MA Social Work

If you’re an ambitious graduate, the University of Bolton’s Social Work England-approved Master’s in Social Work offers you the skills and knowledge you’ll need for a successful career supporting people in complex and challenging situations. Combining university learning, work-based practice placements and ongoing professional skills development, our expert team will support you as you learn to bring about positive changes for individuals, families and communities.

Social Work

Key information



Mode of Study:



24 months


University of Bolton

Start date:


Course Details

Social work is a varied and rewarding profession centred on people. It offers careers working with children, young people and adults, supporting families, care leavers and older people, as well as those with mental health issues, learning difficulties or physical disabilities. As a social worker, you’ll work in multidisciplinary environments alongside professionals from other agencies, such as housing services, the police and health and social care teams, to empower individuals, families and communities within society.

Our MA Social Work focuses on helping you learn to use your professional judgement and build relationships, both with the individuals and communities you serve as well as with colleagues from other professions and services. Our passionate and knowledgeable staff will support you to develop a sound knowledge of social work theory, models, legislation, policy, ethics and interventions that will underpin your professional decision-making. We’ll cover areas such as the impact of injustice, demography, social inequality, safeguarding and the signs of harm, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. We’ll guide you as you gain key skills, values and behaviours, including professional curiosity, interpersonal and communication skills, initiative, leadership, research and critical reflection, partnership working, self-care and resilience, record keeping, and workload management.

Our focus is on preparing you to become a confident, highly competent, compassionate and professional social worker. On successful completion of this qualification, you’ll be able to use your professional expertise to work, assess, plan, implement, evaluate and intervene, putting the needs of people first, and ensuring their voice is central to decision making. You’ll be ready to maintain professional and ethical standards while supporting positive change in people's lives to improve their wellbeing and independence.

  • The University of Bolton’s MA Social Work is approved by Social Work England. On successful completion of this programme, you’ll be eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England as a Social Worker.
  • You’ll gain first-hand work experience and have the opportunity to develop an invaluable network of professional contacts during your two work placements. You’ll undertake a first-year placement of 70 days and a final year placement of 100 days. Placements are available in a diverse range of social work areas, helping prepare you for the changing environments you’ll encounter during your career.
  • We offer 30 skills development days that focus on helping you learn specific skills, such as interviewing families, communicating with children, family group conferencing, solution-focused approaches, ‘clarifying, probing and challenging’, resilience for practitioners, case recording and giving evidence in court.
  • We’ll help you develop an awareness and appreciation for differing cultural values and behaviours, the factors that influence our journeys from pre-birth through to death, and the effects of age, sexuality, gender identity and expression, capacity, learning ability and physical ability. You’ll also be encouraged to recognise how your own values and experience influence the judgements you make.
  • Our professional expert academic tutors come from a wide range of professional and academic backgrounds, including social work and a number of allied health and social care professions. They weave essential knowledge of inter-professional and multi-agency working into their delivery of the theory elements of the course, helping prepare you to work effectively with colleagues from a variety of other professions and agencies.
Key Features
  • Our programme offers 200 days of practice-based learning opportunities. We’ll arrange two work placements for you totalling 170 days, and you’ll benefit from an additional 30 skills development days that take place on campus.
  • Throughout the course, specialists in social work, other key allied health and social care practitioners, senior managers and policymakers will be invited to join us as guest speakers. You can also expect to meet service users and carers who have direct experience of services and who can offer their unique and valuable perspectives on the role of social workers in the community.
  • Our dedicated team will guide you as you develop critical thinking and research evaluation skills and apply these during your independent master’s-level project. This experience will support your on-going professional development in future and help you evaluate evidence to inform your practice and decision-making in the field.
  • Social work can be very demanding and carries a lot of responsibility so we’ll support you to learn strategies and techniques that can help you to build your professional and emotional resilience and successfully manage the situations you face.
  • On successful completion of this programme, you’ll be awarded an MA in Social Work from the University of Bolton.
  • By choosing to study with us, you'll have the chance to enjoy Bolton's many shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities. Manchester, one of the UK's most multicultural and lively cities, is less than 20 minutes away by train. Not forgetting, the North West of England is renowned for its beautiful countryside, coastline and heritage. This makes Bolton an ideal base from which to explore some of the best cultural and outdoor activities the UK offers.
Professional recognition

This programme is approved by Social Work England.

On successful completion of this course, you will have been assessed as meeting the professional standards required by Social Work England and the professional capabilities for qualifying social workers. As a result, you will be eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England as a Social Worker.

  • You should have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) in any subject (or equivalent). We may consider applicants with a lower second class honours degree (2.2) in certain circumstances.
  • You should also have GCSEs at grade C or above or grade 4 to 9 (or equivalent) in English Language.
  • While you don’t need to have prior experience, some experience of working in a helping capacity would be an advantage.
  • For guidance regarding acceptable alternative qualifications, please contact Qualifications gained outside England and Wales will be assessed on an individual basis according to guidance by Social Work England.
  • We are happy to consider alternative qualifications and relevant work experience. The Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (RPCL) or Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) route may be used for entry. Please contact the programme leader for details.
  • If your application is successfully shortlisted, you’ll be invited to a selection day where you’ll be expected to complete a number of assessments, including an interview, written test and group activity. The interview panel will include academic staff, practice staff and service users. The written test will assess your comprehension and written communication skills. The group activity will assess your values, behaviours, communication and problem-solving skills. We’re seeking students who can demonstrate commitment to a social work career, have excellent communication skills, and are empathic, caring, and courageous.
  • If you’re successful at the interview stage, you’ll be asked to undergo occupational health screening and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
  • You'll be required to pass occupational health screening satisfactorily.
  • You’ll need to demonstrate that you are of good health and good character prior to enrolment and on an on-going basis throughout your studies and career. You’ll be required to complete a confidential self-declaration form outlining any medical or health conditions that may affect your ability to undertake academic or social work practice tasks.
  • We'll consider applications where appropriate work experience can be demonstrated in lieu of, or in addition to, the published academic qualifications in line with the University’s Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) procedures.
  • This course involves working unsupervised with children and/or vulnerable young people and adults and you must gain an Enhanced Disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before starting your studies. Charges are payable to cover the cost of the DBS Enhanced Disclosure application and annual registration with the online Update Service.
  • If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need IELTS 7.0 with normally no less than 6.5 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.
  • Please note that this course is subject to the University of Bolton's Fitness to Practise procedure.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

The field of social work spans multiple career options, and many graduates choose their career path based on the types of people they want to help. Social workers provide help and support directly to individuals, couples, families and groups, often supporting people who face a range of challenges such as poverty, mental health issues, addiction and family problems. As a social worker, you may provide one-to-one support such as therapy and counselling or connect people with resources in their community to help them to overcome their problems.

As a graduate of this degree, you’ll be able to demonstrate a wide range of transferable skills such as resilience, advanced communication and negotiation skills. You’ll also possess the ability to manage conflict and exercise authority in complex situations, manage risk to self, service users and colleagues, and enable others to achieve their goals.

What can I do with this qualification?

Successful completion of the MA in Social Work will demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge to become a leading member of the field. The programme will allow you to develop your expertise and provide you with a competitive advantage to take on more management/senior leadership roles.

As well as equipping you with a professional qualification, gaining the MA will allow you to progress on to post-qualifying courses or apply to continue with your academic studies at PhD level.

Alternative career options

Graduates can also use the qualification as a stepping-stone into a range of other careers. For some of these roles, relevant experience and postgraduate study may be required. Potential careers include:

  • Adult guidance
  • Community development
  • Counselling
  • Mediator
  • Probation
  • Youth work
  • Mental health
  • Teaching
  • Journalism
  • Volunteer management
  • Substance misuse
  • Social housing
  • Public policy development
  • Research
  • Human resource management
  • Consultancy
  • Public health

Course fees

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £4,248 for the academic year 2024/25.

Overseas students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Overseas fee of £15,950 for the academic year 2024/25.

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2023-2024 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for 'Home' fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for 'Home' fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance for EU students web page on for information.

The fees for a student's course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.


Click here for more information on our Master's Bursaries.


The UK government has previously provided student bursaries for pre-qualifying social work students resident in England. These bursaries provided a contribution towards tuition fees, nominal living expenses and transport costs for placements. Please contact the programme leader for the latest information.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or

Thank you for your interest

In order to determine your suitability for this course as an international student and also to confirm you meet any initial eligibility criteria, we need you to answer a few short questions.


Modern social work professionals require a range of skills and values. Our practice placement partners and tutors will help you gain experience in a range of social work scenarios designed to develop your skills in a safe and supportive environment. The course involves a wealth of workplace learning opportunities. You’ll undertake a first-year placement of 70 days and a final year placement of 100 days. Your placements will be organised and monitored by the University (please note that considerable travelling may be required and that you’ll be responsible for travel and parking costs).

As you progress through the course, we’ll guide and encourage you to draw on your practice placement experience while studying theory, and apply the theory learned to your practice while on placement, so that you can understand how the two complement each other. Your practice placements will contribute to your overall degree outcome alongside your academic work.

We’ll use a blended-learning approach, combining face-to-face sessions with online and practical work. You can expect lectures, presentations, simulations delivered by tutors, seminar discussions, small group workshops, group and individual tutorials. Inter-professional practitioners from the field of health and social care will contribute as guest speakers so that you can learn from their first-hand live examples of current practice. We’ll use a virtual learning environment (VLE) as an accessible repository for online resources and learning packages. Online content will form a normal part of the learning experience (for instance, podcasts, blogs, and audiovisual media), as well as interactive learning packages. You’ll also need to undertake a significant amount of personal study, including general background reading, preparing for seminar activities, working on assignments and revising for examinations.

To help support your learning, the University also offers additional study skills sessions, such as essay writing, library skills and electronic searching, and numeracy. You can also find support through our social learning community that includes a peer-support programme and enhanced personal tutoring. You’ll also be expected to develop your own E-portfolio, where you’ll catalogue evidence of your learning through a variety of media. To enhance your individual journey to becoming an effective practitioner, you’ll be encouraged to develop reflective practice through personal development planning.

Assessment tasks are designed to ensure you achieve the learning outcomes for each module and develop the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours required to practise as a social worker. While assessment serves to evaluate your achievement, it also helps you organise and develop your learning by revealing your strengths and weaknesses. A variety of assessment methods will be used, including essays, reports, presentations, portfolios and set exercises. We’ll provide feedback on your assessments to help you improve in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: 100% attendance for practice-based learning is required, and absences or missed components of practice-based learning will have to be completed at a later date.

A minimum of 80% attendance is required for programme modules to progress and achieve the award for which you are registered. You must attend scheduled sessions. Please note that attendance is taken into account when making Assessment Board decisions. You may be withdrawn due to poor attendance.


The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • Law for Social Work Practice
  • Social Work with Children, Families and Adults
  • Readiness for Social Work Practice
  • Practice Placement 1
  • Employability
  • Dissertation
  • Practice Placement 2
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 95%, Written exams 5%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 47%, Placement/study abroad 40%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 13%


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Martina Kirlew
Programme Leader and Admissions Tutor

+44 (0)1204 903782

Natasha Hassan
Lecturer in Social Work

+44 (0)1204 903437

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton

+44 (0)1204 903903

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We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
QQA Scheme Participant