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MA Youth and Community Work

Course overview

Start date

January 2018

September 2018

Subject area

Cass School of Education and Communities





On campus

Course summary

This established course opens the door for you to step straight into youth work. Only one other provider in London offers a postgraduate JNC qualification as part of a master’s course.

With 600 mandatory hours of practice learning to add to UEL-based learning, it is a demanding, but rewarding, commitment.

You will develop the ability to build confidence and trust in others, to deal with challenging behaviour and to engage, support and mentor young people in London – a dynamic environment for youth and community work. 

Our former students often supervise our current students in a professional capacity and you will be taught by experienced people who share your passion. The UEL tutors are locally based. They have strong links with and are active within the sector. 

Tracie Trimmer-Platman has just set up a new community youth project in Hackney Wick in a voluntary capacity, while Paul Adams is a member of the youth committee of Y Care International, a relief and development agency which works in partnership with YMCAs worldwide.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

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Validated by the National Youth Agency

The PGDip programme is professionally validated by the National Youth Agency – the national agency for youth work in the UK – so as well as a Master’s qualification, you will leave us with accredited Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) youth work status.


years' experience in youth an community work

You will learn from UEL tutors who are professionally qualified in youth work. Between them, course tutors Paul Adams and Tracie Trimmer-Platman have over 50 years of experience working with communities and young people.


graduate employability

Our employment rate in youth and community work is second to none. Our students find jobs – 100 per cent of those who finished their PGDip or MA at the University of East London in 2014 secured youth-work-related posts.

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What we're researching

Paul Adams, Course Leader of the MA Youth and Community Work course, is involved with a number of youth work organisations, including national government working groups.

He is also a trustee of Y Care International - an international relief and development agency working in partnership with YMCAs throughout the world to help them respond better to the needs of the most disadvantaged young people.

Our Centre for Social Work Research (CSWR) generates knowledge in social work thinking and methods. It also helps and encourages more social workers to become involved in research to improve shared knowledge.

Our founding goal is to shed light on underlying processes in practice and policy-making. We also work to strengthen the evidence base for ‘relationship-based social work’. This places the client-practitioner relationship at the heart of practice.

Current research themes include relational approaches to people at risk of self-harm or suicide, safeguarding and child protection, social work and education as well as the transformation of welfare in the UK.

The CSWR is led by Professor Stephen Briggs, who teaches on the Social Work MA course. His current research interests include adolescent mental health, psychoanalytic approaches to suicide and self-harm, and infant observation and its application to understanding infant mental health.

Dr Jo Finch, Course Leader of the Social Work MA, is deputy director of the CSWR and a research specialist in the field of practice education (practice learning, assessment and suitability) with a focus on struggling or failing students. Her work has been published in the British Journal of Social Work and the European Journal of Social Work in Practice.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 Honours in any subject.
We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. All suitable applicants are required to attend an interview.


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.


Evidence of a minimum 140 hours of experience working with young people between 13 and 19 years.

Applicants are required to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for Regulated Activity
Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre. Please click here for details.

How you'll learn

This master’s course can be studied on a one-year full-time or a two-year part-time basis.

Typically, you will spend Tuesdays at the University of East London working through the core modules by means of lectures and discussion-led seminars or tutorials.

There will also be an opportunity for creative experience learning with occasional field trips to see community projects in action.

The rest of your week is largely taken up with your placement. The professional validation aspect of the course specifies that you must complete 600 hours in placement practice during your course – one 300-hour placement in each semester. The placements will be undertaken in different organisations.

This practice-based learning is where theory meets practice. You will be able to bring in issues from your workplace and explore them in professional workshops with your fellow students.

On your placement, you may find yourself doing everything from outreach work to securing funding and resources for your placement organisation, from mentoring young people to completing evaluation forms.

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will be your contact while on placement. You will also have a JNC-qualified mentor or suitable equivalent in your placement organisation who will supervise, advise and monitor you.

We will support you to achieve the goals set out in your placement learning agreement.

What you'll learn

There are four core modules on the course. Two are the placement-based Fieldwork Practice modules 1 and 2.

In the university-based sessions, you will learn the principles of group work, theory, management and supervision as well as gaining insight into youth work policy.

You will then apply this knowledge in the field. You could be organising workshops in schools, putting on informally structured learning activities, developing young people’s inter-personal skills or working with partner organisations, such as the Youth Offending Service, housing associations, community organisations or schools.

The dissertation element of the course can have a tangible impact in the real world. For example, a current student is writing her dissertation on the effectiveness of anti-radicalisation programmes for Muslim youth run by a local foundation.

She is looking at the effectiveness of the foundation’s approach and has interviewed staff, volunteers and young people to gather opinions and come up with future recommendations. Her dissertation will double as a report for the foundation.

What you'll study

Policy, Theory and Practice of Youth Work (core)
Fieldwork Practice (1) (core)
Fieldwork Practice (2) (core)
Community Development, theory and practice (core)
Dissertation (core)

How you'll be assessed

There are certain national professional standards you have to meet and demonstrate through your placements. These will form part of the learning agreement we draw up with you and your organisation-based mentor prior to your placement.

Towards the end of your placement, a three-way meeting is set up with you, your mentor and your UEL tutor to ascertain whether you have met the goals set out in the learning agreement.

We ask the opinion of your mentor to help decide if you have passed your practice. That is a professional judgement and it is a pass or fail criterion.

Course specification

Your future career

The traditional model of youth work, where you work in and later manage a youth club as the focal point of the community, is becoming less common.

The range of roles open to you now is as rewarding as it is wide. You could move into the Third Sector, a social enterprise, a housing association, a voluntary organisation or even a college. 
For example, a local college has employed graduates of this course as student enrichment officers – in effect working in informal education on a college site. 

Other graduates are working as youth workers, in pupil referral units and youth offending teams. You could specialise in more targeted work, whether it is around learning support, diversion from crime or working with people already in the justice system.

As your career progresses and you gain both experience and credibility in the field, you can move into more senior roles, perhaps shaping policy, working in national charities such as Barnardo’s or The Children’s Society or taking a sideways step into a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

You could also develop an international, as well as a national and local, focus to your career – for instance, taking young people abroad, supervising and supporting them to broaden their horizons on a community project overseas.

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