Full time 24 Month(s)
This programme, which offers both an academic award and a professional qualification in social work, prepares you for a career in a broad range of social work agencies and settings. Having acquired your degree, you can apply to register as a social worker with the regulatory body for social workers in England.
The teaching emphasis throughout this MA is on issues relevant to social work practice in contemporary Britain, and explores the ways in which sociology, law, social policy and psychology inform and enhance professional social work.
We work in partnership with local stakeholders, including the main statutory and voluntary social work agencies in the North West, and as part of the your degree you will complete a total of 200 days of placement practice learning (170 days on placement and 30 skills development days in the University). The skills, insights and understanding you will acquire through these practical placements in more than one social work setting not only complement your academic learning at Lancaster but will be critical in informing your development as a social worker and your subsequent professional practice.
You will need to apply for this programme via UCAS, using course code L508.
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
Lasting a total of 70 days, this placement helps to provide the professional learning, personal development and assessment which all social work students must acquire over the course of their degree, and is complemented by three additional days focused on skills development.
Normally this placement is in either the private, voluntary or independent sector, and gives you the opportunity to gain practical experience of social work with supervision provided by a qualified social worker. If your placement is not within a social work service, it will nevertheless involve work which is highly relevant to developing practice capability, such as working directly with children and families or with adults at risk.
Completing this placement allows you to demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes in the Professional Capabilities Framework, that you can work within the Code of Conduct and Ethics for Social Work Students, and that you are beginning to meet the Standards of Proficiency for Social Work.
Many of the modules in the social work programme are focused on specific aspects of practice – for example, mental health, children and families, disability, drug use. This module is different: it takes a broader look at the context in which social work operates. It focuses upon key theories and concepts in social policy as a means of understanding ways of approaching, and organising reactions to, social problems. This is important because social work with individuals and families does not take place in a vacuum – there is a context for it.
Social work began and has developed in particular historical contexts, and it has been shaped by particular ideas about what welfare should be provided and how it should be provided. To be able to question practice – your own, other people’s and that of agencies – it is important to be able to make sense of this context. You need to understand broad patterns and trends in policy and practice, to understand why things are the way they are and how they might be changing, and to make some assessment of the state of social work today and likely future developments.
In sum, this module seeks to make sense of social work in its broader context.
How can social workers know that their decision-making is informed by the best possible evidence? How prepared are they to defend the evidence on which they rely to service users and other professionals in court or in case conferences?
Whilst there are many forms of evidence, one important source is that of research. Social Work’s Professional Capabilities Framework and the HCPC Standards of Proficiency both insist that research and research-mindedness is central to confident and effective social work practice. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s subject benchmark statement for Social Work also emphasises the importance of social workers having the skills to engage with research and employ knowledge from research in their practice.
This module is designed to give you the skills and attributes needed to become a practitioner who understands and can demonstrate the value of research evidence for practice, can critically appraise different forms of evidence and interpret complex and sometimes conflicting findings, and can apply research appropriately in your own practice.
The module also supports your ability to develop and apply the skills necessary to undertake independent study for your dissertation.
This module is the formal beginning of your journey into social work. Designed to provide a basic foundation and preparation for practice, it introduces you to the role of social work, and to the social work process – particularly the engagement and assessment stages.
It enables you to develop basic social work knowledge, values and skills, together with an ability to engage with service users. It also helps you to reflect on what you bring to social work practice.
As you progress through the module you will start to make links between some theories and issues discussed in the classroom and professional practice, and to examine your own values and attitudes. You will also begin to show that you are capable of meeting some of the standards of Proficiency within the Capabilities Framework for Social Work.
An understanding of diversity and difference, privilege and oppression, social cohesion and inequality – as well as an understanding of oneself within these social and institutional divisions – is an essential foundation for culturally competent and resilient social work practice.
In this module we explore how different dimensions of diversity intersect and interact with one another in everyday life, in social work practice, and in society more broadly. The many factors we consider include class, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, immigration status, political ideology, sex and sexual orientation.
You are supported to explore and critically analyse:
The themes of deconstructing systems of oppression, cultural wellness, intersectionality and practice strategies are infused through the module.
We also examine case studies of social work practice in international settings in order to prompt critical discussion of evidence-based practices, policy learning, cultural appropriateness, holistic approaches, and community empowerment.
This module helps you to apply a wide range of knowledge and skills to help build family relationships, resource and resilience so that the welfare of the child remains paramount. You will learn the latest child care law, policy and statutory guidance, and how to think critically about the assumptions, language and practices that underpin ‘risk’ assessments and social work practice relating to child care.
We explore the role played by developmental psychology in shaping concepts of childhood within welfare and protection practices. We also consider child harm and crimes against children and the problematic nature of child-rearing practices in conditions of poverty, isolation, single parenthood and cultural diversity.
You are introduced to key elements of effective practice, with a particular focus on how to safeguard and engage children and families – especially when the social worker also has to balance the often competing interests of parent and child and to deal with the challenges of multi-agency working. The importance of timely assessment and intervention to prevent family breakdown is also stressed, as is the need for care planning and partnership working with parents whose children have become subject to legal proceedings. You will also become familiar with court structures, roles and processes relevant to child care social work.
The module exposes you to the latest research, including analysis of serious case reviews, enabling you to demonstrate a high level of skill in evidence based, effective social work approaches to helping children and families which support change.
In this module we explore the challenges facing young people in the UK today, particularly those involved with the criminal justice system. Youth justice has been a contentious area of social policy for many years, and the contemporary situation is no different, with the national and local policy formulations posing particular considerations for social work within the values, ethics, skills, and methods which are so important to it, within a multi-professional and multi-agency setting.
The module seeks to draw out the particular features of a system which contains within it a variety of identifiable views on the causes of youth offending, and various means to deal with the problems which the young people themselves might face, and problems which they may present to others.
Social work is a messy, unpredictable, complex and intangible activity. This is because it is tied up with human emotions and emotions are very difficult to explain, quantify, objectify or fit into neat boxes. Actively engaging and using the emotions involved, both in terms of the practitioner and service user, enables a deeper social work approach to take place and enables the forming of relationships. Such relationships can then be used as the tool themselves to bring about positive changes for children and families who are receiving intervention from youth justice social workers.
Social workers working within the youth justice system know through their experience what is most likely to be effective in meeting the aims of the system – that is prevention of offending. To achieve this means real questions need to be asked about the effectiveness of the technical-rational risk focused approach of the current youth justice system in favour of a system which adopts the principles of Munro (2011) and empowers social workers to actively use critically reflective and reflexive practice and supports the use of self to build powerful social work relationships with the vulnerable children they work with.
In this module we focus upon the contribution social work can make to the lives of disabled and older people who use social care services.
The starting point for the module is that concepts such as the social model of disability, independent living and personalisation are ways of thinking as well as doing. This requires social workers to understand the philosophy and principles that underpin ways of delivering support and enabling choice and control for people who use services.
To work in partnership with those who use services and the wider service-user, disability and older people’s movements, social workers also need to understand the legacy of paternalistic, oppressive and dependency-creating ways of understanding the ‘problems’ of disability and old age – and the forms of provision that these led to.
Building on the earlier foundation module, Preparation for Practice 1, this module continues the process of preparing you to demonstrate your readiness for practice, through critical examination of the social work knowledge base.
The module examines the contested nature of social work knowledge by considering differing theoretical perspectives and associated epistemologies. You are introduced to key methods and theories of social work, and will learn more about the importance of applying reflexivity and critical thinking to practice.
The classroom sessions also include guest speaker input from both practitioners and service users, enabling you to learn directly from their experience.
During this module you will therefore be building on the knowledge, values and skills you have developed during your first placement and reflecting on the learning and feedback you have gained from the practice context. Importantly, this module is about helping you to be not simply a passive recipient of knowledge but more aware of how you can apply that knowledge actively within your own practice.
In this module you undertake a substantial piece of independent study, such as a literature review or a piece of small-scale empirical research in which you investigate in depth a topic of your choice that relates to social work practice.
The dissertation builds on core learning across the modules that make up the MA in Social Work, drawing particularly on The Research-minded Practitioner.
This module is delivered through workshops and one-to-one supervision tailored to the needs of individual students. Rather than following a formal curriculum, it is built around a number of core themes that take you through the various stages of researching and developing your dissertation:
Mental health is an increasingly complex area of social work practice, due to competing rights and sanctions, fast-paced legal change and controversial case law precedents. The boundaries between lawful and unlawful practice are not easily identifiable, which presents a challenge for social work – especially given our duty as social workers to defend people’s human rights.
This module is designed to enable you to develop a critical understanding of the nature of contemporary mental health services, and the associated legislative, policy and practice context. It emphasises the importance of alternative constructions of mental health, as opposed to the dominance of the medical model, and asserts the importance of service user expertise.
The module concludes by re-evaluating the role of social work in mental health services and considering implications for future practice.
This module develops your awareness of the use of drugs in society. The impact that often chaotic (though non-chaotic use can still be problematic), chronic and habitual drug and/or alcohol use and misuse can have on individuals and families is well documented, and the wider societal impact of such use, which often tends to be highly prevalent within socially and economically deprived communities, means that it is a pertinent issue, if not a tangible cause for concern for the helping professions, social work in particular.
The complexity of the ‘role’: the function of being agents of social control and change, community developers, and ‘caring’ professionals, in relation to individuals attempting to change their habits (often of a lifetime in certain cases) of drug and alcohol misuse, cannot be overstated.
Good social worker practice treats people with fairness, ensures equal opportunities and never rejects people for what or who they are. However, building a successful relationship with service users when their life is often chaotic and complex requires good communication and a willingness to listen coupled with dogged determinism and the ‘patience of a saint’. It isn’t easy and therein lays the challenge.
This second placement, which lasts 100 days, will be based in a different practice setting to your previous placement, and should give you the opportunity to gain practical insights into statutory social work tasks which involve legal interventions.
Preparing you for the statutory aspects of a social worker’s role, the setting for this final placement will be one that enables you to show that you can engage with formal assessment processes – for example, undertaking observation, gathering information, conducting analysis, reporting, using evidence bases, and developing clear recommendations.
Completing this placement should enable you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and values required of a newly qualified social worker. It should allow you to show that you have the overall capability to work with a range of user groups and to undertake a range of tasks at a foundation level. You should also be able to demonstrate your ability to work in more complex situations and to work more autonomously.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Application procedure: Apply via UCAS on their Undergraduate site using course code L508
Undergraduate Degree: 2:1 (Hons) degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant social science
If you have studied outside of the UK, you can check your qualifications here: International Qualifications
As part of your application you will also need to provide confirmation of
GCSE in English and Maths Grade C or above, or its equivalent (e.g. Functional Skills Level 2 in Maths and English)
Relevant experience (not necessarily in a social work agency)
English Language: IELTS - Overall score of at least 7.0, with no individual element below 7.0
We consider tests from other providers, which can be found here: English language requirements
If your score is below our requirements we may consider you for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes
Pre-sessional English language programmes available:
4 Week Overall score of at least 7.0, with no individual element below 6.5
10 Week Overall score of at least 6.0, with no individual element below 6.0
Longer courses are not an option for this programme
Funding: All applicants should consult our information on Fees and Funding; Faculty Scholarships and Funding; Sociology Fees and Funding
Additional funding information for MA Social Work qualifications
The social work bursary scheme is constantly subject to review, so it is advisable to check the NHSBSA website regularly to keep up to date with any changes that may affect your year of entry.
You will need to budget for the cost of getting to social work placements. The amount will vary depending on the location of the placement but you may be able to claim a placement travel allowance from the NHS or the agency offering the placement may make a contribution towards the cost of your travel. All social work students will need to pay for an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check. Further costs to be considered include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Further information: For more information about the department please visit our webpages http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/
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