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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.


Practical placement

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


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


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

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.

Academic requirements

Typically, you will need to have either:

  • a 2:2 honours degree in any subject, or an equivalent international degree
  • a university-recognised equivalent academic qualification
  • or three or more years' relevant experience (preferably within the last five years) and a demonstrable ability to study at final year undergraduate level (Level 6). In these instances, applicants will be asked to undertake a written task to validate their suitability for study at this level. 

English language requirements

IELTS with an overall score of 7.0 with 6.5 in all subskills, or an accepted equivalent.

Other essential requirements

You will also need to provide:

  • evidence you have achieved GCSE Maths grade C/4, or equivalent
  • evidence you have achieved a 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 UK, and more specifically Wales.
  • 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
  • and two references, preferably one academic and one practice-related. The UCAS system only allows for one reference so your second reference should be provided following submission of your application via email (this will be requested through the admissions process)

Application Deadline

The UCAS equal consideration deadline is 18:00 on 26 January 2022. If you submit an application after this date, we will only consider it if places are still available.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will invite you to an interview. Due to regulatory body requirements, all interviews must be conducted in person. Offers are made based on the outcome of the interview. 

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 
  • 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.

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 2023/24 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

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 2023 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 £8,950 None
Year two £8,950 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2023/24 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 £20,450 None
Year two £20,450 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.


Through your studies you will undertake a series of Practice-Based Learning opportunities (PLOs) (timeframes are indicative and may be subject to change):

  • Level 1 - 20-days (Semester 1, Year 1)
  • Level 2 - 80-days (Semester 2, Year 1)
  • Level 3 - 100-days (Semester 2, Year 2)

Practice Learning Opportunities (PLOs) (i.e. placements) are facilitated via our local authority partners, these include: Bridgend; Blaenau Gwent; Caerphilly; Cardiff; Monmouthshire, Newport; Rhondda Cynon Taff; Torfaen; and the Vale of Glamorgan. On occasion, PLOs might be provided by local authorities or social care providers outside of the partnership, this is done at the discretion of the Programme. PLOs can be in both statutory and non-statutory settings (at least one of your PLOs will be in a statutory setting). Applicants/students do not get to choose the local authority they are hosted by, nor are they able to select the PLOs they undertake. Throughout the admissions process, and the programme of studies, information is shared with local authority partners and Social Care Wales (SCW). In some instances, information may also need to be shared with other bodies/organisations in accordance with our legal obligations. 

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 UK students 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 2023 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount Scheme

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's programme in 2023/24.

Next steps


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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.