MSc in Social Work Studies

University of Stirling

Program Description

MSc in Social Work Studies

University of Stirling

Do you want a career that is stimulating, rewarding and makes a positive contribution to society? If so a postgraduate diploma/MSc in social work could be for you.

At Stirling University social work education is committed to progressive social change through teaching, research and an active involvement with practice. We believe in a social work profession defined not only by its function but also by its values and integrity.

We promote an understanding of social work which is informed by social justice and human rights, a profession that acknowledges the links between 'public issues' and 'private troubles' and seeks to address both. We value social work practice that has prevention at its heart and recognises the importance of collective approaches, actively engaging with and learning from user movements.

On the Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Social Work course at the University of Stirling you will be taught by a team of qualified social workers including world leaders in their research field and academics who continue to work in practice alongside their University role. You will enjoy the benefits of smaller class sizes (23-55) with creative approaches to teaching and assessment as well as detailed feedback on your progress. You will experience contributions to teaching by people who have used social work services and carers and on your practice placements, will be supported and assessed by accredited Practice Teachers and Educators. We will help you qualify as a social worker who is knowledgeable, skilled, analytical and ethical in your approach to working with individuals, families, groups and communities.


Successful completion of this course will mean students are then eligible to be registered, by the Scottish Social Services Council, as a qualified social worker.

Course objectives

This course provides you with an integrated academic and professional course which develops the intellectual and practice skills necessary for professional practice as a social worker.

Recent dissertation titles are: End of life assistance from a social work perspective; The use of communication tools when working with people with dementia: a practitioner perspective; Foster carers' experiences of support; Does employment have an impact upon the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities?

What makes us different?

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Practical experience in a social care setting is essential. Registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is a requirement for commencing and remaining on the programme (further information on how to apply will be provided to successful applicants who accept a place on the course). Enrolled students must also be a member of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Scholarships & funding

Currently, bursaries are available from the SSSC for Postgraduate Social Work students; applicants who are offered and accept a place will be given information about applying for a bursary. Please note that the University is not responsible for allocating these. Further information about this funding can be found here Please note that the current bursary covers most of the fee for the course, however there is a shortfall for which you will be responsible.

Structure and content

The taught course consists of nine modules which include two periods of assessed practice. All students have a personal tutor during the course.

Year 1

You will study three modules during Semester 1 on:

  • Human Development and Family Contexts (SWKPDE): Development across the life cycle. Dominant themes and challenges associated with developmental stages; complexity of family life
  • Theory and Practice of Social Work (SWKPPT): Introduction to core knowledge, skills and values for social work practice; professional identity, communicating, listening, interviewing, assessing, planning, intervening, reviewing and evaluating, reflective practice, anti-discriminatory practice
  • Research Methods (SWKPOR): This online module introduces students to the role of research in social work practice and equips them with the key knowledge and skills to undertake their own research.
  • Students will also undertake directed study into Social Work Law and Policy: Introduction to legal systems and processes, law regarding children, adults and families, community care and criminal justice

During Semester 2 you will undertake a placement in full-time supervised practice (75 days) in a statutory or independent agency: Practice Learning 1 (SWKPP1).

Year 2

You will study four modules during Semester 3 on:

  • Critical Approaches to Theory & Practice – Children, Families and Society (SWKPCF): social work assessment and intervention in relation to children and families. Exploration of different areas of practice. Creative responses to the assessment and management of risk
  • Theory & Practice – Crime, Welfare and Justice (SWKPCJ): What is crime and who defines crime? Responses to offending behaviour. Theoretical explanations of offending behaviour ‘causes’ of crime. Assessing and ‘managing’ the risk of crime, its extent and nature. Exploration of different areas of practice. Effective social work practice and what it means.
  • Theory & Practice – Health, Illness and Disability (SWKPHD): the impact of illness and disability on the social and emotional functioning of individuals, families and specific service user groups, for example, people with mental health problems, people with drug/alcohol problems. Social and medical models of illness, disability and learning difficulties. The meaning of risk – risk taking and risk minimisation approaches. The influence of social and structural factors. Social work skills and methods in promoting the health of people who use social work services

The second supervised practice placement runs through the summer period and during semester four (95 days) Practice Learning 2 (SWKPP2). You then take one module: Dissertation (SWKPDD). The award of Postgraduate Diploma is made at this point, following satisfactory completion of all assessed work.

The dissertation period, during which empirical research is undertaken and written up, is three months (full-time) or six months (part-time). There is an additional fee for the dissertation component of the programme. This covers supervision, support and assessment. At present, this fee is £500

Delivery and assessment

The course is delivered through lectures incorporating small group discussion, student-led project work, micro-skills teaching workshops.

Practice Placements are in a wide range of statutory and voluntary agencies across a sixty-mile radius and provide the opportunity for classroom-based teaching to be applied in practice. Every student has a qualified practice teacher to supervise and assess their practice.

The course is run in partnership with statutory and non-statutory agencies in Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh City, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.

Your learning is greatly assisted by the contribution (to teaching and practice learning) of staff from local voluntary and statutory agencies. You will also benefit from contributions by service users and carers and from the range of research and teaching interests within the Faculty of Social Sciences, in which Social Work is located. Particular strengths include community care, criminal justice, children and families, skills teaching, values and comparative approaches.

A wide range of assessment methods is used: essays, analytical accounts of practice, filmed assessment of practice skills, class presentations, an oral examination on social work practice and assessment of the two practice learning opportunities.

Staff are all qualified social workers with a strong commitment to the profession in terms of teaching and research. This is demonstrated by membership of a range of international and national social work organisations within the staff group. Additionally, we have partnerships with local agencies in terms of exchange of knowledge between academia and practice. As a result we have strong representation of practitioners and other agency staff on our assessment boards and in teaching.

Career opportunities

Successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma or the MSc provides the ‘licence to practise’ as a qualified social worker registered with the regulatory council of the country in which they work. The qualification is recognised throughout the UK and for work in community-based teams, hospitals, day and residential centres and voluntary agency projects. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it is also the qualification for social work in prisons and criminal justice teams.

The nature of the work is extremely varied and there is the capacity to move between different work settings throughout your career. Currently, over 80 percent of students find social work jobs within six months of graduating.

The nature of the work is extremely varied and there is the capacity to move between different work settings throughout your career. Currently, over 80 percent of students find social work jobs within six months of graduating.


The MSc/PG Dip in Social Work Studies is a professional course which requires students to undertake along with their academic modules, two practice placements. It is in these placements that our students gain experience in direct work with service users and learn essential transferrable skills for their future employment within the social work profession. During the course they also gain experience of presentation skills, research methodology, as well as being taught specific and relevant skills to prepare them for employment in a variety of social work settings.

Industry connections

We are fortunate to have strong connections with our partner agencies within a 60-mile radius of the University, who contribute to the teaching on the course and who also provide a range of placements across both statutory and voluntary social work services. Examples of these are: the local authorities in Forth Valley, Fife, and Perth & Kinross, and voluntary agencies such as Barnardos and Multi-Cultural Family Base.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 27, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Jan. 2018
2 years
Full time
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Start date: Jan. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Jan. 2018
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info