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MSc Social Work Studies

Gain the skills necessary for professional practice as a social worker. We’re ranked joint 1st in UK for Social Work (National Student Survey 2017).

Social Work Studies

The Scottish Social Services Council accreditation

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date January
  • Duration MSc full-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study Full-time, Campus based
  • Accreditations Scottish Social Services Council

This course provides you with an integrated academic and professional course which develops the intellectual and practical skills necessary for professional practice as a social worker.

We promote an understanding of social work which is informed by social justice and human rights, a profession that acknowledges the links between 'public issues' and 'private troubles' and seeks to address both. We value social work practice that has prevention at its heart and recognises the importance of collective approaches, actively engaging with and learning from user movements.

Our course is taught by qualified social workers including world leaders in their research field, and academics who maintain close connections with practice. You'll experience inspirational contributions to teaching by people who have used social work services, as well as from practicing social workers.

You’ll enjoy the benefits of smaller class sizes (30 to 65 students) with creative approaches to teaching and assessment as well as detailed feedback on your progress. On your practice placements, you’ll be supported and assessed by Practice Educators who are qualified or undertaking their Practice Educator training.

At the end of your studies, you’ll qualify as a social worker who is knowledgeable, skilled, analytical and ethical in your approach to working with individuals, families, groups and communities.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Professional accreditations

    Successful completion of this course will mean you’re eligible to be registered by the Scottish Social Services Council as a qualified social worker.

    The MSc is awarded on satisfactory completion of a dissertation undertaken at the end of the Diploma course. Both degrees are recognised throughout the UK.

  • Work placements

    You’ll undertake two full-time supervised practice placements which give you the opportunity for classroom-based teaching to be applied in practice. You’ll be supported and assessed by Practice Educators who are qualified or undertaking their Practice Educator training. We’re fortunate to have strong connections with our partner agencies within a 60-mile radius of the University. They provide a range of placements across both statutory and voluntary social work services.

  • Research

    In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework:

    • 24% of our overall research activity was assessed to be world-leading
    • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading
    • 99% of our outputs were assessed to be internationally recognised, internationally excellent or world leading
    • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
    • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world leading or internationally excellent
    • The work of more than 90% of our researchers was assessed
    • We were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK
    • We ranked 17th overall in the UK and 3rd in Scotland for our research, with a grade point average of 3.01 (out of 4).

    The Faculty of Social Sciences has attracted considerable sums of external research funding from Research Councils, Government, independent and charitable funders, and from the European Commission.

  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Practical experience in a social care setting is essential. Registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is a requirement for commencing and remaining on the programme (further information on how to apply will be provided to successful applicants who accept a place on the course). Enrolled students must also be a member of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme.

  • Application procedure

    Applicants should apply via the UCAS website.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
    • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
    • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

    More information on our English language requirements

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

The taught course consists of nine modules which include two periods of assessed practice. All students have a personal tutor during the course. During Semesters Two and Four you’ll undertake a placement in full-time supervised practice. The dissertation period, during which empirical research is undertaken and written up, is three months (full-time) or six months (part-time).

Modules

The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

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Course Details

  • Teaching

    The course is delivered through lectures incorporating small group discussion, student-led project work, and micro-skills teaching workshops.

    The course is run in partnership with statutory and non-statutory agencies in Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh City, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.

    Your learning is greatly assisted by the contribution to teaching and practice learning of staff from local voluntary and statutory agencies. You’ll also benefit from contributions by service users and carers and from the range of research and teaching interests within the Faculty of Social Sciences, in which Social Work is located. Particular strengths include community care, criminal justice, children and families, skills teaching, values and comparative approaches. 

  • Assessment

    A wide range of assessment methods is used:

    • essays
    • analytical accounts of practice
    • filmed assessment of practice skills
    • class presentations
    • an oral examination on social work practice
    • an assessment of the two practice learning opportunities
  • Classroom hours

    You’ll attend classes on campus for three full days per week, plus online participation.

  • Course director
  • Key staff

    Staff are all qualified social workers with a strong commitment to the profession in terms of teaching and research. This is demonstrated by membership of a range of international and national social work organisations within the staff group. Additionally, we have partnerships with local agencies that facilitate exchange of knowledge between academia and practice. As a result we have strong representation of practitioners and other agency staff on our assessment boards and in teaching.

  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)

      2018/19

    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £4,700 (PgDip for each year of study)

    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.

    £13,650 (PgDip for each year of study)

    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships

    Currently, bursaries are available from the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) for Postgraduate Social Work students. Applicants who are offered and accept a place will be given information about applying for a bursary. Please note that the University of Stirling is not responsible for allocating these. Further information about this funding can be found on the SSSC website. Please note that the current bursary covers most of the fee for the course, however there is a shortfall for which you’ll be responsible.

    Other sources of funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances. That’s why we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities available.

    To explore our scholarships and learn more about funding opportunities, use our scholarship finder.

  • Additional costs

    You’ll be charged a £500 fee if you want to continue onto the MSc. This will be charged at the point of continuation from the Postgraduate Diploma.

    If you choose to attend your graduation ceremony, you will be liable for an additional charge. There is no charge if you wish to graduate in absentia. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support. .

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma or the MSc provides the ‘licence to practise’ as a qualified social worker registered with the regulatory council of the country in which you work. You can work in community-based teams, hospitals, day and residential centres and voluntary agency projects. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it is also the qualification for social work in prisons and criminal justice teams.

The nature of the work is extremely varied and there is the capacity to move between different work settings throughout your career.

Currently, over 80 percent of students find social work jobs within six months of graduating.

  • Testimonial quotes

    It has been my experience and that of my practice teaching colleagues that social work students coming from Stirling are of exceptional calibre and bring with them a high level of knowledge and skills which they appear to easily transfer to practice. This of course has been enabled by the quality of teaching that they receive from both tutors and practitioners who are involved in various aspects of the course prior to students undertaking a practice learning opportunity.

    Vivian Fitzsimmons
    Practice Teacher/Coordinator, Falkirk Council

  • Employability skills

    The MSc/PgDip Social Work Studies is a professional course which requires you to undertake two practice placements, along with your academic modules. It's on these placements that you'll gain experience in direct work with service users and learn essential transferrable skills for your future employment within the social work profession.

    During the course you'll also gain experience of presentation skills, research methodology, as well as being taught specific and relevant skills to prepare you for employment in a variety of social work settings. 

  • Companies we work with

    The course is run in partnership with statutory and non-statutory agencies in Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh City, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.

    We’re fortunate to have strong connections with our partner agencies within a 60-mile radius of the University. They contribute to the teaching on the course and provide a range of placements across both statutory and voluntary social work services. Examples of these are the local authorities in Forth Valley, Fife, and Perth and Kinross, and voluntary agencies such as Barnardos and Multi-Cultural Family Base.

    University of Stirling Social Work Service Users and Carers’ Group; “UNITY”,  was established in 2005 in recognition of the important contribution that people who use services have to make to social work education. UNITY members are involved in many aspects of the Social Work Studies postgraduate course including direct teaching and selection processes. They have produced a DVD for teaching purposes, have contributed to University wide awareness raising events for World Mental Health Day and made a significant contribution to a successful Inter-University conference on Service User and Carer involvement in professional education which was hosted by the University of Stirling. The group is also a founder member of the Scottish Inter-University Social Work Service Users and Carers’ Network. Further information about Unity can be found on their web page.

Looking back from when I first started the course, I believe I have developed immensely both as an individual and a professional social worker. I am more confident in my ability to engage with people from varied social and cultural backgrounds.
Baru Agbortoko
MSc Social Work Studies
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I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and the link between classroom knowledge and practical skills on placements has given me the confidence and experience to apply and work as a newly qualified social worker.
Matt James
Scotland MSc Social Work Studies
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I feel ready to enter in to the field of work and I would highly recommend this course to anyone that is passionate about becoming a qualified practitioner.
Kris Millar
Scotland MSc Social Work Studies
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