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Master / Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work

About the Master in Social Work Programme

The Master in Social Work is a two year full-time programme providing a route to a professional qualification in social work. Applicants must have a Level 8 social science degree (2.1 or higher) or equivalent and substantial relevant practice experience. The course includes two 500 hour professional practice placements,  one, in each academic year.


Programme Outline

Duration: Two years, full time

Applications are now closed for the September 2016 intake

Closing Date: Midnight on January 17th 2016

Social work is a challenging and a rewarding career and requires a personal commitment to the ideals and values of the social work profession. Those considering social work as a career option should be aware of its ethical and value dimensions and, in particular, the commitment of practitioners to the promotion of social justice.

This course combines university-based learning with assessed work experience conducted under the supervision of professionally qualified social workers.

Graduates are eligible to apply for registration as professionally qualified social workers with the Health and Social Care Professionals Council (CORU) and are also eligible for employment in a wide range of professional social work posts.

Social Work in Ireland

Social work education has been provided in Trinity College since 1934. Since then, the number of social workers employed in Ireland and the scope of social work have expanded greatly. An increasing number of career development options are available through both in-service training and advanced professional courses.

Choosing a Career in Social Work

As social work is a vocational career, it is important to consider whether it is the right career for you, prior to embarking on a professional training course. Meeting with social workers to find out what they do, reading widely about social issues and problems, and doing voluntary or paid work in the social work/social care field are all helpful steps in reaching this decision. It is also important to think about your own personal style and attributes to see if they fit with social work:

  • Are you a good listener and communicator?
  • Are you able to empathise with people in difficulty and distress?
  • Can you remain calm and focused at times of crisis?
  • Can you be patient and flexible in helping people to find their own solutions?
  • Do you have a commitment to equality and social justice?

Choosing the Trinity Master in Social Work

The annual intake on the Trinity MSW course is limited to under 25 places and therefore students are guaranteed small group teaching and individual attention from lecturers and tutors. The course provides:


  • A post-graduate social work degree and eligibility to apply to CORU to become a registered social worker
  • Two professional social work placements including options for one international placement.
  • Critical thinking, reflective practice and research skills
  • Teaching and tutorials with research active academics and practicing social workers
  • Access to a world-class library and a famous historic campus

Our graduates have found employment as social workers in sectors including Child and Family, Probation, Health-Related, Mental Health, Disability and Community Development in Ireland and internationally. Others have chosen careers in research, advocacy, service management and education and training.

Course Structure

This course is full-time and consists of both academic and fieldwork components. Academic modules include:

social policy/social work practice theories/ethics and skills/critical perspectives/social research methods and processes/life span psychology/social work and the law/child and family work/criminology/mental health and addictions/health-related social work

Professional Social Work Placements

Students will be required to undertake at least two assessed professional practice placements over the two years. In Years One and Two, placements take place from February to May. Garda (Police) vetting is required by employers for social work students placed in their agencies. Students contemplating social work education should be aware that this is a placement requirement. Further placement details are available here.

Academic Calendar and Duration of Course

The MSW is a two-year full-time programme which takes place over two academic years from early September to the following June each year. There is also an expectation that some preparatory work on the Master's dissertation will be completed in the summer months between Year One and Year Two.

The structure of the course as it is currently formulated is outlined below. Please note that it may be subject to revisions.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed for September 2016 intake.

Applications must be submitted online here and fee information is available here.

Please visit the Graduate Studies website to establish the criteria used for designating students as eligible for EU or non-EU fees as these are not based on nationality criteria alone. It is the responsibility of individual students to seek all relevant information on fees from the Graduate Studies Office.

Selection of Candidates

The normal requirements for entry to this programme are:

  • Successful completion (minimum 2.1 grade) of a Level 8 degree in the Social Sciences. Candidates holding a primary degree in a discipline outside the social sciences must hold a postgraduate award in social sciences (minimum 2.1 grade) for example the Trinity College Post graduate diploma in Social Studies (online) or equivalent.

  • Prior to acceptance on the course, candidates will be required to demonstrate a minimum of 850 hours practice experience (full or part-time). Practice experience will be evaluated on the basis of the quality and relevance of either paid or voluntary work, and what the individual candidate has gained from it.


When assessing the quality of previous practice experience, the factors taken into consideration include:

  • nature of the tasks undertaken
  • quantity and quality of supervision and training available to and availed of by the candidate
  • connections the candidate can make between practice experience and wider social issues

Examples of relevant practice experience include employment as:

  • residential child care or social care workers, social work assistants, family access or family support workers.
  • Voluntary work covers a wide range of activities such as phone-line counselling, volunteer support and befriending work, and community activism.
  • Informal experience of helping, even if extensive, would not by itself be considered to fulfil this criterion of relevant practice experience

Examples of practice experience that cannot be included as relevant are:

  • pastoral or parish work alone (i.e. outside of a formal context such as St. Vincent de Paul visitation); voluntary work conducted while at school;
  • voluntary tuition;
  • childminding;
  • teaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit this link for frequently asked questions about the Masters in Social Work course.

Further Information

For further information contact:

Ms Emma McConkey, Executive Officer,
School of Social Work and Social Policy
Tel: +353-1-896 4579

Dr. Erna O'Connor, Course Director
School of Social Work and Social Policy
Tel: +353 1 896 2627