MA Social Work

Start date(s)
September 2023
Study mode
Full-time (2 years)

Tuition fees 22/23 23/24

Home (full-time, per year): £4,052 £4,052

International (full-time, per year): £16,600 £17,400

About this course

Qualify as a social worker on LJMU's Social Work MA, which is approved by Social Work England and caters for all service users in many settings.

  • Develop the necessary knowledge and skills to practice as a qualified social worker in a range of settings
  • Bursaries and funding support available for eligible applicants to help cover the cost of the course
  • Learn from experienced social work practitioners
  • Benefit from two key work placements
  • Enjoy a wide range of teaching and assessment techniques

Cheshire and Merseyside Social Work Teaching Partnership logoSocial Work education at Liverpool John Moores University is provided in collaboration with the Cheshire and Merseyside Social Work Teaching Partnership. Our teaching partnership comprises four Higher Education Institutions, eight Local Authorities, three NHS Trusts and a Voluntary Sector Organisation covering the Liverpool City Region, Warrington Cheshire West and Chester, and West Lancashire.

The Partnership provides well-designed, challenging and sustainable social work education at initial and post-qualifying levels. As practice education is provided in collaboration with the partnership most placements will be drawn from the partnership’s geographical footprint.

Our programme will give you the skills, confidence and ability to: work with people in a caring and professional manner, assess situations for change, write concise and coherent reports and make convincing spoken and written presentations of ideas. You will summarise and present data, work individually and as part of a team and produce solutions to problems.


Social Work England logo

The regulatory body for social work in England is Social Work England. You can read more about its regulatory body role on the Social Work England website.

Upon successful completion of an accredited programme, you are eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England.


  • MA Social Work student Rebecca discusses why she chose to pursue the postgraduate qualification and what it's like to be a student at LJMU.

  • MA Social Work graduate Joseph wins prestigious national award 

    Joseph graduated from our MA Social Work programme in November 2017. In the same month, he was announced as the Silver Award winner for Social Work Student of the Year at the Social Work Awards cer...

    Read more..

Fees and funding

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students


The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:

  • Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
  • Access to programme-appropriate software
  • Library and student IT support
  • Free on-campus wifi via eduroam

Additional costs

Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:

  • accommodation and living expenditure
  • books (should you wish to have your own copies)
  • printing, photocopying and stationery
  • PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)
  • placements (travel expenses and living costs)
  • student visas (international students only)

Image showing assortment of notes and coins.

  • study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
  • academic conferences (travel costs)
  • professional-body membership
  • graduation (gown hire etc)


There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.

Bursaries and funding support

Postgraduate applicants who normally live in England* can apply for a Social Work bursary (SWB) from their first year of study. The SWB is administered by Student Services, part of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Each year, universities are allocated a number of capped places for bursaries. The university nominates selected applicants for a bursary-funded place; LJMU does this based on interview score. Bursaries are paid directly to the university towards the cost of your tuition fees. 

There are two types of SWB: Non-income Assessed and Income Assessed. 

  • For universities outside of London, the Non-income Assessed SWB is worth £3,362.50
  • For universities outside of London, the Income Assessed SWB is up to a maximum of £2,721

The maximum tuition fee contribution the NHSBSA can pay each academic year is £4,052. LJMU’s course fee for MA Social Work is £4,052 for 2022 entry. The fee for 2023 entry will be published in due course.

Other funding support includes the Parental Learning Allowance, Child Care Allowance, and Adult Dependents Allowance, which some applicants may be eligible for. 

For full details of eligibility criteria and exclusions, please visit the NHSBSA Social Work bursary web page.

* The SWB is only available to students who normally live in England and who are ordinarily resident there on the first day of the first academic year of their course. If you normally live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland when you are not attending your social work course, you should apply to your own national funding authority for support. 

You will not be eligible if a social care employer is giving you: 
• any paid time off to allow you to attend your studies 
• payment of all or part of your tuition fees 
• payment from a practice learning provider for undertaking placement duties for them. 

In addition, you will not be eligible if you are receiving: 
• funds through the Department for Education (DfE), excluding student loans 
• any other form of support to assist with your social work training 
• funding from a public body, government benefit agencies and bursaries from your Higher Education Institution.

LJMU Alumni Award Fee Discount

If you are eligible, we may nominate you for a bursary. Please note that you would not be able to have both the LJMU Alumni Award (20% fee discount) and the bursary, so are advised to contact / 0151 231 3513 for further guidance on which may be the most suitable option for you.

Additional costs

Please note that students are required to fund travel to and from both mandatory placements.

2022-23 Fees are expected to be confirmed in May/June 2022. 


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.

Social work is an exciting, intellectually stimulating and emotionally challenging career, enabling you to make a positive difference in the community.

This course enables individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds to work as fully qualified social workers, in a range of settings, catering for all service users.

Image of Postgraduate


The student experience

Discover life as a postgraduate student at LJMU.

All seven modules that make up MA Social Work are Core; this means all students on the course are required to study them. 

Image of students in classroom

Working with Adults
20 credits

This module will enable you to examine, contextualise and critique contemporary social work practice with adults.

The outline syllabus includes:

  • safeguarding adults with care and support needs
  • becoming a user of adult services
  • assessing capacity, risk and choice
  • locating disability: social or medical?
  • working with neglect and self-neglect
  • contemporary issues in mental health
  • key themes in mental health policy and law
  • service users and co-production
  • mental health social work
  • social determinants of mental health
  • safeguarding in mental health services
  • medical social work, aging and the end of life
  • working with people who have learning disabilities
  • strengths-based approaches to working with older people with dementia living in care settings 
  • working with carers and families
  • working with complex risk in mental health services
  • forensic mental health social work
  • parents with mental health issues
  • mental health needs of asylum seekers and refugees

Social Work Knowledge and Skills
20 credits

This module has been designed to help you develop an understanding of the professional social work role and equip you with the basic skills to work effectively in a range of social work contexts.

The outline syllabus includes:

  • the role of the social worker and the importance of professional behaviour
  • ethical principles, values and anti-oppressive practice and their relevance to practice
  • core communication skills and the ability to engage with a diverse range of individuals, groups and communities
  • building effective professional relationships
  • working as a member of an organisation
  • the role of supervision within social work
  • social work methods, concepts and theories for practice situations

Law and Social Policy for Practice
20 credits

This module will provide you with a critical overview of the social policy and legislative context for social work practice.

The outline syllabus includes:

  • introduction to the English legal system
  • equality and human rights legislation
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • introduction mental health law and social policy
  • children and families’ legislation
  • adult safeguarding 
  • key themes of legislation relevant to contemporary social work practice
  • introduction to the Care Act 2014
  • the regulatory framework for social work practice
  • data protection, information sharing and confidentiality

Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice
20 credits

In this module, you will critically appraise the impact of poverty and inequality and critically explore issues of social justice and injustice in relation to service users, carers and social work practice.

Outline syllabus:

  • introduction to key concepts: poverty, inequality and social justice
  • defining and measuring poverty
  • the effect of poverty and inequality on service users
  • social work responses to poverty and inequality: poverty awareness and social justice orientations and limitations
  • power and oppression and their relationship to poverty and inequality
  • ideologies and their influences
  • the role of social work and social workers 
  • social justice and injustice
  • policy stories 
  • poverty awareness and the role of the State

Introduction to Research Methods
20 credits

After completing this module you will be able to demonstrate critical understanding of a range of research methods and sources of evidence, to develop a research proposal within the parameters of legal and ethical protocols.

Outline syllabus:

  • overview of research and debate in social work in relation to the nature and role of evaluation and research methods
  • review of a range of methodologies and research methods and case studies of research related to social work, including practitioner research 
  • the problems and dilemmas of data collection and data analysis
  • ethical issues and social work values in research: moral and social theory
  • designing a research proposal for a Masters level dissertation module: empirical and theoretical issues
  • introduction to research ethics and governance
  • reviewing literature
  • methodology
  • undertaking interviews
  • undertaking focus groups
  • undertaking participatory action research
  • visual methods
  • survey design
  • writing a research proposal or ethics application
  • online training

Social Work Specialist Practice - Children
20 credits

This module will help you to understand the complexity of specialist practice in child and family social work and develop the associated skills.

Outline syllabus:

  • role of the children and families social worker 
  • working with families where there is resistance to change / use of Signs of Safety approach
  • Assessment in child care
  • child protection: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse within the family
  • child sexual and criminal exploitation
  • communicating with children
  • inter-agency working, examples of parents with learning disabilities, mental health issues, who abuse substances and their families, domestic violence, and parental perspectives
  • working preventively as well as protectively, the example of disabled children and their families 
  • working with youth offenders and their families
  • asylum seeking children
  • working with children with emotional and behavioural issues
  • the child and families social worker in conferences
  • the child and families social worker in court 
  • working with looked after children, challenges of balancing best interests with rights; 'consumer' perspectives of care and of what makes for an effective social worker
  • experiences of leaving care
  • kinship care
  • rehabilitation home of children from care
  • placement of children in foster care, residential care and adoptive homes

60 credits

The dissertation module gives you the opportunity to explore, in-depth, a topic of interest and relevance to contemporary social work policy and practice. You will use the skills you developed in the Research Methods module to conduct an empirical or literature based approach.

You will be supported throughout your dissertation through a combination of lectures, small group seminars, workshops and individual supervision. The smaller group seminars will deal with emerging issues related to methodology, data analysis and the relationship to professional practice. 

You will have the opportunity to attend a number of masterclasses delivered by practicing researchers to highlight some of the opportunities and challenges within research projects and to illustrate the links between theory and practice.  

Attending the Research Café seminar series, monthly research seminars and workshops focussing on using computer packages to help organise research data will also enhance your dissertation experience.


An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

The MA Social Work degree is a full-time course.

In year one, you will have up to four days on site study per week and one day for independent or virtual learning. You will also go on a 70 day full-time placement. Independent learning hours vary from module to module. 

In year two, on site study will normally be reduced to three days per week, with two days for independent or virtual learning. You will also undertake a 100 day full-time placement, with additional time to complete your dissertation.

Please note: students are required to fund travel to and from both mandatory placements.

Teaching methods

You will mainly be taught by registered social work practitioners who are also expert teachers, researchers and writers. Tutors have good practice connections in the local area ensuring that course content is always informed by the latest practice.

Staff use a wide variety of teaching methods. Interactive lectures involve a range of student-centred learning approaches, including small group work, role-play, discussion and case studies. Specialist IT and online resources are also used. Practical sessions involve live enactments to enhance communication and interpersonal skills.

The course benefits from Liverpool’s diverse and vibrant culture. The city’s excellent art galleries and museums, for example, offer ample opportunities for critical reflection, with the world renowned International Slavery Museum used to explore the roots of oppression. In addition to this, the varied life stages and experiences of the students themselves create a rich learning environment for all.

Applied learning

The course is designed to balance academic learning and the development of social work skills. There is a strong emphasis on integrating practice and theory, with the purpose of producing theoretically informed and highly competent practitioners. The curriculum is mapped against the QAA Benchmark Statement for Social Work, the Professional Standards (Social Work England) and the Professional Capabilities Framework (BASW).

Watch our video where MA Social Work placement co-ordinators and Senior Lecturers Mel and Phil discuss all things placements.


Social work is a complex and demanding profession that requires a particular combination of intellectual ability, analytical skills, and personal qualities such as emotional resilience, empathy and the ability and willingness to use role-based authority when needed (SWRB, 2011).

"The learning journey that was provided by LJMU and the teachers, for me, was second to none. Each lesson was structured, at a pace that was manageable, and each teacher was fully prepared to answer all questions posed, in fact actively encouraged us to question, think outside the box, and clarify back to check for learning."

Jackie Costello, Graduate


How learning is monitored on your programme

To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.

You will be continually assessed via essays, group and individual presentations, self-assessment questionnaires and practice learning reports. The research paper, completed as part of the dissertation module, offers the chance to make a real impact.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

The most rewarding aspect of my role is one-to-one supervision and tutorial support, particularly when students are struggling with academic work and/or difficult circumstances. It has been a great source of pleasure seeing a number of those who were close to failing or quitting succeed against the odds and become effective practitioners.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

Situated in the City Campus, the School of Nursing and Allied Health works with a wide range of health and social care organisations to design, deliver and evaluate a dynamic suite of postgraduate programmes. In addition to specialist facilities, you will find high quality meeting and seminar rooms and lecture theatres, the Avril Robarts Library which is open 24/7 during semesters plus a large café, IT facilities and social spaces.

Order your brochure Research

Entry requirements

You will need:

  • normally an undergraduate honours degree minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree. Applicants with a 2:2 will be considered on a case by case basis, particularly in relation to under-represented groups, those with caring responsibilities, care leavers and applicants who have considerable work experience
  • relevant paid or voluntary work experience and the ability to relate this to the skills and values of social work and understanding of social work roles.  Related personal experience will also be considered alongside relevant practice-based experience
  • Evidence of some form of formal or informal, paid or voluntary personal experience in the social care arena, and/or a commitment to ‘citizenship’ or community related activities
  • English key skills/GCSE Grade C/4. We will also consider the following Level 2 qualifications in place of English Language GCSE Grade C/4 or above: Key Skills, City and Guilds, OCR (via Learn Direct) and ALAN

Additional information

  • IELTS 7.0 (minimum 7.0 in each component)    
  • RPL is accepted on this programme
  • Our recruitment and selection process has a commitment to addressing widening participation and inclusion
  • As with professionally qualified social workers, trainee social workers must be physically and mentally fit. You will be asked for information about this and you may be asked for permission to approach your doctor
  • We are seeking to recruit people who demonstrate: a commitment to social justice; concern about social issues and the desire to do something about them; a desire to enter a profession that works to support problem-solving in human relationships and promotes social change;  an ability to reflect on their personal life experiences and work experiences and express how this has influenced their decision to apply for social work and the capacity to be a reflective and critical thinker

  • International students entering on a Student visa cannot study part-time.

If you have any specific queries, please contact

Image of student in library with book

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Satisfactory Medical Clearance/Examination: We will contact you directly to undertake this.

Satisfactory Enhanced DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service - formerly CRB): We will contact you directly to undertake this and further information can be found at

In addition, applicants will need to follow Faculty procedures for declaring any convictions after interview. Any criminal convictions, police cautions and disciplinary matters, including those that are spent must be declared. A DBS check will be made when you join the course.

A criminal conviction or a period of ill-health will not automatically debar you from the course as decisions are made on an individual basis. If there is anything about this that you wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

View country specific entry requirements

Contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for guidance on visa information. Further information is also available from our international web pages.

Application and selection

Securing your place at LJMU

You will apply for this course via UCAS.

LJM Institution code: L51 Course Code: L508

Please take care to ensure you have completed all relevant parts of the UCAS application form as incomplete application forms will not be accepted and we are unable to process amendments.

We shortlist applicants based on current qualifications, predicted grades, references and UCAS personal statements. The assessment process for social work candidates is directed by Social Work England's requirements. 

If shortlisted, you will be invited to an assessment day where comprehension and communication skills, commitment to personal and professional values and the potential to develop professional knowledge and skills will be assessed. An interview, written exercise and group-based task form part of the selection process. Service users and carers/or practitioners will be involved in the selection process and involved in the assessment day.

Please note: This course will only run subject to minimum numbers.

Image of Students in classroom

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.

Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.