Programme Specification for MA Social Work

 This programme is only offered at: UEL and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Final award


Intermediate awards available

PGCert in Applied Social Studies, PGDip in Applied Social Studies, MA Applied Social Studies (non-social work awards)

Intermediate awards do not lead to eligibility to apply to the Health and Care Professions Council as a social worker.

UCAS code


Details of professional body accreditation

Programme approval from HCPC and endorsement from the College of Social Work (TCSW) in August 2013

Relevant QAA Benchmark statements

Social Work (2008)

Date specification last up-dated

July 2014

The summary - programme advertising leaflet

Programme content

This programme offers students the opportunity to study for a professional qualification in social work which on successful completion leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health Care Professions Council.  Developed in collaboration with local employers, the programme reflects the priorities and needs of contemporary social work practice. It is available for full-time study, over two years, with a September entry point.

The programme aims to equip students with the skills, knowledge and reflective capacities required to be a social worker.  Students will study the foundations of social work, including social work theory and practice, communication skills, ethics and values, and social policy.  Students will also study social work law, human growth and development, and will continue to develop their understanding of the social work role in year 2.  Students undertake two practice placements, 70 days in year 1 and 100 days in year 2.   In addition, students undertake 30 days skills training.

What is special and unique about the programme at UEL

This is a two-year, full-time post graduate programme. The programme provides a professional and academic training for people who wish to qualify as social workers in England. By the end of your programme of study, provided you have successfully completed all academic, professional practice requirements and assessments you will be eligible to apply for registration with social work’s statutory regulator the Health and Care Professions Council. Throughout your studies you will have the opportunity to develop a sound knowledge base encompassing theory, social policy, the ethical and legal bases for practice, and an understanding of organisational contexts. Through the combination of academic input, skills teaching and practice placements you will also have the opportunity to develop an array of methods of intervention to enable you to work with service users, carers and other professionals in a range of contemporary settings.  

The programme runs in a unique collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, a world renowned institution specialising in training a wide range of professionals in a range of areas of clinical practice. This offers learners the opportunity to study at two institutions. We also offer a distinctive practice learning experience, with practice placements available in a wide variety of settings.  The programme is taught by academics who are research active, and all the lecturers are qualified social workers who have worked in a variety of settings and have a wide range of expertise between them.

For admission to the MA Social Work programme candidates are required to have the following qualifications and skills:

1. GCSE Maths and English, grade C or above (or equivalent) and;

2. Some experience of working with vulnerable people in a caring role and an understanding of how this relates to social work practice.

3. Normally a 2:1 degree classification in any subject is required; however, candidates who meet criteria 1 and 2, but have a 2:2, plus a post graduate qualification or extensive experience may be considered.

Additional professional entry requirements are listed below:

Applicants are required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) for Regulated Activity  

We are required by the Health and Care Professions Council, social work’s statutory regulator to consider applicants’ potential health needs and the possible impact on fitness to practice. We therefore encourage all applicants to complete a health and wellbeing self-declaration form at the interview relating to health conditions that will affect their practice.   

Entrants must demonstrate their suitability for social work training, i.e. their potential to meet the required Health and Care Professions Council’s ‘Standards of Proficiencies’ by the end of their training, and possess the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be social workers.  Candidates will need to outline on their application form and during interview, the knowledge, skills, insight and experience gained through related work experience and personal life experiences.

Entrants must demonstrate that they can understand and make use of written material and be able to communicate clearly and accurately in spoken and written English.  These requirements will be assessed through a written test and individual interviews.

Applicants whose first language is not English must meet communication and comprehension skills to International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a score of 7 (with 6.5 in all elements).

International Qualifications will be checked for appropriate matriculation to UK Higher Education postgraduate programmes.

Social work at UEL does not accept transfers from other programmes. Aegrotat awards do not lead to registration with the HCPC

At UEL we are committed to working together to build a learning community founded on equality of opportunity - a learning community which celebrates the rich diversity of our student and staff populations. Discriminatory behaviour has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. Within a spirit of respecting difference, our equality and diversity policies promise fair treatment and equality of opportunity for all. In pursuing this aim, we want people applying for a place at UEL to feel valued and know that the process and experience will be transparent and fair and no one will be refused access on the grounds of any protected characteristic stated in the Equality Act 2010

Programme structure

  • Year 1 – Semester A, full-time at UEL; semester B, full-time study which includes teaching at the  Tavistock and 70 day placement. 
  • During year 1, you will study; Fundamentals of Social Work Practice, Social Work Law and Human Growth and Development. 
  • Year 2 – Full-time study which includes teaching at the Tavistock and 100 day placement throughout the year.
  • During year 2, you will study; Professional Development and undertake a dissertation. 
  • All modules are 30 credits, except the dissertation module which is 60 credits. 

Learning environment

You will be taught at both UEL and The Tavistock Centre.  We integrate a wide range of teaching pedagogies on the programme, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, work discussion groups and practice placements. There is also an opportunity to undertake a child observation in year 1 of the programme as well as preparing for practice, which includes a five-day shadowing experience of a social worker.  Students’ practice placement portfolios will document students’ learning and development of knowledge and skills when undertaking social work placements. Experiences of different approaches to researching the social world are taught and students will be supported to develop a proposal and undertake a dissertation in year two of the programme.  Student learning is also supported by lecture notes, module handbooks and suggested reading, information about which is available online. Learning resources include IT facilities, access to electronic databases and specialist library facilities.


A range of different assessment approaches are used including case studies, essays, group presentations, practice placement portfolios and a dissertation. The law module includes an online test.  There is a professional body requirement that all students can evidence ‘fitness for practice’ before the placement can commence in year 1 and therefore the module, Fundamentals of Social Work Practice must be passed before students can commence the first placement.  Practice placements are assessed via a portfolio which evidences the professional body (The College of Social Work) and statutory regulator (Health and Care Profession Council) requirements.

Undertaking the second placement is dependent on all modules being achieved in year 1.  

Relevance to work/profession

The MA in Social Work offers a postgraduate route that enables registration as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Dissertation and project work

This programme runs in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, a world renowned institution specialising in the treatment of, and training in mental health.  This is the only social work programme in the UK that collaborates with the NHS in this way.  UEL and The Tavistock Centre have had a long history of training social workers.  Our graduates are well placed to gain employment in social work posts in a range of settings.

Added value

This programme runs in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, a world renowned institution specialising in the treatment of, and training in mental health. This is the only social work programme in the UK that collaborates with the NHS in this way. UEL and The Tavistock Centre have had a long history of training social workers. Our graduates are well placed to gain employment in social work posts in a range of settings.

Your future career

Our graduates gain employment in a variety of social work settings, i.e. the voluntary and statutory sector, working with a wide range of service user groups.  After gaining a professional and academic qualification in social work at postgraduate level, you will be required to continue your professional development as part of your professional registration. This will firstly be through the Assessed and Supported Year in Practice and may also be through further post-qualifying awards in specialist areas of practice. Through these programmes social workers can continue to develop academically, professionally and develop skills and expertise in specialist areas of social work practice. UEL offers a range of post-qualifying programmes, at various levels going up to a professional doctorate in social work run at the Tavistock Centre.  

How we support you

Individual tutorial support is offered within the programme and we provide a supportive environment within which to explore the social work profession. You will have an induction at both UEL and the Tavistock. We encourage critical reflection and support you to develop your understanding of the social work role. All modules are taught by experienced social work practitioners and academics; and practice links are a strength of the programme. We offer work discussion groups to enable students to make links between theory and practice and reflect on the challenges of the social work role. The curriculum emphasises evidence-based practice and we also provide research methods training and support. Tutor support is also provided whilst students are on placement, and tutors undertake placement visits. Module leaders and seminar leaders also provide more tailored support around the different subjects being studied.  The programme is unique in that there is a programme leader based at UEL and an organising tutor based at the Tavistock to ensure the collaborative programme is well run and managed.
Specialist support including financial advice, careers advice and learning support is also available from central university services.

Bonus factors

The University of East London offers a wide range of practice placements in a number of areas in London. The opportunity to study both at UEL and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust gives students the opportunity to experience university culture as well as a working clinic. The programme emphasises relationship-based approaches to social work, utilising small work discussion groups.

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Outcomes section

Programme aims and learning outcomes

What is this programme designed to achieve?


Through delivering high quality social work education, at postgraduate level, this programme is
designed to:

  • Enable qualifying level social work students, at the point of completion of their social work postgraduate MA, to meet all fifteen of the HCPC Standards of Proficiency and The College of Social Work’s Professional Capabilities Framework standards.
  • Enable students to gain a professional social work qualification which leads to eligibility to apply for professional registration as a social worker with the HCPC.
  • Offer students an intellectually rewarding and stimulating two year postgraduate qualifying level programme where theory and practice are integrated throughout both academic and practice modules.
  • Deliver a coherent curriculum which is relevant to contemporary practice and related methods of assessment. The programme is informed by: The Standards of Proficiency (HCPC, 2012), which are linked to the Professional Capabilities Framework (College of Social Work, 2012), the curriculum guides (The College of Social Work/Higher Education Academy, 2012) and the Standards of Education and Training (HCPC, 2012).
  • Work in partnership with the Stakeholder Group, which includes service users and carers, students and employers.

What will you learn? (Linked to Standards of Proficiency)

On successful completion of this programme students will have knowledge, skills and
understanding in the following areas, all of which reflect the Standards of Proficiency (Health
and Care Professions Council) and the Professional Capabilities Framework (The College of
Social Work):


1. Safe practice, risk assessment frameworks and how to recognise and respond to
signs of abuse and neglect (1.0–1.5).
2. Current legislation, safeguarding practice and how to use authority (2.0–2.9).
3. The professional requirements of the regulator (2.10).
4. Understand confidentiality (7.1-7.2)
5. The impact of culture, identify and diversity on practice and be able to reflect on
their own values and identity (5.0–5.4).
6. Knowledge of communication resources (8.7).
7. Knowledge of theory, models, methods, legislation, policy and practice relevant to
contemporary practice (13.0, 13.4).
8. Knowledge of the legal, policy and procedural frameworks within which social work
takes place (13.1–13.2).
9. Knowledge of a range of research methodologies and understanding of how to use
research to support understanding of the lives and experiences of people who need
social work services (14.6).

Thinking skills

1. Ability to maintain fitness to practise (3.1–3.5).
2. Reflect on practice and use appropriate knowledge, theory and skills to work with
people (14.1, 14.6–14.8).
3. How to reflect on their own practice and contribute to critical evaluation and engage
in professional supervision (11–11.2 and 12.0–12.2).

Subject-Based Practical skills

1. Maintaining professional boundaries (3.4).
2. Managing the physical and emotional impact of their practice (3.5).
3. Practise as an autonomous professional exercising professional judgment (4.1–4.5).
4. Practising in a non-discriminatory manner and promoting social justice (6.0–6.2).
5. Effective Inter-personal communication skills and knowledge and skills in the ability
to communicate with people with varying communication needs (8.0–8.11).
6. Be able to work appropriately with others (9.0–9.10).
7. Ability to maintain records (10.0–10.2).
8. Ability to engage in evidence informed practice (12.3).
9. Ability to draw on a range of practice skills and knowledge (14.0–14.4).
10. Be able to establish and maintain a safe practice environment (15.0–15.3).

Skills for life and work (general skills)

1. Maintaining professional boundaries (3.4).
2. Managing the physical and emotional impact of their practice (3.5).
3. Practising in a non-discriminatory manner and promoting social justice (6.0–6.2).
4. Effective interpersonal communication skills and knowledge and skills in the ability
to communicate with people with varying communication needs (8.0–8.6).
5. Ability to maintain records (10.0–10.2).
6. Ability to engage in evidence informed practice (12.3).
7. Ability to draw on a range of practice skills and knowledge (14.0–14.4).
8. Knowledge of health and safety legislation (15.2).

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Structure section

The programme structure


All programmes are credit-rated to help you to understand the amount and level of study that is

One credit is equal to 10 hours of directed study time (this includes everything you do, e.g.
lecture, seminar and private study).

Credits are assigned to one of 5 levels:

0      equivalent in standard to GCE 'A' level and is intended to prepare students for year one of an      undergraduate degree programme

1      equivalent in standard to the first year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

2      equivalent in standard to the second year of a full-time undergraduate degree

3      equivalent in standard to the third year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

M      equivalent in standard to a Masters degree

Credit rating

The overall credit-rating of this programme is 180 credits.

Typical duration

The typical duration of this programme is two years full-time.

How the teaching year is divided

This is a two year, full time programme. The teaching year is divided into two semesters. The
teaching year begins in September and ends in June. Students undertake 90 credits in year 1
and 90 credits in year 2. Students undertake the dissertation in year 2 of the programme. Two
practice placements are also undertaken during the programme.

What you will study when



Module Title






Year One






Fundamentals of Social Work






Social Work Law




60 credits
at M level


Exit Award: Post-Graduate Certificate in Applied Social Studies (non-social work award)





Professional Practice Placement
1 (70 days)






Human Growth and

SK7103 M 30 



Year Two




A and B  2

Professional Practice Placement
2 (100 days)



A and B  2

Professional Development

SK7105 M 30

credits at
M level


Exit Award: Post-Graduate Diploma in Applied Social
Studies (non-social work award)


A and B



SK7106 M 60

credits at
M level

  MA Social Work (qualifying social work award) must include two successfully completed practice placements      

credits at
M level

  MA Applied Social Studies (non social work award) Final practice placement not successfully passed and completed      

LevelUEL Module CodeModule titleCreditStatus

M (year 1)

SK7 101

Fundamentals of
Social Work



M (year 1)

SK7 102

Social Work Law



M (year 1)

SK7 103

Human Growth and



M (year 1)

SK7 104

Practice Placement



M (year 2)

SK7 105

Professional development



M (year 2)

SK7 106




M (year 2)

SK7 107

Practice Placement


Requirements for gaining an exit award (these do not qualify you to become a social

• In order to gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Social Studies, you will need to
obtain 60 credits at Level M.
• In order to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies, you will need to obtain
120 credits at Level M
• In order to gain an MA in Applied Social Studies, you will need to obtain 180 credits at
Level M and pass placement one.

Requirements for gaining a social work award

• In order to obtain a Masters, you will need to obtain 180 credits at Level, plus
successfully pass both practice placements

Masters Award Classification

Where a student is eligible for a Masters award then the award classification is determined by calculating the arithmetic mean of all marks and applying the mark obtained as a percentage, with all decimals points rounded up to the nearest whole number, to the following classification

70% - 100%


60% - 69%


50% - 59%


0% - 49%

Not Passed

Further Information

In order to be eligible for registration with the HCPC, students must have been awarded the MA
in Social Work. The Certificate, Diploma and MA in Applied Social Studies do not provide
students with a qualification that would enable registration with the HCPC.

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Teaching and learning

Knowledge is developed through

• lectures and seminars;
• enquiry and action learning sets;
• group work activities;
• examinations.


Thinking skills are developed through

• group work activities;
• work discussion groups;
• Practice Placement Portfolios.


Practical skills are developed through

• role plays;
• practice placements;
• reflective feedback;
• observation;
• mock interviews with service users.


Skills for life and work (general skills) are developed through

• practice placements;
• group work.


Knowledge is assessed by

• coursework;
• reflective writing;
• practice placements;
• presentations.


Thinking skills are assessed by

• case studies;
• practice placements.


Practical skills are assessed by

• portfolios;
• undertaking practice placements where you will be assessed against national
• role plays;
• mock interviews with service users.


Skills for life and work (general skills) are assessed by

• undertaking two practice placements;
• direct observation;
• portfolios.

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Quality section

How we assure the quality and standards of this programme

Before this programme started

Before this programme started, the following was checked:

• there would be enough qualified staff to teach the programme;
• adequate resources would be in place;
• the overall aims and objectives were appropriate;
• the content of the programme met national benchmark requirements;
• the programme met any professional/statutory body requirements;
• the proposal met other internal quality criteria covering a range of issues such as admissions policy, teaching, learning and assessment strategy and student support mechanisms.

This is done through a process of programme approval which involves consulting academic experts including some subject specialists from other institutions.

How we monitor the quality of this programme

The quality of this programme is monitored each year through evaluating:

• external examiner reports (considering quality and standards);
• statistical information (considering issues such as the pass rate);
• student feedback;
• employers’ views;
• service users’ and carers’ views.

Drawing on this and other information, programme teams undertake the annual Review and Enhancement Process which is co-ordinated at School level and includes student participation.  The process is monitored by the Quality and Standards Committee.

Once every six years an in-depth review of the whole field is undertaken by a panel which includes at least two external subject specialists. The panel considers documents, looks at student work, speaks to current and former students and speaks to staff before drawing its conclusions. The result is a report highlighting good practice and identifying areas where action is needed.

The role of the programme committee

This programme has a programme committee comprising all relevant teaching staff, student representatives and others who make a contribution towards the effective operation of the programme (e.g. library/technician staff). The committee has responsibilities for the quality of the programme. It provides input into the operation of the Review and Enhancement Process and proposes changes to improve quality. The programme committee plays a critical role in the quality assurance procedures.

The role of external examiners

The standard of this programme is monitored by at least one external examiner. External examiners have two primary responsibilities:

• to ensure the standard of the programme;
• to ensure that justice is done to individual students.

External examiners fulfil these responsibilities in a variety of ways including:

• approving exam papers/assignments;
• attending assessment boards;
• reviewing samples of student work and moderating marks;
• ensuring that regulations are followed;
• providing feedback through an annual report that enables us to make improvements for the future.

The external examiner reports for this programme are located on the UEL virtual learning environment (UELPlus or Moodle) on the School notice board under the section entitled ‘External Examiner Reports and Responses’. You can also view a list of the external examiners for the UEL School by clicking on the link below:

Listening to the views of students

The following methods for gaining student feedback are used on this programme:

• module evaluations;
• informal feedback;
• student representation on programme committees (meeting 3 times a year).

Students are notified of the action taken through:

• circulating the minutes of the programme committee;
• curriculum development.

Listening to the views of others

The following methods are used for gaining the views of other interested parties:

• stakeholder meetings and annual questionnaires;
• annual student satisfaction questionnaire;
• service user participation;
• practice educator workshops;
• Practice Assessment Panel.

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Further Information section

Where you can find further information

  • Social work is located in the Cass School of Education and Communities where there is experience of teacher training education, youth and community work and early childhood studies. The UEL web site is at, and further information is available from:

Text-only version

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Apply online

Admission Requirements

Applicants must be graduates in any discipline who can demonstrate a clear commitment to social work. Applicants should normally have at least six months' (full-time equivalent) experience of social work at the time of application, with preference to those who are sponsored by employers. There is a great demand for the programme and so applicants are normally only accepted if they have 2.1 degree or higher (i.e. first or a post-graduate award). Occasionally where applicants already have several years’ experience of social work they may be accepted with a 2.2. degree. In exceptional circumstances applicants may be accepted with other equivalent qualifications, for example where someone has a qualification from abroad that does not count as an honours degree, but also has substantial practical experience and clear evidence of attainment through other means of academic standards equivalent to the level of a UK honours degree.

Department of Health requirements apply to selection procedures for admission to this programme. These requirements include: assessment of personal capacity for social work, personal interviews, demonstration of basic academic skills, involvement of stakeholders and service users and carers in the assessment of applicants' potential for social work. In addition applicants must declare whether they have criminal convictions or have been subject to disciplinary proceedings in any prior employment (the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply to professional qualifying courses in social work). Prior to enrolment all applicants will be required to complete an application for an Enhanced DBS check. 


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