Social Work MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This is an approved two-year postgraduate qualification that leads towards professional registration as a social worker.

To register as a social worker, you will need a qualification that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This Masters has been approved by the HCPC and endorsed by the College of Social Work so you can be sure that successful completion of the course will mean that you meet professional standards of proficiency.

Our course combines both practice and theory. We organise two main placements for you, the first of 70 days and the second of 100 days. There is in-depth preparation before the placements and you will be assigned a practice educator on placement who will provide on-going supervision as you work with people with a range of needs including those who are experiencing crisis or social exclusion.

We have excellent partnership with employers across public/voluntary and private sectors to provide high quality placements – as endorsed by The College of Social Work.

Theory-based taught modules include ‘The Social Work Context’, ‘Theories and Models for Social Work Practice’ and ‘Critical Perspectives in Social Work Practice’. The Masters dissertation is an excellent opportunity to explore a specific issue in social work.

The University of Sunderland has been offering professional qualifications in social work since 1997 and we have built up strong relationships with employers, service users and carers. These relationships are an essential foundation for our rigorous training in how to make a difference to people’s lives through professional social work.

Practitioners provide a wide range of teaching input and support in both years of the programme, which enables students to gain a good understanding of how theory relates to practice.

Upon successful completion of the programme you will be eligible to apply to register with the HCPC as a newly qualified social worker. 

This course is available on a full-time (2 years) and part-time (4 years) basis.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

The Social Work Context

You will explore legal frameworks and policy contexts for social work with adults, children, young people and families.

Theories and Models for Social Work Practice

You will critically examine relevant theories, including social and psychological theories, and explore models of intervention.

Preparing for Practice

This module focuses on developing practice skills, the role and value base of social work and exploring service user and carer perspectives.

Practice Placement 1

70 day practice placement, to be arranged by our Practice Learning Coordinator.

Critical Perspectives in Social Work Practice

With a high level of critical reflection, you will examine some of the contemporary issues in society, human rights and social justice and consider how these relate to the role of social work. You will also explore new developments in the integration of theory, policy and practice across a broad range of social work areas.

Social Work Research and Dissertation

Through researching and writing up a dissertation you will develop specialist knowledge around a specific issue relevant to social work and develop your understanding of research methodologies and methods.

Practice Placement 2

100 day practice placement, to be arranged by our Practice Learning Coordinator.

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars and workshops with a strong emphasis on individual participation and discussion.

During the first semester you will develop a Practice Skills Portfolio that helps you to reflect and make the best use of supervision.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

Assessment methods include assignments, written coursework, presentations and workbooks/portfolios.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Course location

The course is based at the Priestman Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. Thanks to a major renovation programme, the Priestman Building provides state-of-the-art teaching space and resources as part of a vibrant and outward-looking learning environment.

Some of your skills learning will take place in the communication skills labs which have full recording and playback facilities. We also have a ‘mock’ courtroom which offers the opportunity to develop skills in this setting.

University Library Services

We have thousands of books and e-books on social science topics, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your course include:

  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
  • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals
  • SocINDEX with full-text articles, which is probably the world's most comprehensive and highest-quality sociology research database
  • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
  • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in The David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s Library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


Priestman Building

City Campus, Green Terrace, Sunderland, SR1 3PZ

Entry requirements

Usually at least a 2:1 undergraduate honours degree. Applicants with a 2:2 may be considered if they also have a relevant postgraduate qualification. We also require Mathematics and English Language Grade C or above or equivalent.  Applicants whose first language is not English may also be required to achieve a minimum IELTS score of 7 in all four areas.

You will also need relevant work experience (voluntary or paid) in a setting that is related to social care.  It is important that you describe your experience and reflect on this and how you feel it relates to a future career in social work.

Additional requirements

Please note that before we can confirm any offer of a place to you, we require:

  • Two satisfactory references
  • A satisfactory health declaration
  • A satisfactory DBS Enhanced disclosure
  • Compliance with the character suitability requirements of the Health and Care Professions Council
  • A satisfactory outcome of any declaration of involvement with Local Authority Adults or Children’s Services
  • A satisfactory outcome of any declaration of disciplinary

Applicants are required to complete a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check prior to the start of the course. The provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act do not apply to this course however the amendments to the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013) provide that certain spent convictions and cautions are 'protected' and are not subject to disclosure to employers and cannot be taken into account. Guidance and criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website:

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

It is important that you describe your experience and reflect on this and how you feel it relates to a future career in social work.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £3,154 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £7,696 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

The social work profession can be very emotionally rewarding since you will be in a position to make a difference to people’s lives, providing them with support and enabling them to lead the fullest lives possible.

The programme comes from a foundation of over 30 years established experience in social work education and training and has an excellent relationship with local employers.

Opportunities are available in the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors. During the course of your career it will be possible to move between sectors as well as to transfer from one specialism (such as working with children) to another (such as working with people with mental health issues). Promotion can lead to roles such as team leader, as well as very senior roles within the social services departments of local authorities.

Your Masters degree will also enhance opportunities in academic roles or further study towards a PhD.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751


Support for your development

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

While you are on placement you will be supported by a training team that consists of a practice educator (and link worker if your practice educator is based outside your placement organisation) and a tutor from the University of Sunderland or one of our partners of the programme.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore career opportunities and make effective applications.

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

Apply for this course

Applications to study a postgraduate qualification are submitted directly to the University. You can apply for our taught courses online, or download and complete an application form when open to applications.

The completion of the application form is a means of conveying information about yourself, your potential and your motivation. Full guidance on how to complete this form is included on the form itself. Alternatively, visit one of our open days and speak to our staff and current students, or drop-in to see us at The Gateway on the City Campus.

In addition to the Application Form, you must submit Supplementary Questions for your application to this programme to be considered.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader:
Alex Summer

Contact the Faculty of Education and Society for general questions about studying at the University of Sunderland:

The Recruitment Team
Tel: 0191 515 3845

Programme Starts  
Monday 18th September 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Social Work
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 2 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £See entry requirements page
Intl Fee £See entry requirements page

Entry requirements

See Fees and entry requirements tab

Related courses

If Social Work MA isn't right for you, try these courses instead:

Search for something different?