluate your potential to undertake social work education at Masters level and professional practice. Your application and personal statement are screened for eligibility against the entry requirements, in order to make a shortlisting decision.  If you're successfully shortlisted you'll be invited to an admissions day at the University. During the day you will be evaluated in a number of areas, including your written analytical skills and your interpersonal skills. Admissions days also involve individual interviews with academic staff and service user and carer representatives. The Admissions process is mapped against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) at entry level; you will have to meet these criteria in order to be offered a place on the programme. 

NHS Social Work Bursary  

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Department for Education (DfE) allocate a fixed number of undergraduate and postgraduate social work bursaries to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) delivering qualifying social work programmes. As the number of students commencing social work programmes can exceed the number of bursaries available, there is no guarantee that all students will receive a bursary.  

To determine which students are on the ‘capping list’ and therefore, subject to their meeting the NHS Bursary criteria, entitled to a bursary, the University prioritises applicants based on a ranking during the admissions process. This ranking is based on the overall score achieved by applicants during an admissions event.

If you have accepted an offer of a place on the MSc Social Work course, we encourage you to make an application for a bursary, as even if you are not on the ‘capping list’, you may still be entitled to the Placement Travel Allowance. Please be aware that the availability of NHS bursaries is reviewed regularly by the Department for Education and Department of Health and Social Care.

Further information about bursaries 

Student Finance England - Postgraduate Loans

This may be an option for those who are not in receipt of the NHS Social Work Bursary i.e. those who do not have a 'capped place', subject to the eligibility criteria. The postgraduate loan is a contribution towards the programme fees and/or living costs, while you are studying a postgraduate Master’s course. Unlike NHS Bursaries, it has to be paid back. A postgraduate loan is for the whole Master’s course with half received in Year One and the remainder in Year Two. Please visit the Student Finance England website for details on Postgraduate Loans: You must confirm that you are not in receipt of an NHS Social Work Bursary in order to receive a Student Finance England Postgraduate Loan. Once you have enrolled on the course, the University can provide a letter confirming this.

Student Finance England

Personal statement

You’ll need to submit a personal statement as part of your application for this course. This will need to highlight your passion for postgraduate study – and your chosen course – as well as your personal skills and experience, academic success, and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Not sure what to include? We’re here to help – take a look at our top tips for writing personal statements and download our free postgraduate personal statement guide for further advice and examples from real students.

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 Social Work Practice, and Practice Placement One.

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 Practice Placement Two:

Download course specification

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Core Skills for Social Work Practice, Practice Placement One and Practice Placement Two 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 PgDip 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, and attend a resiliency retreat. There will be opportunities to engage in international events, including an exchange, research cluster events, 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 through 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 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.



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 you have contrasting placements.

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.

More about our placement opportunities


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 & 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 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...

More about Jessica

Dr Peter Simcock

Associate Professor of Social Work

Peter began working in social work education in 2010 and joined the Department of Social Work at BCU in January 2018. Prior to working in academia, Peter worked for Age Concern, Hull, before moving to the West Midlands and from 2001 to 2008 worked for Wolverhampton City Council in various social work roles including social worker within a...

More about Peter

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