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Social Work (MA)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Full time

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You will need to apply for this course through one of our partners.


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Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

Study the theory and practical skills of social work, and gain the training required to qualify and register as a social worker in Wales and the wider UK.


In partnership

We design and deliver our programme in partnership with people with experience of services, carers, local authority partners and third sector organisations in Wales.


Decades of practice experience

Our teaching team represents decades of practice experience in a variety of fields, and includes two of the top 100 social work academics in the world, and a former Children’s Commissioner for Wales.



Embedded within the School of Social Sciences, home of internationally-recognised high-quality teaching and research.


Bursaries available

Welsh and English students have access to bursaries to help fund their studies.


Strong links

Strong links with the world-leading CASCADE research centre for children’s social care, and the newly founded CARE centre for adult social care.


Learning opportunities

Offering social work and multi-disciplinary learning opportunities.

Our accredited Master’s degree in Social Work is designed for graduates with at least three to four months’ relevant work experience who want to qualify as professional Social Workers.

This two-year MA Social Work is approved by Social Care Wales so when you graduate, you will be eligible for professional registration.

Over the two years of study, you will gain an in depth understanding of the ethics and values of social work, social work practice skills and critical practice relating to the law around children and families and adult care, and the key theories and perspectives underpinning social work policy and practice.

Throughout your time at Cardiff, you will build upon and refine your critical research and analytical skills in relation to social work practice and policy and develop professional reflective practice techniques.

You will apply your learning and develop your workplace skills and professional networks by completing three Practice Learning Placements, amounting to 200 days over the two years, hosted by one of the nine Local Authorities in Wales with whom we work in partnership. The practical training will allow you to apply your theoretical learning to real life situations, working with diverse people who use services and carers

From communication skills to legal duties, professional decision-making to an understanding of socio-economic factors, our MA Social Work will equip you fully for the challenges you will face in social work.


There was an excellent balance between time in the classroom and placements. The staff on the programme were fantastic, too. They're approachable, supportive and take a genuine interest in you achieving your best.
Sophia Grammenos, Social Work (MA)

Where you'll study

School of Social Sciences

Our degrees are delivered by internationally recognised experts with a track record of influencing policy and practice around the world.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 5179
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

You will need to submit your application through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) (institute code C15, course code L508) and, once you have received your Cardiff University application portal login details, you must upload copies of the required evidence.

Once you have submitted a fully completed UCAS application you will need to provide: 

1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in any subject, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates. 

2. A personal statement which should identify your self-motivation to study, analytical skills, critical reasoning, and an awareness of Social Care Wales’ Code of Practice for Social Care. Note the UCAS system has a strict word limit so you can provide an extended personal statement post-application.

3. One academic or professional/employer reference submitted either via UCAS or provided post-application. If provided post-application, please ensure the reference is signed, dated, and on headed paper. 

4. Evidence you have relevant social care experience. There is no specific number of hours that you need to have achieved. Relevant experience can come from personal, voluntary, or paid roles. Experience should preferably be from within the last five years. The experience should enable you to demonstrate an understanding of social work/care in the context of the UK, and more specifically Wales. Details of your experience can be provided in your personal statement, reference, or any other supporting documentation that you are able to provide.

5. Suitable evidence of English language ability, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, which is equivalent to IELTS with an overall score of 7.5 with 6.5 in all subskills. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending.

If you do not have a degree, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. You will need to demonstrate an ability to study at final year undergraduate level (Level 6). In these instances, you may be asked to undertake additional testing, such as a written task, to validate your suitability for study at this level.  

Application deadline 

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled. 

Selection process 

We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will make you an offer. 

Enrolment conditions

If you are successful in obtaining an offer your enrolment will be subject to fulfilment of the following conditions:

  • Provision of any outstanding documentation not previously provided during the admissions process (e.g. certificates, references, etc.).
  • An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) background check with list checks for both Adults and Children. International applicants this may also be required to secure letters of good conduct, or equivalent, in accordance with University, Social Care Wales and Home Office guidance/requirements. International applicants may also be asked to secure letters of good conduct, or equivalent, in accordance with University, Social Care Wales and Home Office guidance/requirements. The cost of any background checks must be met by the applicants/students.
  • Confirmation of your Fitness-to-Practise (FTP) where appropriate.
  • Confirmation of your Fitness-to-Study (FTS) from Cardiff University’s Occupational Health (OH) service.
  • Successful registration with Social Care Wales as a Social Work Student.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You will be required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check if your application is successful. If you are applying from certain countries overseas, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be required. If you have a relevant criminal conviction, this will be stated in the check and may affect your ability to enrol on the course. Applicants who are on the barred list should be aware that applying to this course is likely to be considered a criminal offence.

Course structure

The MA Social Work is a two-year programme that is both academic and practice based.  You will complete a minimum of 200 days practice learning across the two years. Half of the programme is devoted to supervised practice in social service agencies, where you’ll have the opportunity to learn through observation, rehearsal, and performance.

The social work placements take place in the local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council

One Local Authority will be chosen to host you during the duration of your studies. Your prior employment history or personal circumstances may be considered in this process, but it cannot be guaranteed.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

This is a two-year full-time programme leading to an MA and a professional qualification in social work.

You will spend 100 days on placements in year one.

Year two

You will spend another 100 days on placements in year two. You will choose a specialist pathway (adults or children and families) and complete a dissertation.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught using a variety of teaching and learning approaches and through a mixture of large and small group sessions. These include lectures, seminars, group work, student-led presentations, and role play. In addition, you will undertake directed and independent study, for which reading lists and online resources are available through our virtual learning environment (Learning Central).

How will I be assessed?

We aim to provide you with assessments that mirror real world situations guiding you to be open to and welcoming of feedback and learning how to give feedback in a way that is supportive and helpful.

Case scenarios will be used to expose you to real life practice examples and simulate knowledge and skills required for the job during placements and once qualified. Assessments will foster literacy and use learning outcomes and criteria to guide preparation and self-assessment and evaluation of your work.

You will receive written feedback on all assignments and portfolios, including feedforward to support learning and development, and all your marks and feedback are made with reference to the relevant marking criteria.

How will I be supported?

Throughout both years of study, you will receive dedicated pastoral support through:

  • an allocated personal tutor, who maintains an overview of your educational experiences and academic progress throughout your two years of study;
  • an allocated dissertation supervisor; and
  • a Practice Educator (PE) for each of your three Practice Learning Placements. A PE is an experienced social worker who observes your practice, provides you with profession supervision, and advises upon your preparation of your portfolio of evidence.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate the academic knowledge and practical skills required of qualified social workers.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,450 None
Year two £9,450 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £22,700 None
Year two £22,700 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

You will have to fund your Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?


Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Career prospects

On successful completion of the programme, you qualify as a social worker and be able to register with Social Care Wales, as well as equivalent bodies across the UK. This will enable you to be employed in a range of social work settings. We have a very high employment rate for our students.

The course was highly interactive. Placements helped me develop key skills such as the ability to reflect and emotional intelligence, as well as practice skills such as motivational interviewing.
Nathaniel Wilson, Social Work (MA)

Next steps


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How to apply

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Related searches: Social work, Social sciences

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.