University of Chester

Programme Specification
Social Work MA
2016 - 2017

Master of Arts

Social Work

Social Work

University of Chester

University of Chester, Faculty of Health and Social Care

Warrington Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

3 years

6 Years

Annual - January

U500

Yes

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  1. QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Social Work (2008).
  2. HCPC standards of proficiency for social workers
  3. HCPC standards of education and training (2009).

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Faculty of Health and Social care, Social Work Module Assessment Board

Friday 1st March 2013

Social workers have obligations to service users and carers, and to their employers and the legislative framework. Social workers are required to make accurate judgements, based on accurate observations, in complex and demanding situations; and to handle their interventions in people’s lives sensitively, but also on occasion with professional authority, using a range of theories and models according to the ethical precepts and knowledge base of the profession.

This programme is predicated on the assumption that knowledge, skills and professional social work values, ethics and conduct must be developed and used with due recognition of the societal, political and human contexts in which social workers operate, and in adherence to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Education and Training (SETs); Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, and BASW Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Workers (PCF).

This is not a simple mechanistic task; therefore the teaching and assessment of student social workers need to reflect the nature of this complex profession. The overarching aim of the programme is to support and enable students to develop and advance their generic skills and specialised knowledge of social work practice, so that they meet the different thresholds for progression required in regards to the PCF, namely: the assessment of readiness for direct practice; the assessment at the end of their first 70 day placement; and the final assessment at the end of their last 100 day placement. This will involve the integration of high quality academic and practice learning throughout the course, and the formal processes of judging and assessing the students' progression in a robust and holistic way for each capability using the PCF.

The academic and practice-based assessment strategies adopted will ensure that only those students who have successfully achieved 120 postgraduate credits, and who have met the PCF capabilities and the standards of proficiency at qualifying level, are eligible to apply for registration as a Social Worker with the HCPC and feel prepared for their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) .There is an expectation that as postgraduate students they will participate fully in all aspects of the educational aims of the programme, for example:

  • To develop and promote the skills of critical, analytical and reflective thinking.
  • To develop their ability to assess and meet the social care needs of service users, using an anti-oppressive practice perspective, applying social work values and meeting the requirements of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (2008).
  • To develop students' professional identity and their ability to work collaboratively with service users, carers, social care workers and social workers, and with workers in their own and in other agencies on an inter-professional basis.
  • To ensure that social work students are able to respond to the constantly changing policy context and uncertainty within which social care, health and education policies are being implemented.

Students will be able to:

  • critically evaluate theoretical knowledge, including evidence from research, in a way which enables them to identify its relevance and critically apply that knowledge to social work practice (All modules).
  • develop their own independent study and research skills especially within areas of academic assignments and work placements to enhance their own individual knowledge and understanding of relevant topics and processes. The ethos of  becoming 'research minded' and a 'critical practitioner' as students develop and qualify is promoted throughout the programme (All modules). 

All modules will foster this aspect of student development, particularly the research module in the final year which encourages a synthesis of the student's own knowledge and interest in researching more deeply and independently.   

Students will be able to:

  • Use advanced cognitive skills to interrelate concepts and appropriate methodologies from published sources, and from current social work practice, to enable them to assess and intervene in complex social situations (All modules).
  • Demonstrate that they are continuously reflecting on their classroom- and placement-based experiences in a way which ensures that they understand and internalise the principles of best practice and are able to transfer these from working in one social situation to another (All modules).
  • Adapt and develop creative and considered options and strategies to help problem solve a wide range of challenging situations on an on going basis. These skills are embedded in all the modules, both in the classroom and in placements, via nurturing a continual process of exploring taught and researched knowledge, applying it to hypothetical and real situations, and then learning from it, is intrinsic to the holistic nature of social work and the programme (All modules).      

Students will be able to:

  • follow agency policies and procedures, and critically evaluate the extent to which documentation and procedures are effective in meeting professional standards of social work practice and national policy guidelines (All modules).
  • Be aware during the programme and throughout  their careers that their skills in practice will need to be continually assessed and developed. The range of skills developed will often be shaped by the skill module, placements and future work setting that the students embark upon, but key transferable practice skills will be worked on and achieved by students through the course of the programme (All modules).
  • Develop self-management skills in organising learning and in taking responsibility for casework in placements. Time management skills, as a consequence of the particularly demanding nature of this programme, and as a consequence of working in situations of ambiguity and uncertainty during placements, will be supported and expected of students by programme tutors and work placements (All modules).
  • Work with a wide range of service users and carers and students will have had experience in, and are expected to continue to work collaboratively and professionally with other students and with lecturing staff, and with other professionals during placements (All modules).

Again, the blended approach of theoretical and skill based learning is integral to all modules on the programme, and is particularly evidenced via the Readiness for Practice and placement modules (All modules).

Students will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with service users and carers in a way which demonstrates their ability to share information about a person's social situation and make judgements about the actions which might be taken to meet people's social needs (All modules).
  • Empower service users and carers to become actively involved in meeting their own needs. To facilitate this, social work students will be competent in communicating effectively with colleagues, with other professionals and within their own organisation, to ensure that resources are available to meet people's social care needs (All modules).
  • Be mindful of different modes of communication, whether in person or via technology, and the skills and resources required to utilise these effectively and professionally (All modules).
  • Be aware of the variety of ways individuals may communicate and will be mindful of communication barriers, including language, non-verbal cues, disability, and cognition, and how to address these as sensitively as possible (All modules).  

Communication is fundamental to social work, and this is expressed and assessed across all modules in classroom discussions, written assignments, and group tasks. Specifically, communication skills such as interviewing service users and carers is assessed via role play practices and video recordings in the Readiness to Practice module, as well as observations by Practice Educators of student communication, both written and verbal, whilst on placement (All modules).

The underlying philosophy of the programme is to promote a critically reflective and responsive, teaching and learning level 7 experience.

The Social Work programme team are committed to the principles of adult learning, particularly by encouraging experiential learning. This is underpinned by our commitment to high standards of professional conduct and ethics, as expected by the Health and Care Professions Council. The programme has established a successful relationship in the involvement of stakeholders, service users and carers within the admissions process, programme design, delivery and student assessment.

Our commitment to providing an excellent learning environment is based on a critically reflective partnership between staff, stakeholders, service users and carers and students, incorporating staff student liaison meetings and programme committee meetings which student representatives and stakeholders regularly attend. 

All modules are designed and will be delivered in accordance with FHEQ, using their credit level descriptors as a reference point. The teaching and learning strategies employed in each module are those appropriate to the achievement of the module aims, learning outcomes and objectives in the context of the following general criteria:      

  1. That methods of learning and teaching are primarily directed at facilitating the development of support, challenging and empowering the students, and achieving integration of the components of their course.       
  2. That methods of learning and teaching are congruent with the ethics, values and principles of professional social work practice, and of informal experiential education, and facilitate a process of learning through observing, reflective listening, critical reflection, critical analysis and synthesis, and acting.        
  3. That methods of learning and teaching are appropriate to the aims, learning outcomes and objectives of the modules, as well as the strengths and needs of the students.    
  4. That methods of learning develop students\' understanding of ‘best’ social work practice and wherever appropriate include service user and carer, inter-professional and international perspectives.      
  5. That assessment is by a variety of methods designed to identify intellectual, interpersonal, intra-personal and practical skills.

The programme curriculum will fully embed and adhere to the integration of the HCPC Standards of Education and Training in all of the pre- and initial qualifying domains to ensure that students develop generic professional capabilities, and that their learning covers all ages, service user groups and all kinds of social work intervention.

The College of Social Work (informed by the Social Work Taskforce 2010 and The Munro Review Report 2010) provided guidance to pre-qualifying social work programme providers in relation to the curriculum design, stating that programmes should ensure that there are opportunities for students to undertake studies in depth in one or more areas. We have incorporated two specialist modules in the second year of the programme prior to students undertaking their final 100 day practice placement. These modules provide opportunities for students to learn about social work practice with children and families, social work practice with adults including adults with learning and physical disabilities, mental health issues, substance misuse problems, working with older people and people who have dementia, and end of life issues, so that students are enabled to work with individuals and families across all age groups.

NB:The College of Social Work closed in 2015 with many of its functions being taken over by BASW

Students must also learn about the transitions that need to be considered when service users and their families/carers receive support from more than one social work agency or move to another. This requirement is incorporated into the two modules noted above, and is also included in the first year module Human Growth and Development. They must also learn the core importance of working effectively through building a relationship with individuals, families, groups and communities, in cases including relationship stress or breakdown; behavioural or parenting problems; neglect, violence and abuse of children and adults, including domestic violence; poverty, mental distress and ill health; substance misuse and addictions; disability; physical ill-health, dementia and dying/end of life; and immigration, especially for refugees and asylum seekers.

These requirements are embedded in the two previous noted modules and within the Human Growth and Development, Social Work Law and Ethics and Applied Sociology and Social Policy modules. In addition, the requirements are embedded in the Readiness for Direct Practice module and the on-going practice skills development sessions which run throughout the programme.

Students will have many opportunities during the programme to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills of applying a range of methods and models; to practise relationship building, interviewing and communication skills; and to demonstrate the development of their professionalism and professional identity, ethics and values in practical workshops, working with a diverse range of service users, carers and current practitioners in role play sessions within the Readiness for Direct Practice module. 

The Readiness to Practice Role Play Assessment is mandatory, as this must be passed before they are able to go out into their first 70 day placement. All of the above noted requirements will be further enhanced within the Research methods module, which will provide the opportunity for students to specialise and develop an in-depth focus on an area of social work practice in relation to their research proposal. The module also incorporates a reflective workbook within which students record their learning and development of professional skills and values. This is discussed with and assessed by a tutor individually, so that students are both supported and encouraged to take responsibility for their own skill development, and forms a basis for the student's placement portfolios, as well as the reflective portfolio required in the first year in employment.    

The second year modules Social Work Practice with Children and Families, Social Work Practice with Adults and Research Methods will build upon and advance their development of knowledge and understanding from the previous year's modules, and prepare students for their final 100 day placement within an agency setting that involves statutory interventions. By the end of this placement, it is anticipated that students will be prepared for and able to demonstrate the threshold requirements for entry to professional practice. The modules provide students with the opportunity to critically examine the key aspects of professional decision making in social work, to study in depth both the principles underpinning and the skills required for effective assessment and intervention in diverse areas of social work practice, including risk and risk management. These modules further encourage students to reflect critically and analytically on how to practise in ways that are anti-discriminatory/anti-oppressive and inclusive of service user/carer perspectives.

International perspectives and working in a variety of organisational contexts are also critically explored. The Research methods module enables students to choose an area of social work practice/provision to undertake an in-depth study, to explore and apply appropriate research methods, and produce a research proposal.The academic and practice learning team look forward to providing both a challenging and supportive postgraduate programme of social work study. All modules in the programme are compulsory.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SW7021 7 Human Growth and Development Across the Life Course 20 Comp
SW7022 7 Applied Sociology and Social Policy 20 Comp
SW7023 7 Social Work Law and Ethics 20 Comp
SW7024 7 Readiness for Direct Practice 0 Comp
SW7025 7 Placement 1 0 Comp
SW7026 7 Social Work Practice with Children and Families 20 Comp
SW7027 7 Social Work Practice with Adults 20 Comp
SW7029 7 Placement 2 0 Comp
SW7033 7 Introduction to Social Work Research 20 Comp
SW7034 7 Social Work Dissertation 60 Comp

Students are only able to proceed to Year 2 of the programme if they have successfully completed the practice placement and all of the modules in Year 1 (codes SW7021; SW7022; SW7023, SW7024 and SW7025) of study. This requirement prevents a situation occurring where a student could proceed to the second practice placement without having successfully completed any of the taught modules. The failure of module SW7025 but the successful completion of modules: SW7021 Human Growth and Development (20 credits), SW7023 Social Work Law and Ethics (20 credits), and SW7022 Applied Sociology and Social Policy (20 credits) obtaining a total of 60 credits will lead to an exit award of Postgraduate Certificate in Welfare Studies. This does not confer any professional qualification.

The completion of SW7024 Readiness for Direct Practice and SW7025 Practice Placement 1 (note that these are not credit bearing modules) in addition to the first year 60 credits (above), plus the successful completion of modules:SW7027 Social Work Practice with Adults (20 credits), SW7026 Social Work Practice with Children and Families (20 credits), and SW7033 Introduction to Social Work Research (20 credits), obtaining a total of 120 credits, but where a student fails their SW7029 Practice Placement 2 students will lead to an exit award of Postgraduate Diploma in Welfare Studies. This does not confer any professional qualification.

Successful completion of codes SW7021, SW7022; SW7023; SW7024; SW7025; SW7026; SW7027, SW7033 and SW7029 Practice Placement 2 (amounting to a total of 120 credits) will lead to an exit award of Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. This will also lead to the students' eligibility to apply to the HCPC for their professional qualification in Social Work.

Successful completion of codes SW7021, SW7022; SW7023; SW7024; SW7025; SW7026; SW7027, SW7033, SW7029 Practice Placement 2 and SW7034 (amounting to a total of 180 credits) will lead to an exit award of MA Social Work. This will also lead to the students' eligibility to apply to the HCPC for their professional qualification in Social Work.

No compensation between modules is allowed.  Students are required to pass all modules in Year 1 before proceeding into Year 2. 

All components within modules must be passed with minimum percentage marks of 40%.

The programme is validated and approved by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Students are required to register with the HCPC in order to practice as qualified social workers once they have  obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. This diploma can only be obtained by passing all modules on the programme, except for the dissertation module, SW7034. Students have the option to continue to obtain the full Masters (MA) in Social Work by completing the dissertation module, SW7034.

Qualifying students are expected to maintain their registration for the duration of their career in Social Work. 

The College of Social Work Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) Entry Level Capabilities, and the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC) Standards of Education and Training (SETS) guidance for programme admissions are used throughout our shortlisting and interviewing assessment process; this ensures that candidates selected meet the entry level requirements. All prospective students fulfilling the shortlisting criteria will be invited to the formal interview day, where applicants will attend an individual interview which involves the input of either a service user, carer or social work practitioner as well as an academic member of staff, and complete a written exercise which is assessed by an academic.

Representatives of service users, carers and employers are fully involved in the selection process. The programme has a clear English context, equipping students to be eligible to register as social workers with the HCPC. Whilst all modules have regard to issues of cultural sensitivity and some students may join the programme as residents in Wales, the programme is not specifically designed for the Welsh context. Whilst we may be able to secure some practice learning opportunities in Wales, these are  extremely limited, and currently Welsh based students are not able to access bursaries for English Universities. Students are advised to seek further information from the Care Council for Wales about registration as a social worker in Wales on completion of a programme of study outside of Wales (www.ccwales.org.uk)

For our postgraduate programme the standard we require from applicants is a minimum of a 2:1 degree upon entry. However, in circumstances where applicants have extensive social care working experience we would consider a 2:2 first degree. This reflects the fact that the more intensive Masters level programme requires students to arrive ready to move rapidly through academic learning, and also to enter practice placements sooner than on the undergraduate programme. In addition, all applicants must demonstrate (prior to enrolment) that they have obtained the following:

  • Demonstration of a commitment to social care work through completion of substantial (3 months full-time equivalent) care working experience in a social care setting, either on a paid or voluntary basis or, demonstration of a commitment to social care work through completion of substantial (3 months full-time equivalent) personal life experience relating to social care issues/contexts, for example as a family carer for an adult with enduring mental health issues.
  • GCSE grade C (or above) in English Language and Mathematics. 
  • Applicants who obtained their English language qualification outside of the UK will have the qualification examined by the Awards Body and applicants  may subsequently be asked to obtain IELTS - a score of 7.0 overall and with no category scoring below 6.5 will then be required.
  • A basic ability to use IT effectively.
  • Suitable reference from either an academic tutor and/or a work based supervisor.
  • Satisfactory completion of an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service and a satisfactory Declaration of Health form.  

Health checks:

The Social Work programme will adhere to the University of Chester’s Faculty of Health and Social Care Professional Suitability Procedures. In accordance with the College of Social Work and the Health and Care Professions Council requirements, all students will be required to confirm that they do not have any physical or mental health condition that would affect their ability to carry out the role of a social worker. On acceptance of a place at the University of Chester, the applicant will be sent a Declaration of Health form in which they are asked to declare any physical or mental health condition that could affect their ability to safely carry out the role of the social worker, and which states that if they are in doubt about the relevance of any issue they should declare it.

Students will be advised on signing these forms that failure to declare anything relevant which is subsequently discovered could lead to termination of their training. The completed form will be returned to the Occupational Health department at the University of Chester where the information on the form is assessed. If Occupational Health considers that further information about a student's declared condition is required, they will request the student’s agreement to seek further information from their general practitioner or consultant. The student’s application would not proceed without the students’ consent to this further enquiry. If Occupational Health considers that a prospective student is not suitable to commence social work training, they will make a statement to the University of Chester to that effect. Decisions which are made arising from concerns about prospective students' health will draw on any guidance which is provided by the HCPC. Annual declaration of good conduct and good health forms are completed by students at the start of each academic year. Any issue arising from a declaration on these forms will be addressed by the Head of Department or Occupational Health. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to commence the Practice Placement 1 module without a satisfactory health check having been processed.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS): 

Students who accept a place at the University of Chester will be provided with information, prior to taking up their place, which informs them that they will be required to complete the Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure application form during the week following their enrolment at the University of Chester. The information that is sent will remind them that they have already made a declaration on the form submitted at their Interview Day and that they are required to declare all convictions or cautions  however minor. Students are also required to declare whether they have been barred from engaging in regulated activity with either children or vulnerable adults. The information will advise them that non-declaration of offences will be considered a serious matter, and that should a check which is returned by the DBS identify any offence which has not been previously declared, the failure to disclose may result in the initiation of the Professional Suitability Procedure, and the result of initiating this procedure could lead to the termination of the student’s training.

If a student had declared on their form that they have a conviction or caution and have provided information about any offences, a panel will be convened to consider whether the application should be considered by the University of Chester. The panel will include a senior management representative of a social services department. Should the DBS check result in the identification of a criminal conviction which has not been disclosed, a panel will meet to decide on further action. Consideration will be given to initiating the Student Disciplinary Procedure. The initiation of the Professional Suitability Procedure may result in the student’s studies being terminated. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to commence the Practice Placement 1 module without a satisfactory DBS check having been processed. We aim to recruit approximately 25-30 students each year – having smaller class sizes enables us to offer high quality practice placement experiences for students in a highly competitive area; we are also able to provide higher levels of support and increased opportunities in developing some inter-professional learning.

AP(E)L arrangements:

Social work programmes of study are not allowed to AP(E)L claims against any practice elements of the programme (i.e. the 170 days). There are therefore limited opportunities for AP(E)L, but successful applicants will be invited to submit claims to the programme for exemption from specific units of academic study by demonstrating equivalence of study undertaken, where this is appropriate and in line with university procedures.

Subject Benchmark Statements and other requirements

The QAA Benchmark Statements for Social Work (2008), The Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Education and Training (2009) and Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers (2012), and The College of Social Work Professional Capabilities Framework (2012) provide an analysis of the component elements of the broad area of capability or performance in which social work students are required to demonstrate their competence. The learning process in the cognitive and affective domains will involve students in progressively enhancing their capability and performance, through a developing ability to integrate what they learn in the classroom with their practice experience during the two placements, which are placed in the programme so that they occur in each of the two years of study.

However, the staff team recognises that the development of learning and performance will take place at a different pace for individual students. Students' learning is dependent on their ability to identify how the material contained in the academic benchmark statement (QAA Subject Benchmark Statements for Social Work, 2008) and the Professional Capabilities Framework domains for learning and assessment will enable them to develop a systematic and coherent approach to their learning. Students are also required to abide by the Professional Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (HCPC, 2008).

The staff team considers that the teaching and learning which occurs in the classroom, the individual and group tutorials which take place with their personal academic tutor, and the practice-based supervision which takes place during placements, will all support students in the learning process expected at level 7. The social work staff team will ensure that students who are awarded an MA in Social Work will have demonstrated a standard of capability and performance which have met the requirements of the threshold standard of achievement as outlined in the QAA Benchmark Statement for Social Work, the HCPC Standards of Proficiency. The social work staff team will strive to ensure that all students are encouraged to reach the highest/model standard of achievement. Please note that the mapping of a range of the required benchmarks can be found in separate documents, and that the QAA Subject Benchmark Statements are located in the Programme Management Document.

A range of approaches to teaching and learning using both didactive and interactive methods will be used, and are designed to facilitate the achievement of all module learning outcomes required at level 7 within a student-centred approach. All of the modules will utilise e-learning activities (e.g. on-line sessions; discussion boards, and quizzes etc.) via a dedicated Moodle module section. This will ‘house’ all session materials along with further directed reading (pertinent e-books and on-line journals will be signposted) and will provide links to relevant websites and forums. All non-role-play or portfolio assignments will be submitted on-line.  All of the modules are compulsory, and the teaching and learning methods are designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes and to promote personal and professional development. For example:

  • Interactive lectures in which the tutor will be encouraging student discussion and enquiry.
  • Case studies relating to practice-based scenarios and complexities utilising role play simulations.
  • Group work activities.
  • Tutorials and blended learning. 
  • Problem-based and solution-focused learning.
  • Experiential learning activities in practice contexts.
  • Audio-visual materials.
  • Assessment related work activities informing formative assessments.
  • Peer learning (involving inter-professional learning).
  • Tutor directed/self-directed learning.
  • Reflective learning recordings.
  • Debriefing sessions following role play and practice contexts.

The programme team are fully committed to fostering the personal and professional development of all students, congruent with an underpinning emphasis on the development of professional ethics, values and principles. Service users/carers and subject or practice-based experts have been involved in the design of the programme, and will be involved and contribute to its delivery, ensuring the currency of both the information and the learning. This will also ensure that our programme and our students are able to compete with other providers and students in the region for high quality practice placement opportunities. The critical development and enhancement of student knowledge and understanding will be promoted and developed, for example by their involvement in discussions and debates; project work; case studies involving assessments and interventions using role-play; and tutorials with module leaders and their personal academic tutor.  Intellectual skills will be developed through facilitative approaches during interactive lectures, seminar presentations, tutorials, discussion groups, problem-based learning, and learning and reflecting through practice.  Further information is presented within the Programme Management Document, but in summary, methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Learning contracts.
  • Individual and group tutorials.
  • Audio-visual materials.
  • Presentations and debates.
  • Scenario-based learning sessions.
  • Critical reflection.
  • Formal lectures.
  • Directed study.
  • Private study sessions.
  • Blended learning.
  • Direct social work practice.

Students who experience difficulty in meeting the requirements of (Masters) level 7 study will be able and encouraged to access the Student Support and Guidance department. The programme will provide a full and detailed induction process, including support mechanisms, library services, and an introduction for students to the differences between undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study. An early opportunity for a diagnostic assignment will be provided to facilitate students' progress at this level of study. Placements are an integral part of the programme, and students will be required to demonstrate an ability to meet the level of practice competence outlined in the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for social workers. In this process, which is supported by practice supervisors and practice assessors, students will be expected to work on an increasingly autonomous basis, consulting where appropriate, in increasingly complex social situations.

The assessment strategies and methods selected for the integration of academic and practice learning throughout the programme will build upon the standards laid down by the HCPC Standards for Education and Training (SET 6) at the different thresholds for progression. The PCF sets out the profession's expectations of what social workers should be able to do at each stage of their career and professional development. It will be used as a formal process for supporting judgements within the assessments about the students' progression in a holistic way for each capability, which will take place at three formal stages during the two year programme, namely: 

  1. Readiness for Direct Practice (as a precursor to the progression to the first practice placement in year 1).
  2. End of first placement (at the end of year 1, and as a precursor to the progression to year 2).
  3. End of last placement (at the end of year 2, and as a precursor to the progression of entry to their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) as a qualified social worker).

The final assessment of students will integrate assessment of learning in practice and the university-based modules in relation to the PCF and HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers (SoP). This will inform decisions about the student's suitability for practice and will be linked to the exit route. It is anticipated that the comprehensive and holistic assessment strategies adopted will support the high quality of learning delivered, and provide for a rigorous and robust threshold entry to qualified professional social work practice. The programme will also utilise a range of academic module assessment methods that reflect the nature and requirements of a pre-qualifying social work programme. Students will be required to write essays which will involve them in critically analysing and evaluating issues which arise in complex practice case scenarios; these have been developed and constructed from real life contexts. Students will be required to undertake an exam; review a social work text book; deliver a presentation; and complete a reflective learning log and a critically reflective practice learning portfolio during each placement. Students will need to meet the requirements of the practice placements by identifying work which they have been responsible for which meets the requirements of the PCF and the SoPs in all domains.

It is a requirement of the programme that feedback is sought from service users on all placements, and this must be evidenced in the portfolio. Assessment of both practice placements will be undertaken by a suitably qualified practice educator who is a registered social worker with the HCPC and has a Practice Teaching Award . Students will be continuously assessed during practice, and will have three practice educator assessments involving direct observations of their interventions with service users/carers in each of their practice placements. Students will spend at least 170 days in practice settings. Prior to undertaking their first 70 day placement, students will need to pass the Readiness for Direct Practice assessment as previously outlined. Each student will have experience:

  • In at least two practice settings (if they pass all the first year modules).
  • Of statutory social work tasks involving legal interventions.
  • Of providing service to at least two user groups (e.g. child care and mental health).

Students will be required to demonstrate a critically reflective and systematic understanding of the knowledge base related to the profession of social work, and a critically reflective awareness and understanding of the complex social issues experienced by people who are in difficulty/crisis and who have a range of complex social care needs. 

Students who are awarded the Masters degree or Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work will typically possess the following characteristics: 

  • A systematic understanding of the knowledge basis related to social work, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the social work field of study and area of professional practice. 
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research. Postgraduate social work students will demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline. Students will be encouraged to become research-based practitioners. 
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the social work student to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline, and evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, particularly in reference to the evidence-based practice movement and the broader inter-professional arenas. 

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to: 

  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences. 
  • Operate at a level commensurate with the PCF and SoPs at the beginning professional social worker role and in accordance with the HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2008). 
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving professional and organisational problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level (within the broad remits of their role). 
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level, being committed to their continuing professional development through their career.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The design of the programme takes into account the demographic make up of the student group, paying particular attention to the caring responsibilities that students tend to have. A wide variety of teaching and assessment methods are employed to ensure that students from different groups with different learning styles are not unduly disadvantaged within the broad university structures. The social work staff group are proud of their delivery of a substantial structure for student support that continues through the programme and includes time spent out on placement. Finally, the programme works directly with  service users and carers which provides access for students to the real experiences of social work.  Not only is this delivered in the classroom (and, of course, during placement), but each student is interviewed by a service user and/or qualified practitioner and a lecturer prior to entry to the programme.

The programme is unusual in the normal canon of provision at level 7 within the university, as it is a qualifying route, leading to a beginning professional qualification in social work.

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