MSW Social Work

Postgraduate, Full-time

Social Work MSW

Gain the professional knowledge and skills you need to qualify and practise as a registered social worker with the ability for leadership


This course is designed for graduates who wish to qualify as a social worker within a two-year time frame.

The course is unique in that it has been developed alongside the MSc Physiotherapy and MSc Occupational Therapy programmes to prepare you to work effectively within the complex and rapidly evolving environment of health and social care. You will learn alongside pre-registration students in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy throughout your studies with us, and graduate together. The Simulation and Clinical Skills Centre provides the facilities to develop your skills in realistic settings including the home environment. Being both intellectually challenging and practical, this programme will prepare you for the real world of social work within the areas of Children and Families, Criminal Justice and Adult social work. You’ll enter the workplace as a confident, competent and autonomous social worker, equipped to lead the delivery of personalised and responsive services, which place individuals and families at the centre of their care and support.

Please note: The programme is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

The application deadline for the January 2022 intake is 31st May 2021.
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Mode of Study:



2 years

Start date:




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Course details

Year 1: Developing an understanding of the social work role

The first year of the course sets the foundations for understanding the social work role within the areas of Children and Families, Criminal Justice and Adult social work. You’ll explore the legal and ethical context of social work in these areas, establishing some of the key knowledge, skills and values you’ll require to involve people who have experienced adversity, abuse and other forms of social injustice in the assessment of their needs and in decision making around their support. This first year introduces you to Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy students as key partners in promoting health and wellbeing within an integrated health and social care context. The multi-professional student groups will learn and work together across the two years of the course so that you can develop confidence in your own role as well as developing a deeper understanding of the roles of others. The importance of research and evidence is highlighted throughout, and a full-time work placement at the end of the first year provides the opportunity to integrate theory with practice and to consolidate all of your learning throughout the year.

Year 2: Challenging the social work role and shaping the future

The second year of the course builds in complexity by addressing the process of risk assessment and decision making within the context of uncertain and partial information. You’ll develop your communication skills with particular service user groups in situations of conflict and risk, and you’ll consider the possibility that children and adults who are in need of our care and support may also present risks to others. You’ll be asked to take a global perspective in questioning the role of the social worker, and, along with your colleagues in occupational therapy and physiotherapy, to develop the entrepreneurial capacity and skills required to lead innovation in a changing health and social care environment. Your research experience will be enhanced, culminating in the production of a dissertation.  You’ll then undertake a final full-time work placement which will enable you to make the transition into the workplace as a competent, confident and autonomous practitioner.

Subjects include:

Year 1

  • Working Together in Health and Social Care Contexts
  • Negotiating the Legal and Ethical Landscape of Social Work
  • Working with Individuals, Families and Communities
  • Research Approaches in Health and Social Care
  • Social Work approaches to Assessing Compromised Health and Development

Year 2

  • Risk, Uncertainty and Complex Decision-Making
  • Working Creatively with the Complex Tensions between Intra-personal and Inter-personal Processes
  • Leading Innovation in Health and Social Care
  • Public Protection in a Complex and Changing Global Context
  • Masters Dissertation
  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    This is a full-time course delivered over two years. The teaching will involve practitioners and people who use services, alongside academic staff. The first two trimesters each year focus on theory, knowledge and skills development, and in the third trimester each year you’ll undertake a work placement in order to consolidate your learning and to integrate the theory with practice. You’ll otherwise learn by a variety of teaching methods including scenario-based learning, tutorials, seminars, simulation, group work and independent study.

  • note and pen Assessments A variety of assessment approaches will be utilised relevant to the skills you’ll require in practice, including report-writing, oral presentations and some reflective essays.
  • briefcase Work placement

    In each year of the course you’ll undertake a full-time placement of 85 working days, supervised by a practice educator. This will allow you to experience the social work role in interesting and challenging settings including those with a focus on health and social care integration. 

  • library Facilities The facilities provided by the Simulation and Clinical Skills Centre offer highly realistic environments within which to develop your communication and engagement skills and to integrate theory with practice in a range of situations including visiting people in their own homes.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Dissertation ( HSC11100 )

This module offers the student an opportunity to lead and conduct a detailed research study in a profession-specific area relevant to health and social care practice. It involves critical evaluation of primary or secondary data, discussion and conclusion of the findings/results, including research limitations, presentation and synthesise evidence-based arguments to inform professional practice; education or policy. Examination of the ethical implications and reflect on the limitations of the completed research study. The skill required to synthesise the work for a potential publication facilitates the student to meet all the learning outcomes.

Where primary data collection is to be undertaken as part of a existing research project, the supervising lecturer will normally be responsible for gaining ethical approval before the module begins to ensure this process does not cause delays in your study. However, you will be expected to critically discuss the ethical implications of your research.

Topics will include:
Roles and responsibilities of students and their supervisor: the Dissertation Module Handbook contains information on getting started; literature searching and critique; managing references,
how to present and construct an article for a professional journal; identifying the gaps in the literature, time-management and reflection on process and progress; Dissemination of study findings and limitations in a format appropriate for the professional discipline.

Further information

Negotiating the Legal and Ethical Landscape ( HSC11114 )

In this module you will explore how the law defines the duties and powers of social workers. The module provides an overview of the origins of law, the Scottish legal system, and key social work legislation across Children and Families, Criminal Justice and Adult Services. The legislation is examined within the context of the codes of practice for social service workers and an understanding of human rights, including people’s rights to privacy and to govern and determine their own lives and outcomes. The module will ask you to reflect upon the ways in which the law may be an instrument for both empowerment and oppression, and the ethical debates related to the central tensions of care, control and risk inherent within the social work role. The module is practical and based clearly upon an appreciation of the ways in which a critical understanding of the legislation is both necessary and useful in day-to-day practice.
This module is designed to address four main SiSWE learning foci: Units 1, 2, 3, 4

Further information

Professional Preparation for Social Work Practice ( HSC10100 )

This module is delivered across the first two terms of your programme. Throughout this module you will be involved in a range of activities in order to support your preparation for work during your practice placement. All of your learning across all modules helps to prepare you for practice, of course, but this module focuses on specific essential knowledge, skills, processes and procedures that you will need in order to be able to start and complete your placement successfully. The module will support you to reflect on your own values and how they impact on work with service users and carers. There is also a professional requirement that you undertake an assessed piece of work in relation to the Key Capabilities in Child Care and Protection, which will form part of the assessment of your ‘Readiness for Practice’. This module will therefore include an assessed piece of work in that regard, and you must also pass the module as a whole in order to progress to your practice placement.

Your learning on this module will include developing your understanding of the social work role and the lived experiences of service users and carers. You will undertake specific work related to the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) National Practice model for understanding and assessing the needs of children, and you will develop your understanding of your specific role and responsibilities in relation to Child Protection, Adult Support and Protection, and Safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism (Prevent). Education will be provided in the prevention and management of violence and aggression, and you will practise your social work skills in different realistic settings including the home and hospital environment. Towards the end of the module you will explore some of the ways in which you will learn during your practice placement including how to make effective use of professional supervision. You will also focus on specific policies, procedures and documentation that you will need to understand and complete in order to provide evidence of your learning in relation to the Standards in Social Work Education.

Further information

Research Methods in Health and Social Care ( HSC11127 )

On this module you will learn to critically explore research evidence and be able to synthesise, integrate and apply knowledge relating to the research process. It will be important to evaluate research methods that are relevant to health and social care practitioners and service users through the use of real-life examples from local, national and international researchers. This module will enable you to develop your knowledge and skills to communicate research with colleagues, service users and families. By promoting evidence-based research this module will encourage working to high professional standard, providing shared governance and accountability of health and social care practice.
The module will include the following content:
1. An overview of the research process.
2. Critical appraisal of the research evidence to assist in the development of research ideas relevant to practice.
3. Evaluation of research designs including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.
4. Exploration in the importance of research governance and ethics.
5. Examination of dissemination strategies and the long-term impact of research findings.

Further information

Risk Uncertainty and Complex Decision Making ( HSC11102 )

This module will offer students a comprehensive theoretical and practical insight into working with people who are at risk, learning the best practice guidelines for assessing and managing risk, and how to do this through inter-agency working.

Students will develop skills in risk formulation and intervention/care/management planning through using a real case file to explore the risk and protective factors that are present, and through working within their field-specific ‘best-practice’ guidelines and then across the disciplines held within their class group.

Topics delivered within the module will include:
Theoretical and practice of risk assessment; Key risk assessment measures; Case files; Risk management; Practical skills in risk management; Risk management planning; Strategic interventions, treatment and rehabilitation; Validity of outcome measures and formal evaluation; Risk communication; Psychology of risk communication; Communication of risk assessment to different stakeholders; Intra-professional and Inter-agency working; Psychological aspects of human decision making; Biases and common errors in decision-making in judgement; Judgements and decisions made during risk assessments; strategies to reduce risk of biases; Thresholds for intervention.

Further information

Social Work Practice 1 ( HSC11116 )

This module complies with requirements of the Scottish Social Services Council, providing direct, assessed practice with service users. You will be placed within carefully selected placement agencies across a wide range of settings, from Local Authority teams to third sector organisation, schools, primary health and residential homes for older people. Placements may include settings where you are working in integrated Health and Social Care teams and/or alongside students from the MSc Physiotherapy or MSc Occupational Therapy programmes. You will have an allocated case load, providing a range of learning experiences. Practice is supervised by Practice Educators, who have attained a recognised qualification in assessing Social Work Students in Practice Placements. Where Practice Educators are “off-site”, they will be supported by on-site Link-workers, who will be responsible for day-to-day supervision and contribute to the assessment. Practice Educators have responsibility for selecting suitable work for you, in liaison with you, your Practice Tutor and agency management.

You can find comprehensive details about how we will prepare you for placement, the allocation process, what is involved in being on placement and how you will be assessed, in the Module Handbook.

This module is designed to address all six SiSWE Standards.

Further information

Social Work approaches to assessing compromised health and development ( HSC11113 )

This module is concerned with assessing needs and risks in the context of different forms of ill-health, adversity, crime and abuse, and where working with individuals and families on a compulsory basis may be necessary for people protection and to restore healthy developmental pathways. This module will consider ecological and outcomes-focussed approaches to assessing the impact of adversity and trauma upon development across the lifespan, including evaluating the evidence regarding brain development. Within the context of social processes relevant to inequalities in health and social care, it will reflect upon the personal impact of issues that may affect parenting capacity, such as learning disability, mental health, domestic abuse and substance misuse, before moving on to consider theories of crime and abusive behaviour and the needs of adults at risk of abuse or involved in the criminal justice system.

This module is designed to address three main SiSWE Learning foci: Units 1, 2, 4

Further information

Working creatively with the complex tensions between intra-personal and inter-personal processes ( HSC11118 )

This module will provide you with the opportunity to reflect further upon your placement experiences and to deepen your understanding and enhance your skills in relation to work with users of services who may be vulnerable to or present risks and where there are tensions between the demands of care and control. In particular, you will be asked to explore, reflect upon, and make productive use of the emotions that arise when engaging with service users in situations concerning conflict and risk. A variety of different practice situations with a range of service user groups will be considered in terms of an understanding of their different communication needs and the legal, theoretical and evidence base which shape and guide social work assessment and intervention.

This module is designed to address all 6 main SiSWE learning foci: Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Further information

Working together in Health and Social Care Contexts ( HSC11103 )

Through a blended learning approach you will explore, examine and identify topics which may include:
Personal identity, empathy and sense of self Reflection on own life experiences
Unconscious bias
Health and well-being monitoring
Resilience building
Human development across the lifespan
Ecological frameworks and social processes for individuals and communities (for example, housing, racism, poverty, education and employment opportunities, mental or physical ill health) and other sources of disadvantage that impact upon development and are associated with the risks of crime, marginalisation, isolation and exclusion, and inequalities in health and wellbeing
Relationships between social processes, disadvantage and social divisions.
Different communities and their respective strengths and limitations
Developing community profiles
Understanding of who service-users might be
Voluntary, private and statutory organisations working with service-users and communities
Local, national and global contexts of health and social care – policy drivers, standards and practices Professionals’ roles in supporting individuals and families in different community setting to overcome inequalities in health and social care through universal services, community resources and resilience

This module is designed to address two main SiSWE learning requirements: Units 1, 2.

Further information

Working with Individuals Families and Groups ( HSC11104 )

This module will give you the opportunity to develop and practise communication skills (verbal, non-verbal and symbolic) and to develop skills in self-awareness, self-reflection, and personal resilience. Recognising that you are continuing to develop your professional identity and an understanding of your own and others’ roles, this will include reflecting on your personal values and motivation for your chosen profession as well as your use of self and issues of power and difference in communication with service users and between practitioners within multi-disciplinary teams. You will explore a number of different theories and methods of communication, such as motivational interviewing, solution-focused approaches, systems approaches and crisis intervention, and you will learn how to judge the appropriateness of different approaches in different situations. You will consider working with service users in groups as well as individually, and you will also explore the nature, purpose and dilemmas involved in the recording and sharing of information generated by inter-personal interactions.

This module is designed to address three main SiSWE learning foci: Units 1, 2, 5.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

A Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with honours at a minimum of 2.2 preferably in a Social Science related subject.

In order to meet the Standards in Social Work Education (SiSWE), evidenced study in the area of English and Maths is also required.

In addition to academic qualifications, candidates must demonstrate commitment to and knowledge of Social Work as a career. Candidates should evidence this through their application form and personal statement. A wide range of experience may be considered to be relevant including paid employment in social care, voluntary work related to Social Work, and life story experience of Social Work services, particularly care experience. Candidates should relate their experiences to their motivation to study Social Work and their awareness of the scope of Social Work practice.

Applicants with other professional qualifications and experience may be considered on an individual basis. 

Interview Requirements

There will be a selection interview involving both a group and an individual interview. Competition for places varies from year-to-year and achievement of the typical minimum entry requirements does not always guarantee shortlisting for interview or a place on the course.

Admission to the Programme is dependent upon a satisfactory Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) Check. This will be sent to you prior to interview and will be conducted on the interview day. The cost of the PVG check will be paid by the University.

Additional Information

All students are required to register as a Social Work student with the Scottish Social Services Council on joining the programme. 

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test.  The English Language requirements for this programme are IELTS (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 with no individual component score of less than 6.5.  For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult or Mental Health)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2021/22 2022/23
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £6,525 tba
Overseas and EU £15,490 tba
You study this course over two academic years, fees listed are per annum.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.

A limited number of bursaries from the Scottish Social Services Council may be available to Home social work students. Please be advised that postgraduate social work students are not elibible to apply for a loan from the Student Awards Agenecy for Scotland (SAAS).

There may be futher financial support on offer depending on your personal circumstances.


High Court of Justiciary sign
The course enables you to provide leadership as a qualified social worker, ready to work in the local authority or third sector, within the areas of Children and Families, Criminal Justice and Adult Social Work.