Student story: Social Work with Emma-Leigh Quinn


We caught up with MSW Social Work student Emma-Leigh Quinn as she reflects on her experience of the course so far.

"I truly believe in a magic moment, one simple conversation can change someone's life forever. For me, my magic moment was when my social worker believed in me and encouraged me. This was a major driving factor in me wanting to be involved in social work."

What was your background before studying this course?MSW Social Work Student Emma-Leigh Quinn

I have had quite a diverse upbringing and personal experiences with social services and the care system.

These experiences inbuilt a drive and determination in me to help people empower themselves to make their lives better. It was for this reason I went to study psychology for my undergraduate degree, as I wanted to know more about the brain and how people make the choices they do.

Once I graduated, I chose to go into residential childcare. I spent a year working in a children’s unit in Fife. It was while doing this job that I was able to reflect on my upbringing and perhaps how sometimes I had more in common with the young people than the people who worked there.

I truly believe in a magic moment, one simple conversation can change someone's life forever. For me, my magic moment was when my social worker believed in me and encouraged me. This was a major driving factor in me wanting to be involved in social work.

Why did you choose to study here at Edinburgh Napier?

This was the first year Edinburgh Napier ran the social work course, and I was really intrigued and had heard so many current social workers talking about it. They mentioned how high calibre the teaching staff were, and this made me want to study the course even more.

I was also really drawn to Edinburgh Napier because they have a very dynamic application to teaching. It was for this reason I thought it would be ideal to learn the theoretical side of social Work but also the practical side to the job, and feel well supported in doing so.

Are there any highlights about studying at Edinburgh Napier University you would like to share?

I really love the fact that the course is multidisciplinary. Some of our classes include physiotherapists and occupational therapists. This multidisciplinary approach to working is really unique.

I also like how small our cohort is, the lecturers have great patience to answer our questions and teach us in ways we understand.

The placement opportunities at Edinburgh Napier are all so diverse. My placement is in Scottish Adoption and I am really excited to experience this area.

We have also had numerous agency visits, either within university or we go to visit them. This brings our studying to life. It's great reading about things, but we are also given ample opportunities to experience our learning in real life application.

I passed all assessments – this has to be a major highlight! More seriously though, I feel the course is pioneering the way forward to break down the barriers that face allied health professionals and social workers. I feel very well equipped to enter the working environment and work confidently with other health professionals as well as having a sound understanding of their role.

The Sighthill campus also has good macaroni and cheese for lunch!

Any challenges so far?MSW Social Work Student Emma Quinn image

Personally, I was out of studying for nearly two years and going back to study at Master’s level was a bit difficult. However, as there is only a small cohort this year, my fellow students have been very supportive and made this transition so much better.

The University has a great learning skills team, and you can book an appointment when it suits you to discuss things like referencing. It’s really useful to brush up on these skills, especially if you’ve had a break from education.

I am dyslexic, and I was concerned that studying at Master’s level would be too difficult. However, before I even started on the course I got an email from inclusion support and had a meeting set up within the first few weeks of starting. Edinburgh Napier University has a great system of software available for people who are dyslexic, such as jargon busters, Grammarly, and software that reads your papers to you.  I have found these to be super helpful and a great resource to have. 

I also got my learning profile set up on the same day, so now all my lecturers are aware of my learning needs without having to single me out. What I perceived to be a major challenge has been the easiest part of the course.

Have you taken part in any of the extra-curricular activities/societies we have to offer?

One of the first things I did was join the Edinburgh Napier University Snow sports Club (NUSC). This is a great club, it’s very inclusive and open to all and has regular social events.

In January I competed for NUSC at Granite City Invitational. This was a great experience, and I felt like I had always been at Edinburgh Napier. I even bagged second place in the snowboard race, which is pretty awesome!

Would you recommend the course? Emma-Leigh Quinn Student Picture

Yes, more than definitely. 

This course offers something unique in that it is multidisciplinary. This is not something I have seen other universities offer, therefore the experience you gain from doing this course is truly unique.

Edinburgh Napier University is also extremely diverse, and practical in nature.

What advice would you give to anyone considering this course?

Plan, plan, and do even more planning. I would encourage everyone to get finances and their employment sorted out before they start to allow for the first few weeks at university to be about getting to know the course, and your fellow students and of course finding out about the societies on offer.

What’s next?

Once graduated, I hope to go into working with young people either in the form of secure care or children and families. If, as a social worker I can empower one person to change their lives for the positive I will be happy with that.