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At University of Galway, we believe that the best learning takes place when you apply what you learn in a real world context. That's why many of our courses include work placements or community projects.
Social Work (MA)
We offer joint teaching and learning opportunities with other disciplines within the School (e.g. Social Policy & Community Development) and are connected to the Child and Family Research Centre and a range of research clusters, which are partnered with the Life Course Institute. This means that staff throughout the School play a key role in relation to teaching and supervising research dissertations by students. The Programme also benefits from inter-disciplinary training with colleagues in other schools (e.g., School of Health Sciences), professionals in practice and service users and carers.
The maximum annual intake of Social Work students is 25. A dedicated teaching room, with extensive computer facilities, is available to students. The programme adheres to the definition of social work provided by the International Federation of Social Workers and expects Social Work students to adhere to both professional and university codes of conduct (see http://www.iasw.ie/ and http://www.coru.ie/ for codes of ethics and practice).
Applications and Selections
Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System. Two letters of reference, one academic and one work-related, and a well written and convincing personal statement (600 words) must also be submitted. You must also provide evidence of the equivalent of 6 months' work experience on the relevant form provided within the online application system.
Interviews will take place 22nd and 23rd February 2024.
Who Teaches this Course
The Practice Learning Co-ordinator is Ms Eleanor Kelly.
Other staff members of the School of Political Science & Sociology and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centrestaff are members of the programme board, module convenors and contributors. Many practice teachers and practitioners from a range of social work organisations also contribute to the programme through teaching, practice education, tutoring and/or practice assessment. Some members of the public (e.g., service users) also contribute to teaching on the social work programme.
Room 1001, ILAS
Child and Family Research Centre
School of Political Science and Sociology
Dept. of Pol. Science & Soc.
Science & Technology Building
University of Galway
Requirements and Assessment
Students will be expected to pass all modules, including the practice component of the first year before progressing to the second year. Each module will be assessed through a variety of assessment methods including written assignments, individual and group presentations, podcasts, written examinations and minor dissertation. Students will require at least a 50% pass in each module. All Year 1 academic and fieldwork modules must be passed before progression to Level 2. No ’compensation’ between modules allowed.
The Fieldwork component of the MSW is 50% of the entire period of the course. Students are placed in a variety of statutory, non-statutory and voluntary agencies. Geographically these agencies are along the Western seaboard, though there are also a number of placements in the Midlands and the East of the country. In Year 1 the placement runs for 14 weeks from early January to mid-April. In Year 2 the placement is also 14 weeks, from September to December. Each student is supervised by a professionally qualified social worker (the Practice Teacher) and is visited on placement by a Personal Tutor to discuss the student’s learning progress in developing the skills required for professional practice. International placements have been available in Chicago, South Africa and the Philippines. These are, in general, self-funded.
Level 8 undergraduate degree with a minimum Second Class Honours, Grade 2 (2.2) or BSc Social Science or other relevant qualifications deemed equivalent by the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies. Prior relevant work experience is compulsory (minimum 6 months/960 hours)
Prior work experience is compulsory and candidates must have obtained six months (approx. 960 hours) of voluntary or paid work experience relevant to the social work profession in order to be eligible to apply. Relevant supervised placement learning will normally count for up to a maximum of 240 hours (6 weeks). It is the candidate’s responsibility to demonstrate clearly in their application how they have met the required six months/960 hours experience and the relevant experience form in the application must be completed and submitted as part of the application. Candidates are expected to share all of their relevant experience in this form. This includes any relevant involvement with any other courses that involved relevant placements citing the details of the agencies where placements were completed. Two letters of reference, one academic and one-work related, and a well written and convincing personal statement (600 words) must also be submitted. Advertising for applications for the MA in Social Work (MSW) usually takes place in early January. Short-listed applicants will be called for interview.
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
RPL is not formally available for the MSW programme due to the accredited nature of the course and the requirements that must be met. These learning requirements are met through an integrated programme throughout two years which all students must complete. This is in line with university RPL policy. Please note that, while we do not have a formal RPL system, prior learning is recognised in other ways. For example, the admissions processes recognises prior learning from practice experience and in the teaching processes encourages students to bring their own learning to the programme and build on this throughout.
2 years, full-time
Next start date
A Level Grades ()
QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes
27 January 2024
Mode of study
Programme aims and objectives
The aim of the MSW Programme is to aid in the development and formation of students wishing to gain accreditation as professional social workers. This is achieved by
- Preparing students to undertake an ethnically based practice integrating both theory and research, policy, skills and reflection.
- Putting in place the foundations of generic learning applicable to all fields and methods of practice.
- Sustaining the focus on human rights and social justice within social work practice. Students will learn professional autonomy and accountability; develop interpersonal and professional relationships; practice effective communication; build towards personal and professional development; assess and be able to deliver a quality service; develop knowledge, understanding and skills in a creative environment. Underpinning all of these domains is the basic principle of respecting and advocating for the rights of the service user.
Through the course, student participants are encouraged to:
develop an appropriate skills base within practice placement settings
lay an emphasis on the need for social workers to make use of social theory and research evidence
facilitate the development of critical and reflective thinking and practice
Students are expected to show evidence of a commitment to promoting social justice and human rights throughout their studies and practice.
Programme Content (Subject to Change)
• Placement II
Curriculum InformationCurriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.
Glossary of Terms
- You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
- An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
- Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
- A module you may choose to study.
- A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
- Required Core Subject
- A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
- Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.
Year 1 (60 Credits)Required SP6144: Support and Protection across the Lifecourse - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP6118: Mental Health and Applied Law - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP718: Theory & Social Work I - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP611: Social Policy - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP601: Social Work Practice - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP603: Methods of Social Work - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP604: Research Methods - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Optional SP613: Mental Health & Health Promotion - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP608: Field Work I - 20 Credits - Semester 2
Year 2 (60 Credits)Required SP6152: Social Work Dissertation - 10 Credits - Semester 3
Required SP6153: Research Support Workshop - 5 Credits - Semester 3
Required SP610: Field Work II - 20 Credits - Semester 3
Required SP607: Social Work, Law & Human Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 3
Required SP609: Contemporary Social Issues - 5 Credits - Semester 4
Required SP719: Theory & Social Work II - 5 Credits - Semester 4
Required SP614: Social Work, Supervision & Management in a Multi-cultural Context - 5 Credits - Semester 4
Required SP722: Criminal Justice System, Probation & Social Work - 5 Credits - Semester 4
Optional SP612: Research Dissertation - 15 Credits - Semester 4
Why Choose This Course?
Graduates will be eligible to apply for registration with CORU as qualified social workers in a range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations. TUSLA, Health Service Executive, County Council, Community and Local Government and Department of Justice and Equality are examples of employers of social work in the public sector. The non-governmental sector includes services to children and adults such as, Ability West, Enable Ireland, Brothers of Charity Services, Galway Drugs Service, Jigsaw and COPE Galway. Graduates have also found employment internationally in the U.S.A., Canada, Scotland, England and Australia for example. With regard to further study, we encourage qualified social workers to consider post graduate study and or further professional training (e.g. PhD study or a recently established Higher Postgraduate Diploma in Practice Teaching, Supervision and Management).
Who’s Suited to This Course
Transferable Skills Employers Value
Related Student Organisations
Fees: Student levy
Fees: Non EU
Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €4,000 towards your tuition (2024/25). You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee. A P1 grant is where SUSI will pay tuition up to a maximum of €6,270. SUSI will not cover the student levy of €140.
Postgraduate fee breakdown = Tuition (EU or NON EU) + Student levy as outlined above.
Note to non-EU students: learn about the 24-month Stayback Visa here.
Find out More
Academic curriculum queries:
Social Work Admissions
T: +353 91 492 290
Ms Stephanie Quinn
T: +353 91492290
- Accommodation Office
- International Students
- Postgraduate Funding - Scholarships
- Student Support and Resources
What Our Students Say
Clodagh Feaheny | MA in Social Work (MSW) Graduate
I was part of the graduating class of 2021 and received my social work education throughout the pandemic and the beginning of Covid-19. The staff and college facilitated this difficult time amazingly and there was never a scarcity of support and communication throughout those daunting and difficult times. The masters in social work offered me a great theoretical base upon which my practice now rests as well as a developed practical insight and understanding to contemporary social work practice across numerous fields and services nationally. The small class sizes in Galway allowed for more intimate learning and professional development of everyone on the course and time for each person to get to know their teachers and staff and build amicable relationships together. My learning from University of Galway has stood to me in my practice and I feel the university and course as a whole are extremely highly regarded in the world of social work and social care practice and carry a great reputation.