Master of Arts in Social Work - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

This postgraduate qualification aims to enable you to:
  • operate as creative, critical and reflective professional practitioners in accordance with the Standards for social work education and Codes of Practice and Conduct relating to the nation of the UK in which you practise.
  • critically analyse the significance of the complex social, cultural, legal economic, political contexts in which social work practice is located, and apply to practice settings.
  • analyse and critically evaluate current themes and issues in social work practice, and apply them to independent research and enquiry, using appropriate concepts and research evidence.
  • engage critically and creatively with theories, concepts and debates to inform and develop your professional practice.
  • become equipped with knowledge and understanding to analytically appraise and use evidence and research in decision-making and professional judgement about practice and practice change, and in the evaluation of outcomes.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • understand and critically apply concepts of rights, responsibility, freedom, authority and power and discuss ethical dilemmas faced by the social worker
  • understand and explain how good information sharing and communication skills contribute to effective multi-agency working and better outcomes for service users
  • explain the importance of a multi-agency approach to assessment and planning, and recognise the skills involved in assessing needs
  • understand and explain the contribution of a range of different services and professionals to the care and support of children and adults, and identify benefits and dilemmas in multi-agency working
  • demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of injustice, social inequalities and oppressive social relations and the capability to challenge discrimination and promote social inclusion and social justice
  • critically analyse and evaluate different theories of individual and social development, including those concerning identity and social functioning
  • critically reflect on the impact of law on social work practice and decision making within the context of the professional responsibility of social work and its mandate, social work values, anti-oppressive practice, service user and carers perspectives and international perspectives
  • critically evaluate relevant research and information to identify circumstances leading to risks of harm (including risk to self and colleagues), recognising the responsibilities of the social worker in protecting service users and the public and upholding the law
  • identify and evaluate different perspectives on mental health including social, psychological, medical, and the significance of service user and carer views
  • understand and explain the nature of effective practice skills relevant to the children and adults who use services
  • explain and critically evaluate the social work role in relation to working with different groups
  • demonstrate analytical appraisal of research methods and findings.

Cognitive skills

  • reflect critically upon practice learning and evaluate outcomes of actions
  • critically apply learning from study units to practice contexts
  • analyse and critically discuss ethical dilemmas
  • select appropriately and critically evaluate relevant information
  • demonstrate a conceptual understanding to be able to critically evaluate current research and in the discipline and apply knowledge to new or unfamiliar environments within a broad (multidisciplinary) context
  • articulate a comprehensive understanding and use of both the principle professional skills, and a range of specialised skills, techniques and practices applicable to their own research proposal 
  • critically appraise and use a range of evidence and sources of information to strategically lead on and develop a case for innovation and improvement.

Practical and/or professional skills

  • develop ethical working relationships with service users, carers, groups, colleagues and representatives from other agencies, showing respect for others and working in an analytical and structured way to deal with problems and resolve conflicts
  • understand the need for and develop ability in good communication with children, adults and those with particular communication needs
  • apply social work methods in order to achieve change, maintain stability, develop independence, improve life opportunities and promote wellbeing
  • help people to gain, regain or maintain control of their own lives, choices and decisions, insofar as this is compatible with their own or other’s safety, well-being and rights. develop the ability to challenge apparently unfair discrimination, culturally inappropriate responses and decisions that are not made with the best interests of service users in mind
  • with service users, carers, groups and communities, explore and evaluate support networks and contribute to their development
  • identify the need for statutory interventions, and act to minimise risk of harm to self, service users, carers, colleagues and the public
  • demonstrate critically reflective skills in assessment, intervention and decision making in relation to using the law and invoking legal powers including the perspectives of service users and carers.
  • demonstrate the ability to use evidence and research in decision making and professional judgement about practice and in the evaluation of outcomes. make decisions, plan creative responses to need, negotiating with others for services and resources and developing plans together with service users and carers
  • exercise authority constructively within complex frameworks of accountability and ethical and legal boundaries. review, record and evaluate actions within service Standards and codes of practice and conduct demonstrating professional accountability
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in professional practice and work in a transparent and responsible way, balancing autonomy with complex, multiple and sometimes contradictory accountabilities
  • understand and apply the skills of critical reflection, self-evaluation and consultation and use opportunities for professional supervision. design, implement and critically report on a chosen practice improvement project.

Key skills

  • demonstrate an ability to draw on and exploit a wide range of digital practices (including tools, resources and online networks) for scholarship and professional purposes, as appropriate to the subject/discipline/sector
  • demonstrate an ability to undertake critical evaluations of a wide range of numerical and graphical data as appropriate to the field of study
  • reflective writing: write text which demonstrates the ability to draw upon and evaluate practice experiences through appropriate application of theory, values and knowledge
  • demonstrate an ability to comprehend and produce a wide range of highly complex and technical written and spoken texts, for a comprehensive range of academic and professional purposes as appropriate to the subject/discipline/sector, employing language and literacy to engage with the expectations, practices and needs of specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • demonstrate the ability to search independently and fluently across a comprehensive range of information sources in any medium, including specialised information such as archives, data sets, special collections, colleagues and contacts in research networks
  • produce a synthesis of information from a range of diverse materials on a complex subject
  • strategically and critically communicate information and ideas about, and plans for, social work practice to a range of relevant social work audiences.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

The teaching and learning will be delivered both online and face to face and will enable you to progressively develop your knowledge, understanding and skills against the qualification learning outcomes. Digital and information literacy will be developed to support your acquisition of skills appropriate for postgraduate level.

The assessment strategy for the MA in Social Work is informed by HE expectations of the achievement of appropriate learning outcomes for students studying at this level, and the requirements of Social Work England (SWE) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

There are two main types of assessment: continuous assessment and different examinable components, which include the 2 assessed practice learning opportunities and the dissertation.

You will be required to demonstrate minimum levels of practice competency during this qualification in order to progress. Failure to meet the required standards may result in your removal from the module and/or qualification.

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