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. 

Learn in the UK's leading Social Work department

The Master of Social Work (MSW)/Diploma in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh is a postgraduate qualification for anyone wishing to practise 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, in training, in research, in government and in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Social Work is located in the prestigious School of Social and Political Science. The School brings together scholars from six disciplines and eleven research centres studying subjects ranging from Politics and International Relations to Science, Technology and Innovation Studies.

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.


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

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 2022/23 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.


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


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.

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 in the public, private and voluntary sector.

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.

Additional information

Our staff

Staff teaching on the MSW/Diploma in Social Work include full-time and part-time lecturers, tutors, teaching fellows, practice co-ordinators and secretaries.  Sessional teachers and tutors also make a contribution to teaching as do staff from other subject areas. Besides their general social work background, teaching staff have specialist knowledge in particular areas of policy and practice; for example, work with 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.

What our students say

"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

"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

"When you first begin the programme, you may feel over-whelmed. 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

Watch our Social Work at Edinburgh video to hear from some of our graduates:


Social Work placement in Rajagiri, India

Find out about the experiences of Social Work students on placement in Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, India. 







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.