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Professional Doctorate in Social Work - MSW


About This Professional Doctorate

Course Description

The Durham MSW is a 21 month programme engaging students with the knowledge, skills and values that underpin social work practice with individuals, groups and communities. Academic study is complemented by two practice placements with different service user groups. Practice experience of statutory interventions with children and families or ‘vulnerable adults’ is complemented by opportunities for innovative practice in the voluntary and independent sectors in areas such as family justice, homelessness, substance use, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, community interventions and self-advocacy. With strong involvement of service users, carers and practice partners throughout the programme, the MSW provides strong foundations for practice in any field of social work.

Local and global perspectives 

Our approach to social work education reflects the connections between individuals, their families and communities. We offer you a broad foundation for social work practice underpinned by the global definition of social work and emphasise the connections between local and global issues in social work. Shared learning alongside postgraduate students studying International Social Work and Community Development, and Community and Youth Work, provides valuable opportunities for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

Excellent employment prospects  

There is very strong demand for Durham MSW graduates by employers in local authorities and non-government organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. Durham MSW graduates have been able to transfer their registration to other countries including Australia, Canada, Scotland and the USA. 

Course Structure

The MSW is structured around seven modules designed to meet the academic and practice learning requirements for a degree in social work.

Year 1 

  • Social Work in Practice (40 credits): Understanding perspectives of service users and carers; social exclusion; social policy and law for social work 
  • Social Work in Context (40 credits): Human growth and development through the life course, disability and mental health; social work theories and methods; working in organisations
  • Professional and Personal Development (30 credits): Principles, values and ethics; critical thinking and evidence-based practice; skills development; Interprofessional working 
  • Social Work Practice 1 (50 credits): 70-day practice placement in a partner agency.

Year 2

  • Research in Social Work (45 credits): Research and evaluation design and methods; ethical issues in social welfare research; dissertation
  • Advanced Social Work (30 credits): Advanced application of theories and methods; critical analysis of social work policy; protection and empowerment of vulnerable children, young people and adults
  • Social Work Practice 2 (70 credits): 100-day practice placement. 

Course Learning and Teaching

The MSW is full-time, starting in early October and continuing over 21 months. The programme does NOT run to university terms. There are approximately 12 weeks of vacation, including public holidays, during the course of the whole programme. In Year 1 the first four months are spent developing the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare you for your first practice placement of 70 days. In Year 2 you undertake a 100 day placement with a different service user group and in a contrasting setting where you will gain experience of statutory interventions in social work. Practice placements provide the opportunity to develop a range of skills set out in the Professional Capabilities Framework. You also extend your skills in linking theory, policy and practice, and undertake a research dissertation.

Assessment

A range of assessment methods is used including essays, observation studies, project reports, case studies, group and individual presentations. Knowledge and understanding of social work law and policy is assessed in a take away exercise. Before embarking on the first placement, you will undergo a practical assessment of your communication skills in readiness for direct practice. Practice placements are assessed by critically reflective accounts of work with individuals, groups or communities and by your practice educator who provides regular supervision and observes your practice. You are also expected to seek, and reflect on, feedback from service users and professional colleagues. Research in Social Work is assessed through a 10,000 word dissertation.

Practice Placements

Placements normally take place in the north east region and students are required to travel independently to these.


Visit the Social Work - MSW page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Please View Website for details

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Recipient: Durham University

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