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Durham University

Social Work

The Durham MSW is a 21 month course engaging students with the knowledge, skills and values that underpin social work practice with individuals, groups and communities. Academic study is complemented by two practice placements with different service user groups. Practice experience of statutory interventions with children and families or 'vulnerable adults' is complemented by opportunities for innovative practice in the voluntary and independent sectors in areas such as family justice, homelessness, substance use, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, community interventions and self-advocacy. With strong involvement of service users, carers and practice partners throughout the course, the MSW provides strong foundations for practice in any field of social work.

Entry requirements

Master of Social Work - MSW: Normally a minimum Upper Second class Honours degree (2:1); GCSE Mathematics and GCSE English grade 4 (or C) or above, or equivalent, at the time of application; Applicants must have sufficient recent experience (in employment, as a volunteer, as a service user or carer) in a social care, health care or related voluntary setting to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the capabilities of a social worker as indicated at the entry level of the Professional Capabilities Framework. As a guideline, this period of experience is unlikely to be less than six months; Applicants for whom English is not a first language will be required to demonstrate evidence of English Language Competence equivalent to IELTS 7 with no element less than 6.5. You will also be required to: Attend an interview*; Demonstrate fitness to undergo social work training. a. At interview stage you are asked to declare any health conditions or disabilities that may affect your ability to undertake a practice placement safely and effectively; b. Upon acceptance of a firm offer on the course, you are asked to complete an occupational health screening in line with national guidelines agreed with relevant professional bodies; c. Provide evidence that you do not have a criminal record that might restrict your opportunities to work with children or vulnerable adults. Candidates will be required as a condition of admission to undertake, or provide evidence of, a current DBS check. *Candidates who are based overseas and cannot attend an interview in person may be interviewed remotely and should contact the admissions secretary if necessary to seek advice.

Course modules

The MSW is structured around seven modules designed to meet the academic and practice learning requirements for a degree in social work. Year 1 Social Work in Practice (40 credits): Understanding perspectives of service users and carers; social exclusion; social policy and law for social work Social Work in Context (40 credits): Human growth and development through the life course, disability and mental health; social work theories and methods; working in organisations Professional and Personal Development (30 credits): Principles, values and ethics; critical thinking and evidence-based practice; skills development; Interprofessional working Social Work Practice 1 (50 credits): 70-day practice placement in a partner agency. Year 2 Research in Social Work (45 credits): Research and evaluation design and methods; ethical issues in social welfare research; dissertation Advanced Social Work (30 credits): Advanced application of theories and methods; critical analysis of social work policy; protection and empowerment of vulnerable children, young people and adults Social Work Practice 2 (70 credits): 100-day practice placement.

Assessment methods

A range of assessment methods is used including essays, observation studies, project reports, case studies, group and individual presentations. Knowledge and understanding of social work law and policy is assessed in a take away exercise. Before embarking on the first placement, you will undergo a practical assessment of your communication skills in readiness for direct practice. Practice placements are assessed by critically reflective accounts of work with individuals, groups or communities and by your practice educator who provides regular supervision and observes your practice. You are also expected to seek, and reflect on, feedback from service users and professional colleagues. Research in Professional Practice is assessed through a 10,000 word dissertation.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (Northern Ireland) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (Scotland) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (Wales) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 18,300 per Year 1 (International) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (Channel Islands) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (EU) 21 Months
Master of Social Work - MSW Full-time October 2019 8,000 per Year 1 (England) 21 Months

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Durham University DH1 3LG North East

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Key information

Recruitment and Admissions Office
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