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Social Work (MA)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Full time

Applications are closed

Applications for this course are currently closed. Contact us for more information.


Deadline date

The deadline date for application is 15 January.


Conversion course

This is a conversion course. No prior knowledge or degree in the subject is required.


Open day

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.


Practical placement

Students undertake three assessed practice placements in a range of settings.


Internationally engaged

Benefit from opportunities for international study visits.


Informed by service users

Delivered in partnership with Local Authorities, people who use services, and carers.


Current practice and research

Teaching staff with practice and research backgrounds.

The MA Social Work is a two-year full-time programme that will give you everything you need to achieve a professional qualification in social work. You will benefit from strong tutorial support, teaching informed by research and practice, and access to a range of placement opportunities in specialist fields.

On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to assume the title of Registered Social Worker.

You’ll be taught by staff who have both practice and research experience in a wide range of fields and will undertake three placements throughout the programme, with a total of 100 days spent on placement during each year.

Situated within the broader environment of social sciences, this programme provides a theoretical and critical approach to the acquisition and appreciation of knowledge about social work practice and its context. Principles of human rights are core.


The MA Social Work has an excellent balance between time in the classroom and placements. The course was intellectually stimulating, fun and interactive. Having the opportunity to complete three different placements throughout the course meant that I was able to experience social work in a variety of different settings across different sectors. The staff made the lectures more interactive than the traditional style, with the opportunity to do presentations, small group work, role-play and classroom debates. The staff on the programme are fantastic. They are approachable, supportive and take a genuine interest in you achieving your best.
Sophia Grammenos, MA Social Work

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

This is a conversion course. Conversion courses allow you to study a subject unrelated to your undergraduate degree or current career, and support you with a change of career path. No prior knowledge or degree in the subject is required.

The closing date for applications is 15 January 2021. Applications after the closing date may be considered on a discretionary basis.  

Applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) - institute code C15, course code L508. Applications made via Cardiff University’s own admissions system will not be considered.

Essential criteria for this programme includes: 

1.       GCSE Maths grade C/4, or equivalent.

2.       GCSE English or Welsh Language, or equivalent. Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must also present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requirements.

3.       An undergraduate degree at 2:2 (or higher). Please note, candidates without a degree but who have three or more years' relevant experience (preferably within the last five years) and can demonstrate their ability to study at final year undergraduate level (i.e. level 6) may be considered. In these instances, applicants will be asked to undertake a written task to validate their suitability for study at this level. 

4.       Practice experience – you must have minimum of 455 hours of practice experience in a social care setting at the time of application. This is the roughly equivalent of three to four-months full-time work. Relevant experience can come from either voluntary or paid role. In occasional and exceptional circumstances personal experience(s) might also be considered. 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 United Kingdom (UK), and more specifically Wales. 

All experience and qualifications, with the exception of undergraduate degrees, must be held at the time of application. Through your statement you should also identify your self-motivation to study, analytical skills and critical reasoning. In your personal statement, you will need to demonstrate an awareness of Social Care Wales’ Code of Practice for Social Care. Two references (ideally, one academic and one practice related reference) will also be needed (details for these will be requested through the admissions process). 

Eligible applicants will be invited to interview to determine their suitability to undertake social work training. All interviews must be conducted in person (i.e. we are unable to provide interviews via telephone or video due to regulatory requirements). Those successful at interview will be offered a place on the programme. Note: Further information on interviews will be provided to successfully shorltisted applicants in case of continued COVID-19 restrictions.

All offers are subject to the terms of enrolment, which includes: 

  • Provision of any outstanding documentation not previously provided at Stages 1 or 2 of 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 (please see comments under general information for applicants) 
  • 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 
  • Successful completion of a European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) by the end of the programme of studies. The cost of any the ECDL must be met by the applicant/student.  
  • Any other outstanding entry requirements and/or wider conditions felt appropriate by the University

Please note, the University reserves the right to request further information regarding any aspect of your application. Incomplete applications, including a failure to provide any additional information requested, may result in your application being rejected.

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

All University and agency-based teaching and learning is structured in accordance with the National Occupational Standards for Social Work and the Code of Professional Practice and the requirements of the Social Care Wales. Furthermore the teaching responds to UK subject benchmarks for social work.

The programme will be delivered between early September and late July of each year with one week vacation periods at Christmas and Easter.

All subjects on the MA Social Work are mandatory/core – there is no optional element. Your specialisation at the end of year two is one subject but splits into one of two themes: adults or children and families. 

Your time will be divided between formal study and undertaking practical learning placements.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

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?

Teaching is offered in a range of ways: lectures, seminars, group work, self-directed study, role plays and in practice settings.

You will be expected to attend all timetabled sessions and are also expected to engage in independent study. You will receive supervision to help you complete the dissertation, but you will be expected to manage your own time to undertake significant independent study during this phase.

You are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study and to the Social Care Wales Code of Professional Practice.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including essays, class tests, project work, case studies, practice portfolios and reflective accounts.

Agency-based practice learning is examined and a ‘pass recommendation’ by the designated practice assessor is required together with a pass in academic work. 

How will I be supported?

Support materials will be provided via Learning Central (Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment) or from study packs specially developed for selected modules.

You will be allocated a personal tutor. Additional support and advice is available where necessary from our Senior Personal Tutor for Postgraduate Taught Students.


Feedback on coursework may be provided via written comments on work submitted, by provision of ‘model’ answers and/or through discussion in contact sessions.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The MA in Social Work is a two year full-time programme, leading to a master’s degree and a professional qualification in social work. It will enable you to build upon your existing academic and occupational experience to achieve a professional qualification in social work, with the range of skills that entails. These all meet the National Occupational Standards in Social Work.

Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Students from the UK

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £7,700 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £17,450 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

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.

Careers and placements

Your professional development will be strengthened through strong tutorial support, a research-led teaching environment and access to a range of placement opportunities in specialist fields.

On successful completion of the course you qualify as a social worker and will be able to assume the title of Registered Social Worker. This enables you to become employed in a range of social work settings. We have a high employment rate for our students.


The MA Social Work was highly interactive, and we often discussed the relevance of theory and research to practice. My placements helped me to develop key skills for practice such as my ability to reflect, my emotional intelligence, and practice skills such as motivational interviewing.
Nathaniel Wilson, MA Social Work


Master's Excellence Scholarships

An award open to students with a home fee status intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2021 dates.

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Contact us for more information about this course.


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HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. 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 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.