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MA Social Work

Course overview

Start date

September 2021

Subject area

Social Work and Community




On campus, dual delivery

Course summary

This MA Social Work degree equips you with the skills, knowledge and reflective capacity you need to practise as an effective social worker.

You will develop a sound knowledge base that encompasses theory, the ethical and legal bases for practice, social policy and an understanding of how social work fits into organisational contexts.

The course promotes relationship-based practice and is unique because of the link with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

It is extremely popular, with up to 600 applicants each year for 40 places. The standard for entry is therefore very high, although good experience of practice will be given serious consideration.

The opportunity to study both at the University of East London and the Tavistock allows you to experience university culture and a working clinic. As part of the course you will participate in a week-long Group Relations Conference as well as weekly work discussion groups.

Because the course attracts students from different cultural backgrounds and a range of disciplines - including psychology, law, sociology, criminology, business studies and even science - the knowledge our students bring enriches the course experience as much as the teaching.

Return to campus: dual delivery

In a Covid-secure environment, enjoy learning on our state-of-the-art campuses and flex between online delivery

Find out more

In partnership with the NHS

This is the only Social Work master’s course in the country that is run in conjunction with an NHS trust. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is internationally renowned in the field of systemic and psychodynamic approaches to training social workers.

Experienced and diverse staff

The staff team across both institutions is experienced and diverse. You are taught by practitioners and academics who are up-to-date in the field, research active and close to practice.



You will graduate with a master’s degree which allows you to register as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The course is validated by the HCPC and endorsed by the College for Social Work.


What we're researching

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. 

Dr Jo Finch, Programme Leader of the Prof Doc Social Work, 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.

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

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’.

Muibat Alli

MA Social Work

Social Work at UEL is unique because it draws heavily on psychoanalytic concepts that allow you to understand issues not just on the surface, but also to see beneath the surface.

Fees and funding

A limited number of bursaries are provided by the NHS Business Services Authority on behalf of the Department for Health, for students undertaking postgraduate programmes. Bursaries are contributions to living costs which do not have to be repaid.

The number of bursaries for postgraduate courses is limited, so being offered a place on a Social Work course is not a guarantee of receiving a bursary. For postgraduate students the bursary could include a contribution towards the cost of tuition fees which is paid direct to the university, a non-means tested Basic Grant, which includes an amount for the Placement Travel Allowance, and a means-tested Maintenance Grant, which is a contribution towards living costs.

Other allowances could be available depending on students' individual circumstances - e.g. if they have a dependent adult, if they are a parent, if they have a disability.

To receive a bursary, students must satisfy certain residency criteria, details of which can be found here.

£10,280 to fund your Masters Programme under the Postgraduate Loans (PGL) scheme

Postgraduate Loans (PGL)

The Postgraduate Loan (PGL) provide non means-tested loans of up to £10,906 to taught and research masters students.  It will be paid to students as a contribution towards tuition fees, living costs and other course costs.

Applications are made directly through Student Finance England


Whether you qualify depends on:
•    if you’ve studied on a postgraduate course before
•    your course
•    your age
•    your nationality or residency status

Full eligibility can be found here 

Please take a look at the Postgraduate Loans for an overview of the new funding.

Apply for a 50 per cent discount on your tuition fees! You can get a 50 per cent discount on course fees through a UEL Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to full-time and part-time UK and EU students of taught postgraduate courses. *Exclusions apply.

Find out more about full eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Terms and conditions apply.

How we can help you

Did you know that with a postgraduate qualification you can expect to earn more than someone who only holds an undergraduate degree?

If you want to build new skills, change career paths, or further your career prospects, a postgraduate degree can help you. Our range of scholarships and bursaries will make financing your education that much easier. Below is some of the funding available to support you in your studies:

Terms and conditions apply.

Below are some ideas on how to fund your postgraduate study:
There are a number of ways you can pay your fees to UEL
•    Online payment facilities
•    By telephone
•    In person at our Docklands or Stratford campus
•    Bank transfer
Full information on making payments can be found here
If you wish to discuss payments to the University, please contact our Income Team on 020 8223 2974 or you can email

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees

Per academic year

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations.  Further information can be found online.

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

As part of the Tier 4 student visa requirements, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) estimate that you will need £1,265* per month to cover your living costs. It includes expenses for accommodation, food and drink, travel within London, text books, entertainment, clothing, toiletries and laundry. Most Tier 4 students are required to show they have sufficient funds to cover the first nine months of the course before they start- a total of £11,385- in addition to the tuition fees. You can find more information about the specific requirements of the Tier 4 student visa here. The amount that you will spend can vary depending on your lifestyle. The UKCISA International Student Calculator can help you plan and manage your money.

* Please note the Immigration Rules are subject to change and this figure is likely to be increased by UKVI year on year. Please therefore check our ISA page for more information at the time of preparing your visa application.

Deposits and paying by instalments

International students are required to pay a deposit prior to being issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Your remaining balance will be paid in five monthly instalments over your first term. The first of these instalments must be paid when completing your enrolment on arrival at UEL. Please follow the payment instructions here.

After the required payment has been made, you will be asked to complete the online International Student Reply Form to confirm your acceptance of our offer and of our terms of admittance and fees policy.

Our International team at UEL are available for advice and guidance on studying in London, fees, scholarships and visa requirements.


Tuition fees

Per academic year

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals starting a course in September 2021, will no longer be eligible for Home fees. However, such nationals benefitting from Settled Status or Citizens' Rights may become eligible for Home fees as and when the UK Government confirms any new fees regulations.  Further information can be found at UKCISA.

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.1 Honours in any discipline
Minimum 2:2 (Hons) degree classification and a post graduate qualification or extensive relevant experience may also be considered.
Applicants are required to have Grade 4 / C in GCSE English and Maths or equivalent. All suitable applicants are also required to attend an interview and pass a literacy test.


(Including European Union)

All applicants applying to study Social Work will be required to take an in person test and subsequent interview. Applicants who are successful in passing the Social Work test will generally be interviewed 2 weeks after the test date. We are unable to arrange Skype or any other online means for our test and interviews. Photographic ID such as a passport or driving licence will be required on the day of your test and interview.
Overall IELTS 7.5 with a minimum of 7.5 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

If you do not meet the academic English language requirements for your course, you may be eligible to enrol onto a pre-sessional English programme. The length of the course will depend on your current level of English and the requirements for your degree programme. We offer a 5-week and an 11-week pre-sessional course. Find out more here.

  • Applicants are required to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check 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

  • All entrants must demonstrate their suitability for social work training showing they possess the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities with the capability of meeting the required professional standards by the end of their training. Some experience of working with vulnerable people in a caring role and an understanding of how this relates to social work practice is essential

  • All shortlisted applicants must confirm prior to offer that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet use and use of email, and will be asked to specify how these skills have been obtained

  • Direct transfers from other programmes will not be considered

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

As you will have close contact with children and/or vulnerable adults on the this course, you will be required to have a satisfactory Disclosure & Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure certificate.

You need to complete this process prior to starting the course. Failure to complete this process will impact you going on placement as part of the course.

Further information is available here


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.

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.

  • Fundamentals of Social Work (core)
  • Social Work Law (core)
  • Human Growth and Development (core)
  • Professional Practice Placement 1 (core)
  • Professional development (core)
  • Dissertation (core)
  • Professional Practice Placement 2 (core)

How you'll be assessed

We use a range of assessment approaches. These include case studies, a formative service user interview, essays, online tests, group presentations, practice placement portfolios and a dissertation.

Course specification

How you'll learn

We offer a wide range of teaching styles, from lectures to seminars, tutorials to workshops.

The child observation and practice placement in Year 1 is supported by a small group reflective seminar. This work discussion continues throughout Year 2 and is an approach to learning from experience that is unique to this course.

Your initial preparation for practice includes five days of shadowing a social worker.

In preparation for practice, we also offer you the exciting opportunity to work with a group of actors from a theatre company in role-play social-work scenarios.

The actors are given a brief and you will interview them or produce a case study. You are given feedback on your performance from a tutor, from someone who has used social work services and from practitioners.

What you'll learn

This full-time two-year course has a distinct theoretical and practical tradition with a focus on developing reflective practitioners.

The theoretical and practical learning are not separate but intertwined. The emphasis is on building a framework of skills and knowledge – communication skills, ethics and values, social policy – within which you can develop your practice.

The Fundamentals of Social Work Practice module is a wide-ranging introduction to theory and practice. This is studied in Year 1 and prepares you for practice.

Once you pass this module, you can move on to the first of two long practice learning placements (for 70 days in Year 1 and 100 days in Year 2). You will also develop your knowledge of social work law via a module where you will begin the process of applying law to practice situations.

You will also study the Human Growth and Development module at the Tavistock. This includes a baby or young child observation, and, to  develop your understanding of the social work role, you will study Social Work Law.

In Year 2 you will undertake your dissertation and study the Professional Development modules, which support your placement learning.

Your future career

We are the principal social work training provider in east London. Choose this course and you will have a head start when it comes to finding a job in social work in the area.

The MA Social Work has been developed in collaboration with local employers so it reflects the priorities and needs of contemporary social work practice in east London. Local employers trust the training given to our graduates and regularly employ them once qualified.

There are good employment opportunities in social work in London, often in children and family contexts but also other service groups and in a variety of settings– voluntary and statutory, for example.

After gaining a professional and academic qualification in social work at postgraduate level, you are required to continue your professional development as part of your professional registration.

This will firstly be through the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment and may also be through further post-qualifying awards in specialist areas of social work at the University of East London and the Tavistock.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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