MA Social Work

Full Time
Degree of Master of Arts-Social Work Accreditation

Key facts

Accredited by Social Work England


Find out how you can gain paid or voluntary work experience in a social work or social care environment.

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Life as a student in the School of Social Work

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The Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF) is at the forefront of research on vulnerable children, parenting and family change.

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Child death and serious harm through maltreatment affects everyone, from the media to practitioners and the public. Professor marian brandon and her team are leading ground-breaking research examining the most serious cases of child abuse and neglect for the government.

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Study social work at one of the most highly regarded centres in the UK, internationally renowned for its leading role in social work education and research. You will graduate with a professional qualification and a body of knowledge and skills that open up a wide range of exciting, rewarding and challenging employment opportunities.

You should already have gained some prior experience of working with people, in a paid or voluntary capacity. Our MA Social Work will build on this background, providing an academically rigorous and stimulating environment for your development.

You will develop your skills as a future social worker through teaching that emphasises reflective and relationship-based practice, combined with challenging and thought-provoking placement opportunities in a wide range of settings provided by our local partner agencies.


This programme is ideal whether you have already done some study related to social care, or are new to the field.

Our course will teach you about the theoretical foundations of social work, which are rooted in psychology and sociology. You will explore social policy and the laws surrounding working with children and families, people with mental health issues, and vulnerable adults. And you’ll focus on what it means to work with individuals, families, groups, fellow social workers and other professionals.

We are part of a government-funded Social Work Teaching Partnership with Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils and the University of Suffolk, ensuring that you’ll benefit from close links between teaching, research and practice, now and in your future career. Our graduates are highly regarded by local employers and many of our students choose to begin their careers with our partners, through the links that start while they are on their student placements. 

Due to the nature of the course, you will need to complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service screening. You will also need to provide two references: one regarding your academic achievements, and the second telling us about your experience in work or helping people. You must also inform us about any major health concerns that could affect your studies.

The MA Social Work at UEA is accredited by the Social Work England standards. 

Course Structure

Your learning will take many forms – lectures, seminars, group discussions, tutorials and workshops, simulated practice, and recorded role plays to help you learn from them. Our teaching foregrounds current practice and the experiences of those involved. You will benefit from professionals, services users and carers being at the heart of our teaching.

We combine teaching that emphasises reflective and relationship-based practice with excellent placement opportunities. In your first year you’ll take the Professional Theory and Practice module, which includes a 70-day placement. You’ll also study the Legal and Social Policy Context of Social Work, and complete the module Working with Service Users 1.

In your final year you’ll take the Professional Development module which includes a 100 day placement. You’ll also deepen your understanding through the Working with Service Users 2 module. Finally, you’ll have the chance to study a topic of your choosing in-depth by completing a dissertation, with the support of one of our academic advisors.

Teaching and Learning

World leading internationally excellent research

Our research-based teaching means you gain direct insight into the latest social work issues and evidence-based practice. Many of our lecturers are actively involved in research and in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) UEA was ranked fourth in the UK for overall research quality in Social Work and Social Policy (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis). Over 90% of research in this area was classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Experts in practice

As well as being taught by leading researchers, the course incorporates significant involvement of current practitioners and people who have used social work services. They are vital to everything the School is involved in, from admissions to continuing professional development.

Placement learning

Your training at UEA will feature a significant amount of practice-based learning: 170 days on placement and 30 days of practice skills development. This means you will gain invaluable and extensive real-life work experience in at least two different placement settings. While on placement, you will work closely with a qualified practice educator. They will guide and assess your practice as you learn to put theory into action.

Independent study

As a Master’s level course, you will be responsible for a significant amount of independent study. Your dissertation involves an independent piece of research. This will help you develop confidence in analysis of information as well as skills such as time management and organisation.

Academic advising and support

At UEA, we pride ourselves on the support we provide our students. As part of this, you will have an academic adviser tutor, who will take an active interest in your professional development while at UEA. While on placement, you’ll maintain a close link with your academic adviser, and have regular ‘call back’ days, where you return to UEA.


We are committed to the continued development of our teaching quality. We provide you with access to a number of quality-control channels, including student feedback, debriefing meetings, and the Staff-Student Liaison Committee, to help us monitor, evaluate and develop our current practice.


You will be assessed for each module. Your assessments will vary depending on the module, but could include essays, recorded role pay and submitting a portfolio of evidence-based work. 

During each module you will be able to take practice or ‘formative’ assessments. These assessments give you the opportunity to reflect on your performance and learn from the tutor feedback in preparation for the formal ‘summative’ assessment at the end of the module.

You’ll need to pass your summative assessments in your first year before you can progress to your second year.

You will receive ongoing support and guidance when studying for your dissertation, which is considered to be a summative assessment in the second year. 


After the course

Many of our graduates work in local authority children’s or adults’ services and NHS Mental Health Trusts.

As a social worker, you could work with a wide range of service users and carers. You might focus on child protection, work with young people in care and care leavers, children and adults with disabilities, foster carers or adopters, people with dementia, those with drug and alcohol addictions, and people with mental health problems. You will also work with a wide range of other professionals – teachers, health visitors, police, doctors, psychiatrists and community nurses.

You must be registered to work as a social worker in England. Our degree is accredited by the Social Work England standards and offers a dual qualification, academic and professional, so you will be able to apply to register with them (or their successor) as a social worker as soon as you graduate.

The success of our graduates has earned us an excellent reputation for employment. We work alongside our local authority partners to offer advice and information to help you get the job you want. We also work closely with UEA Careers Service, who offer workshops and information sessions so you can get your career off to the best start.

Career destinations

  • Local Authorities (e.g. Children and Adult services)
  • Charity and Voluntary sector (e.g. NSPCC and Age UK)
  • Health settings (e.g. NHS mental health trusts and hospitals)
  • Private sector (e.g. residential homes, fostering and adoption agencies)

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of additional course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 90 credits:

Name Code Credits

Legal and Social Policy Context of Social Work

This year-long module will introduce you to basic legal knowledge and policy concepts, to enable you to make sense of social work practice in its wider policy and legal context, and to use law confidently in your practice. There are two teaching elements within it, one focusing on the law and the other on social policy, but the themes cut across them both - for example, themes about human rights, individual freedom and choice, public welfare, social workers' powers and duties, the grounds for state intervention in family life. The ideas and information covered in the module will also provide you with frameworks to help you make sense of the legal, policy and organisational context of your Level 1 and Level 2 practice placements.



Professional Theory and Practice I

This module will provide you with a year long introduction to the theory and practice of social work as a foundation for the rest of the programme, and especially the first placement. You'll learn to develop skills and knowledge in preparation for social work practice. You'll learn about building professional relationships and the significance of yourself in this process. You'll also learn about effective communication, understanding the context and perspective of service user experience together with a range of theoretical bases for making professional sense and judgements in social work practice.




Develop specific and in-depth skills for practice on this module, which includes a minimum 70 day period of assessed practice and, after placement, gives you an opportunity to integrate learning from practice with the further study of social work theory and methods. In preparation for the placement, you will follow teaching sequences in social work with children and families, social work with adults and understanding mental illness and disability. After the placement, links between practice and theory are strengthened through further teaching, including a focus on social work values and higher level skills for practice. The placement is assessed on a pass/fail basis and students are you will be required to pass the placement in order to proceed to year 2 of the course. You will also submit a case study as a piece of course work arising from this placement. Each element of the unit is separately assessed and must be passed in order to complete the module.



Students must study the following modules for 90 credits:

Name Code Credits


This module is only available to students on the MA in Social Work course. The dissertation is based on a literature review around a topic relevant to social work that is chosen by you. The production of a dissertation enables you to expand your knowledge and understanding of a topic relevant to social work practice and theory and to develop your understanding of research methods and methodologies. Teaching consists of an introductory session for the whole year group, dissertation seminars over four weeks in small groups, during which students present their developing ideas and one-to-one supervision from an allocated dissertation supervisor. The length of the dissertation is 9,000 words.




On this module you'll build on the professional skills, knowledge, values and practice you developed in the first year of the MA Social Work course. You'll undertake your second level placement as part of this module and will cultivate your observation and analytical skills by organising and taking part in a series of observations of a young child at nursery. You'll also learn about some discreet areas of knowledge linked to social work practice and advance your skills in making sense of your work both as a practitioner and as part of the organisation in which you are placed.




Within this module, you may choose to focus on the study of social work with children and families or social work with adults (for example older people, people with disabilities or mental illness). You must attend teaching on at least two service-user groups but you will have the opportunity to attend more if you wish. Assessment is by means of coursework, where you will be given a choice of titles, focusing on practice with different user groups within social work. Please note this module is available to students on the MA in Social Work course.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • Secure Base

    Research from the School of Social Work is having international impact and improving the lives of children in Europe, China and Thailand.

    Read it Secure Base
  • Alumni Case Study

    Emily Tiplady-Ead studied BA Social Work at UEA and has since won the national award 'Childrens Social Worker of the Year 2016'.

    Read it Alumni Case Study

    Your University questions, answered.

    Read it #ASKUEA

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Any Subject
  • Degree Classification 2.1 or equivalent. A 2:2 may be considered with relevant work experience.
  • Alternative Qualifications Please contact

Entry Requirement

GCSE Requirements: GCSE English Language grade 4 and GCSE Mathematics grade 4 or GCSE English Language Grade C and GCSE Mathematics Grade C.

Following initial screening an 800-1000 word essay will be requested and has to be submitted, prior to consideration for an interview. Details will be provided.   We also require suitability and health forms to be completed.   Full instruction for the essay will be sent to applicants at the time of request. 


Students for whom English is a Foreign language

Applications from students whose first language is not English are welcome. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.5 in each component)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

We also accept a number of other English language tests. Please click here to see our full list.

INTO University of East Anglia

If you do not meet the English requirements for direct entry, our partner, INTO University of East Anglia, offers a range of pre-sessional English courses to help you develop the high level of English skills necessary for successful postgraduate study.


The first part of the admissions day consists of an observed group activity. The activity will be observed by members of the interview panel and may involve a university lecturer, social work practitioner or manager and a carer of user of social services and gives you an opportunity to participate and communicate in a group. The group will consist of 2 – 6 social work applicants and your group members may vary in age and experience.  However, the focus of the activity is on how you participate and communicate during the task and not your specific knowledge or experience and there is no ‘right’ answer for this activity. 

Later in the day the interview will last around 40 minutes and the interview panel is made up of a University lecturer, a Social Work practitioner or manager and carer or user of Social Services where possible. The interview will enable the panel to look at your personal background and circumstances, essay and group activity participation and your understanding of Social Work, your current studies and your suitability for the programme.

Gap Year

We do not accept applications for a Gap Year for this programme, any offer made will be for the current admissions cycle.

Special Entry Requirements


All applicants are required to have gained at least 6 months paid or voluntary work experience of helping people and working with others in a Social Work/Social Care environment Work Experience Leaflet.

If shortlisted and invited to interview, applicants will be required to provide an additional reference. This should be a professional reference providing details of your ability in a caring/helping capacity, to complement your academic reference provided on the UCAS application.


Applicants are asked to declare that they will seek appropriate advice and treatment in the management of any health conditions that they have.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The course you are applying for is ‘exempt’ from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and therefore, you are required to declare any convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings that are not ‘protected’ (i.e. filtered out) as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013) on your UCAS application.

The amendments to the Exceptions Order provide that certain ‘spent’ convictions and cautions are 'protected' and are not subject to disclosure, and cannot be taken into account.  Guidance and criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service Website. Further information can also be found on the Nacro website

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check
All applicants who have been offered a place to study the MA course will be required to obtain a new DBS Enhanced Disclosure.

Our admissions policy is in line with the standards of Social Work England and the programme is endorsed by The College of Social Work (TCSW) having met the social work professional quality criteria. 


The School’s annual intake is in September of each year.

Bursary Information

You can apply for a NHS Bursary.  Following completion of interviews in the admissions cycle, UEA will shortlist all MA offer holders for a NHS Bursary. All applicants are notified via email from UEA once this is completed by the end of July.  Entitlement to the bursary will depend on the applicant's eligibility as determined by the NHS Bursary Authority.

Course Open To

UK and EU students.  Please also note that the Social Work programmes at UEA are primarily designed for students who live in England and intend to practice as social workers in England after they qualify.  We give priority to such applicants in our selection process.  Additionally, it an advantage in the selection process if an applicant's experience of helping people and/or employment is in England.

Fees and Funding

Fees for 2020 entry are:

•    UK/EU Students: £6,500* (full-time)

* for each year of the course

Living Expenses
Approximately £7,500 living expenses will be needed to adequately support yourself.

Scholarships and Funding
Students undertaking Social Work programmes may also be eligible to receive a Department of Health Postgraduate Bursary administered by the NHS Business Services Authority. The Postgraduate Bursary is available to students ordinarily resident in England studying on an approved full-time postgraduate course. The Bursary consists of a non-income-assessed basic grant that varies in value, a contribution towards expenses related to practice learning opportunities (placements) and a contribution towards tuition fees. It also includes an income-assessed maintenance grant that varies in value and income-assessed allowances of various values to assist with certain costs of living, as recipients of the postgraduate bursary ordinarily will not be entitled to LA funding. NB: Financial awards are dependent on individual circumstances.

The Graduate Trainee Scheme is run in conjunction with Suffolk County Council. It is aimed at graduates who have the potential for a career in social work, but lack sufficient relevant experience to enrol straight onto the MA Programme. The dates will change for the current year, if the scheme is running.  It will also be advertised in the local press. 

How to Apply


Applications will need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.  Please note for operational reasons, the MA Social Work course requires applicants to apply via the UCAS Undergraduate Apply route.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom.  It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once.  The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

Please complete our Online Enquiry Form to request a prospectus and to be kept up to date with news and events at the University. 

    Next Steps

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