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Postgraduate Course

Disability and Mental Health Social Work MA

This MA will give you the tools, knowledge and professional capabilities you need to prepare you for a rewarding career in social work.

Two students discuss their work.

Our Disability and Mental Health Social Work MA will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to pursue a rewarding career in social work. This course has been created through a collaboration between professionals, individuals with lived experience and the wider community. Our sector leading course offers a different way of thinking about social work education.

Social Work England (subject to approval)

York campus

  • Duration – 2 years full time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview You will be invited to interview

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022-23 £7,400 per year full time

    International 2022-23 £13,000 per year full time

Discover why York St John University is The One

Course overview

This MA has been co-designed with social work practitioners, people with lived experience of social work, and community groups representing various priorities and interests. The course is holistic, wide-ranging and uniquely relevant to the authentic practice of social work as a result. A variety of strong practitioner and lived experience voices will also be involved in delivering the course.

The course combines theory, skills practice, work-based placements, supervision and personal development opportunities. We will ensure that you understand your responsibilities as social worker, and build your capacity to meet the professional standards set out in the British Association of Social Work (BASW) Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).

The course curriculum is aligned to Social Work England's professional standards and when you graduate you will be eligible to apply to register with them.

On your placements you will work with individual children and adults, as well as within family, multi-disciplinary and community settings.

As well as a broad understanding of social work with children and adults, this course highlights the experiences of disability and mental health across the life cycle and in the context of practice itself. These issues are central to all areas of social work practice, and you will graduate with a solid understanding of the complexities and challenges people are facing in our society, including social workers. This course aims to break down barriers between the concept of "us" and "them" in terms of social workers and service users, community and university.

Social work exists within a societal and political context which can directly impact on practice and organisational cultures. Throughout the course you will consider social work within this wider context. Our commitment to social justice mirrors the wider values of the university. We will challenge hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism as they manifest in social work practices. You will be encouraged to challenge oppression throughout your academic work, your placements and your future careers.

Course structure

How you will study

This course must be studied full time and will take 2 years to complete.

In your first year you will:

  • Study 4 compulsory modules
  • Spend 70 days on placement

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will learn about the reality of working with children as a social worker. To prepare you for practice, you will learn about child development and how different childhood experiences, such as being in care or being disabled, can affect childhood experiences. The module will also cover the laws and legal framework that social workers are required to adhere to, as well as contextual safeguarding and multiagency working.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will prepare you to work with 'working age' disabled adults (some of whom will have become disabled in adulthood), supporting people as they age and with end-of-life care. We will cover adult safeguarding and the legal frameworks you need to understand to practice as a social worker, including mental capacity law. You will also study models of disability and consider how they relate to lived experience, neurodivergence and advocacy.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you explore topics in both child and adult contexts through the lens of family life. This will include considering social contexts, structural inequalities and family dynamics. You will gain an understanding of how these influence families and how that in turn influences social work practices. Some of the topics you will study on this module include:

  • Parenting
  • Family group conferencing and community resources
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Navigating the benefits system
  • Immigration and leave to remain

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

In your first year you will also complete 20 professional skills days. These will help you develop a wide range of knowledge and skills associated with social work practice, multi-agency and partnership working, and the practicalities of carrying out social work in our society. Lectures and skills days will provide theory, space for reflection as well as practical activities to prepare you for your first placement. You will learn about:

  • Theories and methods of social work
  • Values and ethics in social work
  • Power and status in social work practice

You will also consider how your own personal motivation, values and beliefs will influence your practice.

Credits: N/A

Compulsory module

Your first placement will be 70 days in a non-statutory setting. This could be in the charity or voluntary sector. It will encourage you to develop your skills of engaging with, assessing and understanding people. The focus of your learning will be on:

  • complex communication skills
  • empathy
  • cultural awareness
  • understanding social work within systems and contexts
  • accurate and timely record-keeping

You will experience a high level of interaction with people with lived experience of oppression or marginalisation.

In your second year you will:

  • Study 4 compulsory modules
  • Complete a Dissertation
  • Spend 100 days on placement

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Building on your existing understanding of disability, on this module you will explore concepts including ableism, mental illness and care. Specifically focusing on children, you will gain an understanding around disabled looked after children, learning about inclusion and exclusion within education, especially as it relates to disability. You will also reflect on disclosing disability and mental illness within social work.

Credits: 10

Compulsory module

Everyone lives within a social context. As a social worker, it is important for you to understand and reflect on the contexts you are working within. This module places social work within a social, cultural and political context. As well as understanding the inequalities and oppressions that people face, you will learn about the organisational context of social work.

Credits: 10

Compulsory module

Building on your knowledge of the social, cultural and political context of social work, this module will help you to understand the cultural context of trauma and move into a trauma-informed way of working. This includes considering family grief, community grief and historical grief within different groups of people. You will also reflect on compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma, and how it can emerge in social work cultures.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

This module will provide an opportunity to research a particular aspect of social work practice or theory in depth, connecting it to questions regarding disability and mental health. You will be supervised throughout the process by an academic member of staff with expertise in the topic you choose to focus on.

Credits: N/A

Compulsory module

Over the course of 10 skills days, you will get the chance to practice the skills and enhance your knowledge ready for your final statutory placement These will help you develop a wide range of knowledge and skills associated with social work practice, multi-agency and partnership working, and the practicalities of carrying out social work in our society. Some of the topics you will cover are:

  • Service user experiences of social work
  • Assessing risk in social work
  • Decision making, planning and reviewing cases
  • Critical reflection and analysis
  • Court skills

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

The second placement is 100 days in a statutory setting. This could be services such as local authority children and adult teams, NHS teams or third party providers. Through this you will:

  • Put your knowledge of law into practice
  • Experience the complexity, ethical dilemmas and organisational challenges facing social workers
  • Learn how to make decisions in more high-risk environments
  • Build your capacity in managing the fast pace, multi-agency working at the heart of social work practice


Practice Educators will provide individual supervisions throughout the placement which will help you to link theory with practice and ensure you are meeting professional standards.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

The course will be delivered full time over 2 years. This will include taught, practical and experiential learning.

Academic staff, social work professionals, and people with experience of social work will all be involved in the delivery of your lectures and seminars. Taught sessions include lectures, seminars and small group work. Your independent study will include reading and preparation for the seminars, as well as completing assessments.

Placements

In your first year you will complete 20 professional skills days in advance of your first placement, to support you in developing your professional capabilities. Your first placement consists of 70 days in a community social work setting. Regular group supervision sessions throughout the placement will ensure that you can share learning across the group and consider challenges collectively.

In your second year you will complete 10 professional skills days and will start your second placement at the end of semester 1. Your second placement will be 100 days in a statutory setting such as a Local Authority or the NHS.

From the beginning of your course, you will be expected to understand and behave in accordance with the BASW Code of Ethics for Social Work as well as the Social Work England Professional Standards. Breaches of these standards may call into question your Fitness to Practice as a social worker and you may not be eligible to apply to register as a qualified social worker as a result.

Assessment

The assessments we use are designed to best suit the theoretical and practical content and will vary between modules. You will be provided with ongoing formative feedback during lecture and seminars.

The content of the assessments will ensure you are prepared to meet the appropriate stages of the BASW Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) with a focus on its 9 domains:

  • Professionalism
  • Values and ethics
  • Diversity
  • Rights and justice
  • Knowledge
  • Critical reflection
  • Intervention and skills
  • Contexts and organisations
  • Professional leadership

For each module you will be assessed through one or more of the following:

  • Essay
  • Exam
  • Report
  • Portfolio
  • Creative artefact
  • Public facing document
  • Presentation

We encourage you to reflect on your work as you progress though informal peer supervision, individual tutorials and use of a reflective journal.

Assessment of placements are undertaken by Practice Educators who are practising social workers. They will provide individual supervision throughout your placement to support you to link up theory and practice and ensure you are meeting the professional standards.

 

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview You will be invited to interview

If you do not have a 2:1 BA or BSc (Hons) degree, but have extensive experience in a relevant setting, you could still be accepted onto the course. In this situation you may be asked to study an extra module, Access to Postgraduate Study, to help you get your academic writing skills to the standard required of postgraduate study.

You will also need:

  • A minimum of 6 months experience in a relevant setting
  • A satisfactory Medical Health Questionnaire
  • A satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
  • A successful interview process
  • Satisfactory references 

Access to Postgraduate Study

10 credits | optional

This module provides an entry route if you would like to join the course but do not have an undergraduate degree. It is designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of a range of key academic study skills, including comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, reflection and evaluation. This will help prepare you for postgraduate level study. Material relevant to counselling and social work professions will be used and evaluated. You will be encouraged to extend your learning by sharing knowledge and resources within the group.

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 7.0 (with no skill below 6.5) or equivalent.

Interview

You will be asked to attend an interview for this course.

The interview panel will be made up of 3 people who will be a mix of social workers, placement providers, people with lived experience, and academics. We use values-based recruitment to ensure prospective students share the values and behaviours align with those required by the social work profession.

Once you have applied, you will receive further information about your interview from our Admissions team.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you might be able to provide evidence of professional experience in the subject as an alternative way to meet the entry requirements. This is called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). Appropriate references and records of employment would need to be presented to support your case for admission. 

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and Funding

UK 2022 - 2023 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this course is £14,800. This will be split across the 2 years, so you will pay £7,400 per year.

These costs apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

Funding opportunities

International 2022 - 2023 entry

The international tuition fee for 2022 entry to this course is £26,000. This will be split across the 2 years, so you will pay £13,000 per year.

These costs apply to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

International Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022-23 £7,400 per year full time

    International 2022-23 £13,000 per year full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for alumni

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

Where could Disability and Mental Health Social Work take you?

This course is designed for those who aspire to a career in social work, and especially those who want to specialise in disability or mental health social work. When you graduate you will be able to register with Social Work England and practice as a qualified social worker.

Stand out from the crowd with postgraduate study.

Far fewer people have postgraduate degrees than undergraduate qualifications. This gives you something extra to set yourself apart in a competitive graduate job market. Those with a postgraduate qualification will earn an average of £8,000 a year more than those with only an undergraduate degree. (Department For Education Graduate Labour Market Report 2019)

Our careers service, LaunchPad, provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support does not end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed.

Apply for this course

Applications are not yet open for 2022 entry on this course. Please check back here closer to the time for application links.

When applications do open, you will need to apply to us directly through a link on this page. To complete the online application form you will need to create login details.


Please contact 2 referees before submitting your application. An automated request for a reference will be emailed to them as soon as you submit. Your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

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