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MA in Social Work

This course will enhance your knowledge of social work theory and legislation, apply your learning to practice, and then develop your critical and analytical skills as a qualified practitioner. The subject matter is interdisciplinary, derived from psychology, sociology, social policy, law and social work studies. It includes an embedded, professionally-qualifying Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work.

Key features of the course

  • The embedded Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work is a qualifying award for social workers in England and in Scotland by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
  • Includes a residential weekend, face-to-face workshops and two substantive work-based practice placements and a project that is of immediate and clear benefit to local practice
  • Equips you to engage in critical and reflective professional practice, according to the Standards for social work education and Codes of Practice and Conduct for the nation in which you train
  • Explores how to disseminate your discoveries to others and how your improved practice might be shared more widely

Masters degree

Course code
F80
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
Minimum – 30 months
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

To gain this qualification you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules which must be studied in the order listed below:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Developing social work practice (K832)

Developing social work practice is the first of two compulsory modules leading to the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work which is a professionally-qualifying award.

 

See full description

60 26 Jan 2019
Advancing social work practice (K833)

Advancing social work practice is the second of the two compulsory modules leading to our Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work which is a professionally-qualifying award.

See full description

 
60  06 Oct 2018
Transforming professional practice (KXK829) planned for October 2019
 
60 Oct 2019

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

You can apply for credit transfer towards the Masters degree in Social Work if you hold a qualifying Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work which meets the requirements of the social work regulator (the HCPC) for a qualifying award. It must have been completed within the last 4 years and equate to at least 120 credits at Masters level (FHEQ level 7, SCQF level 11). 

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a Master of Arts in Social Work, entitling you to use the letters MA Soc SW (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

England

Applicants will be required to have an honours degree with a minimum 2:2 classification in any discipline together with a proven record of experience of engaging directly with Service Users in a professional setting. Candidates’ experience will be considered individually on application but we would normally expect a minimum of one year's experience – either paid or voluntary – in a setting such as a local authority or a health or social care provider in the private, voluntary or independent sector.

Applicants who do not meet the work experience requirement but hold a 2:1 classification in a cognate discipline will also be considered. Relevant subjects include:

  • Health and Social Care
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology/Social Studies
  • Law/Legal studies
  • Teaching/Education

In addition, you must satisfy the following entry criteria:

  • Complete an OU application form which will include a personal statement, references and employer’s endorsement
  • Complete a declaration of suitability for social work
  • Have GCSE grade A*–C in English and mathematics or certified equivalent
  • Demonstrate IT competence through self-declaration
  • Achieve an International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) score of 7 if English is not your first language
  • Undertake a written test
  • Take part in an interview
  • Have an enhanced DBS with lists check (i.e. checks against all registers including both children and vulnerable adults) dated within one year prior to starting the programme
  • Complete a health check. If, in exceptional circumstances, there are serious doubts about your fitness to practice on health grounds, the University’s doctor may ask you to undergo a medical examination. This examination will be at  your own expense.

You must be supported by your employer, who must undertake to provide the required practice learning opportunities. Applications for this qualification can only be made via the supporting agency.

Scotland

Applicants must have a minimum of a 2:2 classification in a relevant health/societal/psychology or other cognate discipline such as:

  • Health and Social Care
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology/Social Studies
  • Law/Legal studies
  • Teaching/Education

Applicants will preferably also have a proven record of experience of engaging directly with Service Users in a professional setting. Candidates’ experience will be considered individually on application but we would normally expect a minimum of one years’ experience – either paid or voluntary – in a setting such as a local authority or a health or social care provider in the private, voluntary or independent sector.

In addition, you must:

  • Complete an OU application form, which will include a personal statement and relevant references
  • Demonstrate your ability to understand and communicate in written and spoken English
  • Demonstrate that you have appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to train as a social worker
  • Be part of a selection process
  • Register as a student social worker with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) which includes a check under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme
  • Provide evidence of Standard Grade Two in English and mathematics or a recognised equivalent 

You must be supported by your employer, who must undertake to provide the required practice learning opportunities. Applications for this qualification can only be made via the supporting agency.

Further information and how to apply is available from the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care website.  

How long it takes

This qualification comprises three modules, K832, K833 and KXK829. We advise that the minimum time required to complete this qualification is two and a half years, and most students will be able to achieve the qualification within this timescale by successfully completing the modules in sequence. However, even if you do not study a module every year, you must finish the first two modules within five years and complete the qualification within nine years.

Average study time per week is likely to be 12–15 hours, but will be considerably higher during periods of practice-based learning when you will typically be required to attend the placement setting four days per week for up to 23 weeks at a time.

Geographical availability

The full masters programme (including the PG Diploma) is available for study in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  It is approved as a social work qualifying award in England by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and, subject to conditions, in Scotland by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

We have not applied for approval from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), however reciprocal arrangements are currently in place such that any social work qualifying award approved by one UK regulator, will be recognised by the other three.

The PG Diploma is not currently available for students working in Wales.

If you already hold a qualifying Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work from another HEI, you may be eligible for credit transfer to register directly onto the dissertation module in order to 'top up' to the Master of Arts in Social Work. This option will available across the UK.

 

Career relevance

This is a broad qualification spanning children and families, adults and mental health social work and prepares graduates to work in a range of settings including local authorities, healthcare providers and the private, voluntary and independent sector. On successful completion of the embedded Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, you will become eligible to apply for registration as a qualified social worker in England.
Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.