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Social Work (MA)

2 years (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Cardiff University has offered a 2-year full-time programme leading to an MA and a professional qualification in social work since September 2005. The course offers knowledge and expertise for career paths such as: Social Worker, Care Manager, Project Manager, Senior Project Manager, R&D Officer, and Service Development Officer.

Special Features

  • Teaching staff have a current practice and research background that keeps them up to date with developments in the field.
  • Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including essays, practice portfolios and reflective accounts.
  • Professional development stems from strong tutorial support, a research-led teaching environment and access to a range of placement opportunities in specialist fields.
  • Situated within the broader environment of the social sciences providing an informed and critical approach to the acquisition and appreciation of knowledge about the social context within which social work is practiced
  • Programme continues to meet CCW requirements with no conditions according to 5 year review
  • The University and School of Social Sciences, of which the Social Work group is a part, achieved highly in the recent REF exercise , representing research of international standing
  • Bursaries may be available from the Care Council for Wales, see 'Fees and Funding' section below for more information.
  • The opportunity to take part in student exchange (ERASMUS) and carry out some study abroad (currently Finland, Lithuania, Austria or Germany)

Course Description

The programme aims to enable students to build upon their existing academic and occupational experience and to achieve a professional qualification in social work within a 2 year (full-time) period. Although the programme is aimed primarily at graduates, in certain circumstances, the programme also provides a route for non-graduates to qualify as social workers.

In each year 100 days are spent in college and 100 days in practical learning placements. All students follow core modules during the first year with some specialism towards the end of year 2. All students undertake a dissertation and submit in year 2. All university and agency based teaching and learning is structured in accordance with the National Occupational Standards for Social Work and the requirements of the Care Council for Wales. The programme is delivered between early September and late July of each year with one week vacation periods at Christmas and Easter.

Alumni View

I had a wonderful time at Cardiff. I liked the fact that the course places a big emphasis on research because referring to research evidence is an imperative aspect of Social Work practice. The placement opportunities provided by Cardiff University as part of the Social Work MA are excellent and helped in my application for my current role.

Lucy O'Callaghan, Children's Services Practitioner for the NSPCC.
Read Lucy's full profile

Course Structure

Your time will be divided between formal study and undertaking practical learning placements. In the first year, students follow core modules. In the second year students choose a specialist pathway and will complete a dissertation.

First Year

The first year of the course consists of the following core units:

  • Foundations of Law
  • Introduction to Social Work Practice and Introduction to Social Work Theory
  • Social Science Perspectives
  • Social Work and Children, Young People and Families
  • Social Work with Adults
  • Principles of Research Design

Second Year

The second year consists of the following units:

  • Working in and across organisations
  • Social Work with Individuals, Families, Group and Communities
  • Research Processes/Dissertation
  • Workshop programme
  • Special Interest Group Area of Particular Practice. One of be chosen from the following:
    • Social Work with Children
    • Young People and Adults
    • Social Work with Adults

Entry Requirements

Suitable for graduates awarded a degree at 2:2 and above who have relevant employment or voluntary based social work experience, as well as a basic understanding of the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers. In accordance with Care Council for Wales programme approval criteria, applicants will need to refer to relevant social care experience and also hold GCSE, grade C or above (or equivalent) in maths and English at the time of application.

Candidates without a degree but with 2 or more years' relevant experience who can demonstrate the ability to study at Masters level, may be considered and might be asked to submit an essay to support this.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

What is ‘relevant experience’?

The following is not intended to be prescriptive or comprehensive, since social work is a dynamic field where new needs, responses and organisations are regularly developing. The examples given below are of work which is directly or partially relevant to social work are illustrative. The range of experience which students bring to the course is an important element in the learning process for all students.

The key elements we are looking for from a candidate is how the experience has enabled the candidate to gain an understanding of social work and social care and to demonstrate interest and commitment combined with practical experience. The experience should include:

  • Face to face (or telephone) work with people
  • Working with people in different emotional states
  • Problem solving and/or counselling skills
  • Responsibility and decision making
  • Some knowledge of the social work task, law and procedures
Directly relevant work

Any direct role involving social work skills, including residential social work, day care, community work, counselling and advice work, foster care, youth work, personal support work for disabled or older people, mental health nursing or care assistant work, work in schools for children with special needs where the role includes a high degree of pastoral care, support work in high support housing projects or hostels, monitoring of young people or others, working with self-help groups, supporting volunteers including organising training.

Partially relevant

Play group/nursery/crèche work, play scheme work, nursing home experience, teaching experience in ‘additional learning needs work, housing advice work, assisting in schools, basic skills tutoring, general nursing/nursing assistant work, general teaching.

If your experience is mainly in this category or work, you might have carried out projects more relevant to social work.

If you are still unsure about the relevance of your experience, please contact the admissions tutor on

Fees and Funding

Bursaries may be available from the Care Council for Wales (or NHS Business Service Authority) that will help with fees and living expenses during the course see CCW website or phone +44(0)29 2022 6257.


Applications must be made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) through their website or by telephoning 0371 468 0468.

The application form should include details of the essential qualifications outlined above, as well as a considered personal statement that demonstrates how the candidate has gained an understanding of social care and social work through their experience.

Candidates could also address their self-motivation in study, analytical skills and critical reasoning in their statement. An academic or practice related reference should also be included.

This application documentation should be submitted by the 15th January and will form the basis of the decision whether or not to call for interview.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in person in Cardiff in late February and March.

Please note: Applications made via the Online Application Service will not be accepted!

Applicants might find the Frequently Asked Questions website helpful.

Tuition Fees 2016/17

Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.

  UK & EU International
Full-time £7,500 n/a
Part-time n/a n/a
Deposit n/a Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Mr Abyd Quinn Aziz  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 0028 



School Contact

Name: Mrs Susan Hayes  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 4967  

Fax: +44 (0)29 2087 4175  


School Website:

More information

Funding Available

There are current funding opportunities for this course. Click here.

Important legal information

The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published on 2 March 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.