Social Work MSW

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

This programme is designed for graduates who wish to qualify as a social worker, and pursue their passion for improving people’s lives, by studying social work policy, practice and research within a two-year time frame. It will prepare you with the knowledge, self-awareness, and experience you need to thrive in the field of social work. You will 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.

The programme aims to develop your interest in, and knowledge and understanding of social work to enable you to:

1. Meet the registration requirements of the SSSC as a qualified social worker.
2. Uphold and promote the rights, values and autonomy of people receiving services and/or carers.
3. Become a critically reflexive practitioner who can lead change in the local, national and global health and social care environment. 
4. Learn with and from people receiving services, carers, and other health and social care professionals.
5. Develop skills in appraisal, evaluation, and synthesis of evidence to justify social work interventions and decision making.

At Edinburgh Napier University we aim to be recognised as a university that is professional, ambitious, innovative and inclusive, and to create an environment in which you feel confident, challenged and supported, and proud to be a student here. 

MSW Social Work student.

Mode of Study:



2 years

Course details

This programme is offered in a full-time study mode. As a full-time student you will study 9 modules plus a dissertation. A standard module is equivalent to 200 hours of learning and on successful completion of each module you will achieve 20 credits towards your award. You will also undertake research in the completion of a dissertation to gain 40 credits towards your master’s degree. 

Year 1: Developing an understanding of the social work role

The first year of the programme sets the foundations for understanding the social work role by exploring its legal and ethical context and by establishing some of the key knowledge, skills and values you will require to involve people who have experienced different forms of ill-health, abuse, adversity, and other forms of vulnerability and social injustice in the assessment of their needs and in decision making around their support. The importance of research and evidence is highlighted throughout, and a practice 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 programme builds in complexity by addressing challenges of risk assessment, public protection and decision making within the context of social work theory and practice. You will further develop your communication and assessment skills while involved with a range of people receiving services and/or carers. In doing so, you will explore issues of conflict and risk, and consider the possibility that children and adults who are in need of our care and support may also present risks to others. The final year will focus on the research proposal and dissertation allowing you to develop specific areas of professional interest and expertise. You will undertake a final practice placement which will enable you to make the transition into the workplace as a competent, confident and autonomous practitioner. 

Subjects include:

Year 1
  • Applied Social Work Models and Methods (20 credits)
  • Working with Individuals, Families and Communities (20 credits)
  • Legal, Policy, and Ethical Frameworks (20 credits)
  • AHP & Social Work Research Questions and Methodology (collaborative) (20 credits)
  • Social Work and Assessment (20 credits)
  • Practice Placement 1: Part A and Part B (20 credits)

Year 2

  • Changes and Challenges in Social Work (20 credits)
  • Safeguarding and Public Protection (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Practice Placement 2 (20 credits) 

Lead academics

Dr Jana Králová (‘Yana’, she/her) is Social Work academic, practitioner, author of peer-reviewed publications, researcher and publicly engaged social death preventer. Jana's scholarly interest in Social Death and its prevention includes all individuals and communities that are dehumanised, marginalised, discriminated against, oppressed, excluded, stigmatised, and otherwise considered worthless by others. Jana is interested in thinking, writing, and practising with these populations in ways which promote unconditional positive regard for all human beings. Jana uses dialogical approach to teaching, whereby all students are equal partners engaged through critical dialog and reflection in addressing the changes and challenges in contemporary social work.

Dr Hadijah Mwenyango is a Lecturer in Social Work at Edinburgh Napier University. Originally, a social work academic from Makerere University Uganda, she obtained her PhD in Social Work from The University of Edinburgh and her MSc in Social Work and Human Rights from Gothenburg University. Her research centres on the health needs and challenges of forced migrants/refugees. She is passionate about giving a voice to socially excluded populations. She is excited to welcome you to the MSW and will be the module leader on Applied Social Work Models and Methods, Social Work and Assessment and Social Work Practice 2. 

Dr Sarah Rose a qualified social worker and practice educator and worked for over a decade in local authority adult services in Scotland before moving into social work research and education. Sarah's PhD was in the emotional resilience of social workers, and she has subsequently been part of a research project concerned with the inclusion of self-care into social work curricula. Sarah's ongoing research interests centre on resilience, workforce wellbeing, professional integrity and ethical practice. She joined Edinburgh Napier University in 2022 and is the programme leader for the Graduate Certificate in Practice Learning, and the Master of Social Work module leader for Legal, Ethical and Policy Frameworks, and Safeguarding and Public Protection.  

Dr Evangelia Petropoulou has been a qualified social worker since 2004. She has experience of working with children and families in a range of settings in the statutory and voluntary sector. She completed a MSc in Inclusive and Special Education at the University of Edinburgh in 2012, and her PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2018. Her research interests and expertise include identifying the predictive and protective factors of injuries of people with learning disabilities and developing risk injury and risk fall injury assessment tools tailored to this population in order to implement the most promising interventions on a broad scale. She is also particularly interested in service provision and the involvement of people with learning disabilities in the design and delivery of health and social care services and education. 
Evangelia joined Edinburgh Napier University in 2022 and she is the module leader for ‘Working with Individuals, Families and Communities’, ‘AHP & Social Work Research Questions and Methodology’ and ‘Practice Placement 1: Part A and Part B’ modules. She is passionate about supporting social work students to develop their skills and knowledge in person-centred approaches. Providing an inclusive learning environment where students feel respected, valued, and academically stimulated motivates her approach. 

Kate Fennell is a social work lecturer and a research doctoral candidate (so, she's a student too!). Her practice experience spans 3 decades in Scotland and England. Specifically, Kate was a Mental Health Officer, practice teacher and adult protection lead officer in Edinburgh. Because of her practice experience, Kate teaches across a number of the programme modules but has a particular interest in mental health & capacity law and public protection. She is collaborating with people who use services, to provide authentic, informed, and inclusive learning experiences for MSW students in preparation for the reality of social work practice. Kate cycles everywhere, to work, across the UK, Europe and more significantly throughout Scotland’s fabulous Highlands and Islands.

  • 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 will undertake a work placement in order to consolidate your learning and to integrate the theory with practice. You will otherwise learn by a variety of teaching methods including scenario-based learning, tutorials, seminars, simulation, group work and independent study.

    A blended learning approach will utilise online technologies in combination with service user focused scenarios and case studies, group work and enquiry-based learning in order to facilitate problem definition and solving skills. People receiving services and carers will be involved directly in the delivery of teaching throughout your programme so that their expertise by experience can be incorporated alongside your theoretical and research-based learning. You will work and present ideas in groups as well as individually in order to develop further communication and interpersonal skills and attitudes as well as problem solving, analytical, critical and evaluative processes. 
  • note and pen Assessments

    The MSW programme will utilise a range of assessment approaches which are constructively aligned with the learning outcomes for each module, and which will allow you to develop skills important to your academic and professional development. 

    A range of summative assessment formats have been built into the programme, which include, but are not limited to reflective essays, reports, individual presentations, video-taped simulation (role-play), portfolio, research proposal, and practice placement assessments.

  • briefcase Work placement In each year of the course, you will 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 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, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

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 2023/24 2024/25
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £6,930 tba
Overseas and EU £17,090 tba

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.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

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.