MA
21 months full time
Starts September 2017

Social Work

Benefit from a range of stimulating learning opportunities led by academic faculty, experienced practitioners and experts by experience (service users and carers).

Working within a supportive study environment, you develop crucial skills for independent and collaborative learning.

I believe the course combines research and practice in an effective way and has equipped me to undertake direct work with a range of service users.”Lucy Wilkinson
Social Work MA

Key facts

  • Social Work at Sussex is ranked 5th in the UK (The Guardian University Guide 2018).
  • Our relationships with local social welfare agencies are excellent. Joint projects include development, training and research initiatives.
  • The MA in Social Work has been validated by the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council), the regulator for social work, and enables graduates to register as social workers.

How will I study?

Assessment methods include essays, an examination, oral and visual presentations, a viva voce, placement reports, case studies and a 12,000-word dissertation.

All elements of the Social Work MA assessment are mandatory and you must pass them all. It is not possible to miss an aspect of course assessment on the grounds of illness and be awarded the Social Work MA on the basis of marks for the remaining aspects of assessment.

Work placement

You complete 200 practice development days, drawing on our excellent partnerships with local service users, carers and social work, social care and health agencies:

  • 170 days in two social work placements – both the 70-day placement and the 100-day placement are to be undertaken in Sussex local authorities. These are organised through the South Coast Regional Centre for Social Work Education (SCRC). Find out more about this pioneering social work education partnership.
  • 30 days of Practice Development Workshops delivered by experienced practitioners, academic faculty and experts by experience (service users and carers).

These specialist placement and learning pathways give you experience of both children’s and adults’ social work.

What will I study?

  • Module list – year 1

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Research Methods and Dissertation

      60 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      This module consists of two parts: a workshop sequence which introduces you to the idea of research-­mindedness in social work and research methods for evidence-­based practice, and guides your planning of a research proposal; and a supervision framework, which provides academic guidance and personal support during the process of approval of title and dissertation preparation.

    • Human Development and Social Relationships

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      The aim of this module is to provide an overview of key theories of human growth and development in the context of social relationships. In particular the module will: critically examine developmental and socio-cultural concepts, such as attachment, resilience, loss and change, identity and self in relation to their relevance to social work policy and practice, explore the social, political and professional contexts in which developmental pathways and social relationships are established, maintained and changed, especially in respect of the influence of class, 'race', gender, sexuality and disablement, consider these issues of selfhood in relation to others across the human life-course from conception to death.

    • Law and Social Policy

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module introduces the statutory and policy contexts of ethical social work practice. It provides the opportunity to: acquire knowledge about, and critically examine, the legal rules underpinning social work practice, acquire knowledge about and critically examine the policy and organisational context of social work, explore the contested and ambiguous dynamics of power and discrimination through which the values and ethics of social work are applied or negotiated within legal and policy frameworks, critically reflect on the process by which lawful, ethical and evidence-based judgements and decisions are made in social work practice in respect of questions of vulnerability, need, harm, risk, safety, protection and care.

    • Social Adversity, Risk and Resilience

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      In this module, you develop your understanding of the impact of various forms of social adversity on personal well-being and social relationships, within diverse family and cultural settings, and across the life course.

      Social adversity includes relationships of inequality and poverty, neglect and abuse and other forms of oppression and discrimination that harm, subordinate or marginalise people, undermining their human rights, social citizenship and wider well-being.

      Taking a life-course perspective, you're encouraged to explore the ways in which mental and physical health, well-being and social opportunity are harmed by experiences of discrimination, abuse and neglect within parenting, care-giving and other social relationships across the life course.

      As part of the module, you critically consider approaches to understanding and assessing the causes and likely consequences of harmful relationships, with an emphasis on supporting resilient responses to risk and harm and in maximising life opportunities.

      You pay particular attention to how social workers can make sense of the causes and consequences of common forms of harmful behaviour, including violence and substance misuse, within the wider social and cultural context.

      This understanding is designed to enhance capability in child and adult safeguarding and protection, which is at the heart of much of contemporary social work practice.

    • Social Work Practice 1

      0 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The Social Work Practice 1 placement provides the opportunity to gain required experience of direct practice and learning in the social work role in one social work practice setting and to reflect critically on this experience. The social work practice teaching and supervision enables you to maximise your learning from both personal experience, theoretical literature and empirical research relevant to the practice setting

      This will include opportunities for skills teaching and development including the opportunity to develop competence and values in practice towards the standard required for registration as a qualified social work practitioner. Your practice will be informed and developed according to the principles of valuing diversity and equalities awareness that underpin ethical and effective social work. This module will give you the opportunity to understand and experience the inter-professional context of partnership working in social work practice.

    • Theory, Methods and Values in Practice 1

      30 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines the nature of the contemporary social work role and task. It draws in particular upon psycho-social and ecological perspectives to explore in detail the relationship between individuals experiencing difficulties and their social and economic environments.

      You will have the opportunity to consider the process of identity formation for people who use services and the relationship between this and the external environments in which difficulties arise. You will increase your own self awareness and explore the ways in which they can build effective relationships with people who use services, utilising a strengths based approach to effect change in a variety of circumstances. You will also critically examine the nature and role of contemporary social work including an exploration of power, oppression and policy formation and implementation, and obtain a clear appreciation of the complexities and ambiguities of the contexts in which social work takes place. A consideration of social work values and ethics runs throughout this module and will be integrated into the teaching as will a focus upon developing a research minded approach to your work. You will also examine recent changes to social work practice and current themes, including risk, working in partnership, user involvement.

  • Module list – year 2

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Organisations and Inter-professional Practice

      15 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 2

      In this module, you examine theory and research to help prepare you for the contemporary organisational settings you will work in, and inter-professional working relationships you will form.

      You will develop an understanding of how core social work roles and tasks are undertaken effectively in an inter-agency context, where coordinated professional responses are required. You also go on an organisational observation.

      You are trained to meet the professional capability standards set out in The College of Social Work Professional Capabilities Framework. 

      You learn to: 

      • adapt to changing contexts that shape practice
      • operate effectively within own organisational frameworks
      • contribute to the development of services and organisations
      • operate effectively within multi-agency and inter-professional settings.
    • Social Work Practice 2

      0 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 2

      This module is directly linked with the second practice placement (SWP2). It provides the opportunity for the further consolidation and extension of knowledge and understanding of social work roles and tasks and the development of skill and competence in social work practice. In line with GSSC and CWDC policy it enables practice to become increasingly specialised in the chosen setting.

      The placement provides: the opportunity to gain additional experience of direct practice and learning in the social work role in a social work practice setting that differs from Social Work Practice 1, and to reflect critically on this experience; social work practice teaching and supervision that enables maximisation of learning from both personal experience, theoretical literature and empirical research relevant to the practice setting. This will include opportunities for skills teaching and development; the opportunity to further develop competence and values in practice towards the standard required for registration as a qualified social work practitioner; the chance to further inform practice with the principles of valuing diversity and equalities awareness that underpin ethical and effective social work by doing so in a second practice setting and with a different group of people using the service; the opportunity to understand and experience the inter-professional context of partnership working in social work practice in that second setting.

    • Theory, Methods and Values in Practice 2

      30 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 2

      This module is directly linked with the first practice placement (SWP1). The focus here is on the nature of the contemporary social work role and tasks. Drawing in particular on psycho-social and ecological perspectives it will enable students to:

      • consider the process of identity formation for people who use services and the relationship between this and the external environments in which difficulties arise
      • increase their own self awareness and explore the ways in which they can build effective relationships with people who use services, utilising a strengths based approach to assess needs and effect change in a variety of circumstances
      • critically examine the nature and role of contemporary social work including an exploration of power, oppression and policy formation and implementation
      • obtain a clear appreciation of the complexities and ambiguities of the contexts in which social work takes place.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above; six to nine months of relevant practice experience; GCSE Mathematics and English (or equivalent) at grade C or above.

Requests for accreditation of prior learning (APL) will be considered on an individual basis. The Department of Social Work and Social Care will consider not only whether the applicant has accumulated the required number of credits at an appropriate level, but also the specific knowledge, subject content and learning outcomes required for the stage of our course to which they are applying. Applicants seeking APL will be required to show evidence of their prior learning.

The admissions procedure consists of three steps:
1. Submit your application online via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The course code is L508. The initial deadline for applications is 15 January 2017 (though late applications
are considered);
2. complete additional documentation and provide an extended personal statement;
3. attend a Selection Day and participate in group tasks and an individual interview.

Assessing suitability for professional study
You must disclose information pertaining to any criminal convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands prior to interview in accordance with Health and Care Professions Council guidance. Enhanced checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and a satisfactory health check are also required prior to commencement of studies.

English language requirements

Higher level (IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa


Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?

Fees

Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans

Scholarships

Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor's Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor's Masters Scholarship

PGCE First-Generation Scholars Award (2017)

£600 maintenance award to PGCE students with a household income below £42,875

Find out more about the PGCE First-Generation Scholars Award

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Faculty

Meet the people teaching and supervising on your course.

  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Henglien Chen
    Lecturer in Social Work
    H.L.Chen@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: ageing care policy and practice: cross country comparison, ageing care service provisions, ageing care workforce, family carer for older people, gerontology social work

    View profile

    Dr Kristine Hickle
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care
    K.Hickle@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: childhood and youth, Groups, groupwork, human trafficking, sexual violence, Social work, Trauma

    View profile

    Ms Sharon Lambley
    Lecturer in Social Work
    S.Lambley@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Social work

    View profile

    Dr Michelle Lefevre
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work & Care
    M.Lefevre@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: child protection, child well-being, Communication, psychoanalysis, Social work

    View profile

    Mr Barry Luckock
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work & SocialPolicy
    B.A.Luckock@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Social work

    View profile

    Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic
    Senior Lecturer In Social Work And Social Care
    R.A.Maglajlic@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Mental Health, Participatory Design, participatory methods, radical social work, Social rights and social justice, social welfare reform, social work and political conflict, social work and social development

    View profile

    Dr Tish Marrable
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care
    L.F.Marrable@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Autism and Social Care, Bereavement, disability, Emotion in professional practice, Social work, Supervision

    View profile

    Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
    Senior Lecturer
    S.Nolas@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: action research, childhood and youth, children's participation, children's social policy, children's welfare, public life, qualitative research methods, social action, Social work, youth inclusion, youth policy

    View profile

    Dr David Orr
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work
    D.Orr@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: adult protection, adult safeguarding, Andean studies, anthropology of the Andes, cinema and dementia, Dementia, ethnography, Global Mental Health, medical anthropology, Mental Health

    View profile

    Prof Gillian Ruch
    Professor of Social Work
    G.Ruch@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Social work

    View profile

    Prof Elaine Sharland
    Professor of Social Work Research
    E.Sharland@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Knowledge generation - Co-Creation, Research design and methodology, Responsibilities to children, Social work, Youth

    View profile

    Prof Rachel Thomson
    Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies
    R.Thomson@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Social behaviour, Sociology

    View profile

    Dr Denise Turner
    Lecturer In Social Work And Social Care
    D.M.Turner@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Autoethnography, Change, Child Death, Creative practice, Death Education, Digital practices, Loss, Service User narratives, Social Media

    View profile

    Prof Charles Watters
    Professor of Wellbeing and Social Care
    C.Watters@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Asylum seeking, Children and migration, medical anthropology, Mental Health and Well-Being, Refugees and asylum, Social work, well-being

    View profile

    Dr Russell Whiting
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Care
    R.Whiting@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Alternative Spiritualities/New Religious Movements, Church History & History Of Theology, Modern British history, Social work

    View profile

Careers

Graduate destinations

100% of students from the Department of Social Work and Social Care were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent graduates have gone on to roles such as:

  • manager, East Sussex Council
  • social worker, Partnerships in Care
  • social worker, Brighton & Hove Council.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

Our graduates have gone on to work in the field of professional social work and are highly sought after by employers, working with children and families and in adult social care.

Many pursue learning through continuing professional development courses and progress to take leadership roles in the profession.

Other awards associated with the Social Work MA

The course may lead to any one of four awards:

  • Applied Social Care PGDip, with satisfactory completion of all elements of the course except the placements and dissertation
  • Applied Social Care MA, with satisfactory completion of all elements of the course except the placements
  • Social Work PGDip, with satisfactory completion of all elements of the course except the dissertation
  • Social Work MA, with satisfactory completion of all elements of the course.

Only successful completion of the Social Work MA or PGDip entitles you to register with the Health and Care Professions Council as a social worker.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work