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 new 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. 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.

Applications submitted after 30 June 2019 are not guaranteed to be considered for January 2020 entry.

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 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 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 the users of 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.

    Lead academics

    Dr Peter Yates is a qualified social worker with over ten years’ experience of child protection, having worked in a local authority children and families practice team followed by four years as a senior practitioner within a specialist service for young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour. He has previous experience working in a hospice for adults living with HIV and AIDS, and taught social work at the University of Edinburgh before taking up a post as route leader for the MSc in Advanced Practice (Child Protection) at Edinburgh Napier University.

  • 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.


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

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Dr Peter Yates

Dr Peter Yates is a social worker with over 10 years’ complex children & families experience, including young people who have sexually harmed and previous work with adults affected by HIV/AIDS.

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.

Evidenced study in the area of English and Maths is also required.

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

In addition to the academic qualifications, applicants must demonstrate a commitment to and knowledge of Social Work as a career via a maximum 500 word personal statement. This should include a reflection upon their personal values, their personal motivation for this career choice and their reasons for wishing to study on this particular programme.

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. 

International students

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

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • 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 2018/19 2019/20
Home/EU £5,850 £6,084
Overseas £13,000 £13,520

You study this course over two academic years, fees listed are per annum.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees.

The University offers a 10% discount on MSc Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.


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.