Social Work MA

Postgraduate (2 years full-time)

Chelmsford, Cambridge


Apply through UCAS

UK students

We also welcome applications from students from Ireland, and EU, EEA and Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK.


Our full-time Social Work Masters degree course combines in-depth professional training and tuition with high-quality practice placements. Graduate from ARU and you’ll be eligible to register as a qualified social worker.

Full description


You could build a career in the various branches of professional social work, including children’s services, adult services, mental health services, youth offending, residential social care and providing advocacy and support for vulnerable groups.

Modules & assessment

Please note that the Social Work degree will be revalidated for September 2021, which will result in module changes. The modules shown here are for September 2020.

Year one, core modules

  • Assessed Readiness for Direct Practice
    An intensive practical skills based module which takes place for 3 days per week for the first 6 weeks of the course. Students will need to attend these day and pass the practical assessment in order to progress to the first placement.
  • Social Work Knowledge, Values and Skills
    This module provides an introduction to the underpinning theory for the knowledge, values and skills that a Social Work student will require during their practice. It will run alongside the new module, Assessed Readiness for Direct Practice (ARDP).. As ARDP will provide opportunities for practising required skills, this module will enable students to learn, evaluate and critique the theories that underpin professional social work practice. It will be an opportunity for students to understand how social work as a profession fits into the wider political and social context, aspects of statutory, voluntary and private contributions to the social care field, the perspective of service users and carers and the wide range of theories and skills that are utilised in professional social work.
  • Well-being across the Life Course in a Diverse Society
    Understanding what influences people's 'well-being' is a key element in working safely and effectively in social work. This module provides an opportunity for you to examine the various factors that influence well-being. In doing so, it promotes a holistic approach to well-being to enable you to understand the broader socio-economic context in which social work takes place and to develop critical perspectives on interventions which take the various sociological and psychological factors that affect service users' well-being into account. This necessarily includes exploring critically the perspectives of service users and carers.
  • Developing Professional Social Work Practice
    Social workers need to be able to communicate thoughtfully and effectively within the context of professional and inter-professional relationships. This module therefore looks at the principles of good communication, barriers to communication and how to overcome them, as well as various useful communication tools. Linking closely to other modules in the course, this module will also help develop to critical and reflective thinking about how to put these and other skills, knowledge and values into practice. The module therefore includes sessions on: communication, reflection, anti-discriminatory practice, assessing risk and working in partnership with service users and other professionals/agencies. Placement In addition to attending special 'skills day' after which you will be assessed as 'ready for direct practice', you will also undertake 70 days of practice placement during year 1.

Year two, core modules

  • Analytical Thinking and Decision-Making in Professional Social Work
    This module provides a critical examination of key aspects of professional decision-making in social work. As part of this, it invites study of both the principles underpinning and the skills required for effective assessment and intervention in diverse areas of social work, including risk and risk management. Building on the knowledge and skills gained in Year 1, this module further encourages students to reflect critically and analytically on how to practice in ways that are anti-discriminatory and inclusive of service-user perspectives.
  • Powers, Duties and Accountability in Professional Social Work
    The aim of this module is to examine the legal and professional context that underpins the provision of social welfare services and is intended to enable you to examine and evaluate the sources of your power and structures of accountability as a local authority social worker. In addition, the module will give priority and emphasis to duties relating to the safeguarding of children and other vulnerable groups. The module will explore the quality assurance mechanisms which apply to professional social work practice, as well as the responsibilities and role boundaries inherent within multi-disciplinary and multi-agency models of working.
  • Dissertation
    The Dissertation is of central importance to the Social Work Masters award during which the student will be expected to bring together aspects of learning from previous modules as well as using this learning as the basis for planning, conducting and writing up a research or work-based project of a maximum of 10,000 words. The dissertation is a mainly self-directed module, giving students the opportunity to explore in-depth a topic which they are particularly interested in. Support for students through a series of workshops and via the supervision group. The workshops cover topics such as research ethics, qualitative research methods (e.g. date collectoi8n and data analysis). Students will also be allocated to a supervision group and are expected to liaise closely with their supervisor in developing and completing their project There are, in addition, introductory workshops at the end of the first year. In the course of your studies with us you may generate intellectual property which is defined as an idea, invention or creation which can be protected by law from being copied by someone else. By registering with us on your course you automatically assign any such intellectual property to us unless we agree with the organisation covering the cost of your course that this is retained by them. In consideration of you making this assignment you will be entitled to benefit from a share in any income generated in accordance with our Revenue Sharing Policy in operation at that time. Details of our Intellectual Property Policy and Guidelines can be found on 'MyAnglia' under Research, Development & Commercial Services or by contacting this Office for a hard copy.

Core modules available in all years

  • Placement
    You will also undertake a 100-day practice placement during year 2.

You will complete the core modules detailed above. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change.


We’ll assess you for your Master’s degree through academic assignments, practice debriefs and the portfolios you’ll build up, detailing your professional development.

Your final piece of work will be a Dissertation, which must be a substantial, research-based piece of work that demonstrates your knowledge, ideas and professional skills.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us.

How to pay your fees directly

Social work bursary

You may be eligible for a social work bursary in the first and second year of your degree. It can help with living and travel costs and doesn't have to be repaid.

The Social Work Team nominates students for the bursary using our own nomination criteria, and you must also meet the separate eligibility criteria of the Department of Health and Social Care.

There are a limited number of bursaries available each year and the process is competitive. We consider your score at interview and attendance from week 1 of the course.

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Due to national restrictions all universities in England, including ARU, are only able to provide face to face teaching on campus for a limited number of courses.

Teaching options

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic all our students can choose to either study face to face on campus or online only, and students are able to change their mode of delivery at given dates throughout the trimester.

For on-campus teaching, we offer at least four hours face-to-face teaching related contact time per week for our undergraduate full-time courses, supported by online learning using our established online learning systems. The number of contact hours vary course by course, and you can contact us for further information. The provision offered is subject to change due to the possibility of further Government restrictions, however we remain committed to delivering face-to-face teaching and ensuring a COVID-19 secure environment.

In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic, we may need to move some courses online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.

View the impact of the current restrictions.

International students

This course is not currently available to international students. You may be interested in our MSc Social Welfare and Social Policy degree as an alternative.

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