This two-year professional programme is designed for people who want to qualify and practise as a professional social worker. The programme leads to a nationally and internationally recognised professional social work qualification and graduates are eligible to register as a qualified social worker with Social Work England.

Qualifying for a postgraduate degree at Bristol means that you will be able to work with both children and adults, helping them to be safe, cope with difficulties and take control of their lives again. You will support people to identify their strengths and build their self-confidence, help them to overcome problems in times of crisis, and link with other services.

The teaching staff at Bristol include experienced practitioners who have worked in a variety of social work settings including child and adult safeguarding, domestic violence and abuse, school social work, foster care, physical and learning difficulties, mental health, youth offending, and hospital social work. At our research-intensive university, the programme's teaching team is also active in research, holding a wide range of funded social work research projects nationally and internationally.

Working as a social worker requires an ability to appraise complex and difficult situations, drawing on social science research, social work theories and methods of intervention. To be considered for enrolment on this programme you will need to demonstrate an understanding of social work (this could be within the United Kingdom or internationally). Upon completion of the programme you will have a thorough understanding of social policies and a firm grasp of the legal powers and duties that underpin practice in England.

The MSc in Social Work combines university-based learning with two extended periods of supervised practice as a student social worker. Your practice placements will consist of at least 170 days of learning across two contrasting practice settings, together with 30 days of skills training. By completing this degree, you will be eligible to register with a social work regulatory body (such as Social Work England) and practise as a qualified professional social worker in a range of settings (including statutory, voluntary, private and independent sectors), and in a number of countries (contingent upon country-specific requirements).

You will develop an understanding of the structural and personal factors that lead to disadvantage, oppression and discrimination, and learn how to apply this understanding to your practice. You will develop values and skills as a reflective practitioner, appraising relevant evidence - including research - to evaluate your own and other people's work and to contribute to the development of policy and practice.

To explore the programme in more depth, view these videos which include interviews with students who have completed our programme.

More general information about the role and duties of social workers in the United Kingdom can be accessed through the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). BASW is the UK's professional membership organisation for social workers.

Programme structure

Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content of our MSc in Social Work.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or international equivalent. English and Mathematics GCSE grade C or above or international equivalent.

Personal Statement must be uploaded (maximum 750 words) demonstrating evidence of interest in social work as a professional qualification and evidence of commitment and motivation to work as a social worker. Relevant work and life experience and understanding of social care, social work and commitment to the values and ethics of social work.

Curriculum Vitae must be uploaded.

Two references required: one academic and one professional (two professional references accepted if graduated more than 2-years ago).

For applicants who are currently completing a degree, we understand that their final grade may be higher than the interim grades or module/unit grades they achieve during their studies.

We will consider applicants whose interim grades are currently slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements. We may make these applicants an aspirational offer. This offer would be at the standard level, so the applicant would need to achieve the standard entry requirements by the end of their degree. Specific module requirements may still apply.

We will consider applicants whose grades are slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements, if they have at least one of the following:

  • evidence of significant, relevant work experience (minimum 6 months) in health/social care sectors.
  • a relevant postgraduate qualification.

If this is the case, applicants should include their CV (curriculum vitae / résumé) when they apply, showing details of their relevant work experience and/or qualifications.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level B.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£10,600 per year
Overseas: full-time
£25,000 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

Each year, the NHS allocates a certain number of bursaries to students on our MSc in Social Work. Following interview, the University notifies successful students if they are being recommended for an NHS bursary. Our bursaries are restricted to students ordinarily resident in England.

If you are interested in being nominated for a bursary, early application to our programme is advised. For full details of eligibility criteria, students should contact the NHS Business Services Authority.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

After successfully completing this master's degree, you will be eligible to register with Social Work England and practise as a qualified professional social worker.