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Social Work

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Social Work


The closing date for applications to start this course in September 2024 is 31 July 2024. Further detail here.

Key information

Duration: 2 years full time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Central London

UK fees*: £9,000

International/EU fees**: £19,100

The course

Social Work (MSc)

To apply for this course, please use the UCAS Undergraduate Portal with course code L508.*

*(please note, the tuition fees and entry requirements for 2024 may differ from the information shown on this page)

The MSc Social Work is an accelerated programme for applicants who already have a first degree and want to embark on a career in social work.  This two year course, delivered at our London location, will fully prepare you for a professional career in social work.

This course runs in close partnership with social work and social care agencies and local authorities based in inner and outer London boroughs as well as neighbouring counties. Students will benefit from two practice learning placements – experiencing the world of social work first hand, learning from direct practice with qualified practitioners, service users, carers and other professionals.  Practice based learning is integrated with college-based teaching and learning throughout the programme.

The combination of a taught and practice curriculum breaks down barriers between practice, policy and research, meaning you will emerge from the course as a critically reflective practitioner who can work for the most vulnerable in society within an anti-oppressive framework.

Our department has a longstanding tradition of providing excellent social work education and training and has produced a wide range of research that has been highly influential in the development of social work practice. 

More information on the MSc Social Work degree and how to apply can be found in the flyer here

On completion of the degree, you will have advanced knowledge of:

  • Social work theories, psychology, social policy, law and organisational theories and their application to social work practice
  • Skills and methods applicable in a wide range of social work environments, working with people across the lifespan
  • Critical reflection and its application to critical social work practice 
  • The contribution and application of social research to social work theories and practice
  • Values and ethics relevant to social work practice based on social justice
  • The significance of inequalities and difference in working with organisations and social service users
  • the significance of cultural diversity and anti-discriminatory practice in working with organisations, service users and carers

Royal Holloway MSc Social Work students benefit from the added value of Child Observation and Critical Reflection seminars.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • This module supports learning and demonstration of key knowledge and skills for social work practice. It initially prepares students for entering practice settings through the Readiness for Direct Practice content. An understanding of the practical application of core themes integral to social work practice will be developed, including professionalism, service user & carer perspectives, ethics and social work values, communication skills and reflective practice. The centrality of people with lived experience is emphasised alongside the development of a professional identity in line with the Professional Capability Framework (PCF), SWE Standards of Education and Training, and Knowledge and Skills Statements for both adults and child and families’ practice.

  • On this module you will learn how to use social work theory and methods when practising critically and ethically with service users and carers from diverse backgrounds in a variety of settings. This module supports your learning and demonstration of key knowledge and skills for social work practice and you will develop understanding of the practical application of core themes integral to social work practice including: professionalism, service user & carer perspectives, ethics and social work values, communication skills and reflective practice. Core skills teaching include developing communication, group work and critical reflection skills, as well as a grounding in social work values,  anti-oppressive practice, safeguarding, assessment and use of supervision.

  • This module aims to equip you with critical perspectives on human growth and development across the life course. You will be introduced to a range of theories which enable you to critically explore human development and life experiences taking into account the impact of the environment, contextual and structural factors.  You will be introduced to an adapted version of the Tavistock model of child observation, providing opportunities for observational learning through undertaking child observations and seminar groups. You will be encouraged to develop your reflective and analytic skills to evaluate and apply theories and observational skills to social work practice across the lifespan.

  • This module aims to introduce students to key law and policy that social work students will need to know and be able to use in their practice. Specifically, the module will prepare students to be able to apply key legislation and policy in relation to social work practice with children and families, adults with care and support needs and people with mental health problems. Students will gain an awareness of the court systems, both civil and criminal, and the legal basis for the provision of social care services. The module will support students in developing an understanding of the role of social policy and how it influences social work practice, as well as helping students understand how inequalities impact welfare arrangements and the role social workers should have in addressing disadvantages within our society.

Year 2
  • This module aims to develop students’ understanding of critical social work and the social and structural contexts of social work practice.  Drawing on lectures on power, rights and voice, you will assess how you can take account of these issues in social work practice, before considering intersectionality across characteristics including poverty, gender, race, sexuality, disability and others. Critical reflection seminars will help to consider how placement experiences can be understood using the lens of critical social work and as a result there is an applied focus in this module.

  • You will undertake a mandatory 100-day placement and taught content will be delivered through workshops and problem-based learning seminars. The taught content will provide you with an understanding of social work with different groups of people and across different settings. This will involve looking at core skills such as assessment, decision-making, working with risk and multi-disciplinary work and how these are applied differently when working with different groups and in different settings. There will be a focus on professionalism and leadership through problem-based learning seminars and a focus on employability.

  • The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the debates underpinning the process of conducting research and the generation of knowledge in social work. You will discover a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods and the module will enable you to plan our Dissertation and develop critical and analytical reading and writing skills.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including essays, case studies, examinations, presentations and a dissertation.

30 days on social work skills are integrated across the two-year programme at which attendance is mandatory.

Students are required to successfully complete one 70-day and one 100-day practice-learning placement. Practice learning is assessed by experienced practice educators and the production of a portfolio on completion of placement. 


UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:2); or overseas equivalent and Grade C or grade 4 GCSE English and Mathematics or equivalent (Level 2 Functional Skills Maths and English are regarded as an acceptable equivalent).

A minimum of 6 months full time or 12 months part-time relevant experience working with vulnerable adults or children is required at the point of application.

Preference will be given to applicants with a wide range of relevant experience and a 2:2 or above degree classification and overseas applicants must have an equivalent level of experience.



International & EU requirements

English language requirements

MSc Social Work requires:

  • IELTS: 7.0 overall. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 69 overall.  No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
  • TOEFL iBT: 97 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 17.
  • Duolingo: 120 overall, 100 in literacy, 110 in comprehension and 100 in conversation and production.

We will prepare you for a career in a range of social work settings. Once you are qualified as a social worker, you will be able to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professionals Council.  You will also have the option of continuing your academic development through a range of taught post-qualifying programmes and research opportunities within the department. The MSc course also equips you with the subject knowledge and a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.

MSc Social Work graduates from Royal Holloway are actively sought after and recruited by our partner agencies and a wide range of social work employers in diverse and challenging settings.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,000

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £19,100

Other essential costs***: You will need to travel to and from placements and may wish to apply for an NHS bursary to help cover transport costs.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis in the academic year 2024/25. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase all postgraduate tuition fees annually, based on the UK’s Retail Price Index (RPI). Please therefore be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration), and that this also means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.

** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more 

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

The fee information above is for indicative purposes only. 

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rated 4* or 3* world leading or internationally excellent

Source: Research Excellence Framework, 2021

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