School of Social and Political Science

MSW Master of Social Work

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This programme is very popular and we strongly recommend that students apply as soon as possible as places are likely to be filled by early June 2024. 


Social Work at the University of Edinburgh

Social Work research at UoE has a permanent legacy across the world and has had significant influence in legislation and policy-making. 

Established in 1918, we've been turning knowledge into action for more than 100 years.

Find out more about Social Work at the University


The UoE Social Work Department is ranked 1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK

[league tables 2024] 

Social Work is based at the prestigious School of Social and Political Science. The School brings together scholars from seven academic subject areas and 11 research centres, with subjects ranging from Politics & International Relations to Science, Technology & Innovation Studies. 

Did you know? The Dean and Head of the School of Social and Political Science, Professor John Devaney, is Centenary Chair of Social Work. 


Our research

93% of our impact case studies are recognised as 'world leading' and 'internationally excellent'.

[REF 2021] 

Our research areas include:

  • Refugees and asylum seekers 
  • Friendship and social support 
  • Social security and social work 
  • Mental health and social work 
  • Children’s rights – gender-based violence
  • Innovation in restorative justice systems 

84% of our submitted publications are rated as ‘world leading’ and 'internationally excellent' for their originality and significance.

[REF 2021] 

100% of our research environment is assessed as 'world leading'.

[REF 2021]



What is the MSW?

The Master of Social Work (MSW)/Diploma in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh is a postgraduate qualification for anyone wanting to practice as a qualified social worker.

Students come from all over the world to this programme and go on to practise in diverse settings in social work practice, training, research, government and the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Find out more about the MSW

The University of Edinburgh is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to deliver this course, which complies with the Scottish Requirements for Social Work Training and facilitates students meeting the Standards in Social Work Education (SISWE) and the Key Capabilities in Child Care and Protection.

Aims of the MSW

The programme provides a fundamental understanding of the theory and practice that underpins all work in the field. Students' time is split between the University and practice learning environments.


Successful completion of our MSW programme qualifies you to practice as a social worker.

Globally recognised

The MSW is also recognised as a professional qualification in social work across the world, including the United States and Canada. 

For information about using your MSW degree in the USA and Canada please see:

The programme is studied over two years, with periods of practice learning in both years.

Career opportunities 

Many of our MSW graduates go on to work across a range of diverse settings in social work practice, training, research, government and the public, private and voluntary sectors. 

You will also develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field. 


The Masters dissertation is submitted at the end of the final year but is worked on throughout the programme, and gives students an opportunity to explore, in depth, a subject of their own choice.

About the department

Staff teaching on the MSW/Diploma in Social Work include full-time and part-time lecturers, tutors, teaching fellows and practice coordinators. Sessional teachers and tutors also make a contribution to teaching, as do staff from other subject areas.  

Besides their general social work backgrounds, teaching staff have specialist knowledge in particular areas of policy and practice; for example, they work in areas around children and families, older people, mental health and criminal justice. 

Practitioners and managers, service users and carers, researchers and trainers from the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors contribute to the teaching, drawing on their substantial specialist knowledge in ways which complement the expertise within the University. 

The University of Edinburgh is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to deliver this programme, which complies with the Scottish Requirements for Social Work Training and facilitates students to meet  the Standards in Social Work Education (SISWE) and the Key Capabilities in Child Care and Protection. 


You have periods of practice learning in both first year (full time for 70 days) and second year (full time for 100 days). 

Placements are an integral part of the programme, during which you will be attached to a social work practice setting and will be under the supervision of a practice educator. You will also have periods to return to the university and your personal tutor will provide regular support including visiting you while on placement.

The Social Work department supports students with national and international placements. Since 2018 our students have been placed in a wide variety of locations including: 

  • USA
  • Canada
  • India
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Dubai and
  • Italy 

Any placement is conditional to students securing a visa to the respective country, which is independent of the University of Edinburgh placement arrangement process. 

The department has a partnership agreement in place with Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kerala, India, allowing us to organise a regular annual placement with them. 

SSSC Bursary for Scottish Students

The Scottish Social Services Council administers postgraduate bursaries for students studying full-time postgraduate social work courses in Scotland. Funding is reviewed annually but for 2023/24 includes a contribution of £3,415.00 towards tuition fees and a maintenance grant.

Students must be nominated by their university for each year of the course. Nomination is attached to the university as well as to the student. Funding is limited and subject to a quota.

The University will send lists of nominated students to the SSSC. For September intake this is during summer. Those students will be invited to apply. Nomination does not guarantee eligibility for funding. Students will be assessed for residence eligibility, previous funding received and, if eligible, entitlement.

Please contact the Bursaries team at for further information.

Studying Social Work in Scotland - external resource

A new inter-university resource site has been produced as a collaboration between the Universities in Scotland which deliver programmes leading to a qualification as a social worker. 

The site contains lots of information for students who do not currently live in Scotland and will be coming here to study social work.  

Visit the website: Studying Social Work in Scotland

This site includes information on:

  • Living in Scotland
  • Social Work in Scotland
  • Studying in Scotland
  • Becoming a Social Worker
  • Placements
  • Your University



What our students say

Hear about our Social Work students' experiences on placement in Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, India. 


Hear more students' experiences on placement in Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, India




"I chose Edinburgh as I thought studying abroad would help me become a more diverse practitioner, and widen my approach and thinking when qualified."  Aoife 

Read more students' experiences studying and living in Edinburgh

"I love the city of Edinburgh and I liked the structure of the course. Especially the chance to have a short placement before the end of my first term at the University."  Elena 

"When you first begin the programme, you may feel overwhelmed. However, as you come to the start of your placements, everything makes sense. While the programme is hard work, it is very rewarding."  Nicky 

"I love the fact that I can relate my life and working experience to what I am learning on a daily basis, and also that I am expected to learn a lot for myself rather than be taught."   Sean 



Tuition Fees and How to apply

Tuition Fees

Fees for MSW Social Work - 21 Months

How to apply

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. 

Everything you need to know about the application process and additional details for this programme is available here:

Application information

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.


With the MSW from UoE, your work can make a difference.