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Deakin University

  • 21% international / 79% domestic

Master of Social Work

  • Masters (Coursework)

With a Master of Social Work, you'll have the skills, experience and platform to protect the vulnerable, fight social injustice and help those from disadvantaged circumstances turn their lives around.

Key details

Degree Type
Masters (Coursework)
Course Code

About this course

With a Master of Social Work, you'll have the skills, experience and platform to protect the vulnerable, fight social injustice and help those from disadvantaged circumstances turn their lives around. Seek membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) when you graduate and set yourself up for senior roles in a rapidly growing sector.

Want to discover how your care for others, compassion and empathy can translate into a rewarding and successful career?

You will study this course alongside a group of students that, while diverse, all share a common passion for helping others. Many join the course after completing a bachelor degree in a cognate discipline, such as psychology, allied health and nursing. Master of Social Work students who are working in the field are looking to develop advanced skills - skills that allow them to address more complex issues and have an even more profound impact on the people they work with. No matter where you come from, you'll be joining a group that shares your values, and you'll be given a platform to do more of what you love each and every day.

Choosing social work at Deakin means you get to study specialised units that focus on the most significant social challenges in the world today. These include:

  • Addressing Violence and Abuse
  • Responding to Trauma, Grief and Loss
  • Challenging Poverty and Social Exclusion

Your studies will extend to other key areas of social work that give you a national and global perspective of the work currently being done in the field, such as:

  • social and community development
  • race and gender issues
  • critical social work perspectives
  • equity, power and diversity issues
  • anti-oppressive and empowerment approaches to social work practice and policy.

Another benefit of the course is our unique unit, Collaborative Practice in Healthcare. The unit includes students from social work, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, optometry, medical imaging and medicine, giving you the chance to work alongside health professionals from different areas. Not only is this a great networking opportunity, it also provides a blueprint of what it takes to work effectively in a healthcare team. Develop skills in leadership, interprofessional conflict resolution, communication and patient-centred care, and graduate ready to thrive in team environments.

The course is delivered on our flexible online learning platform, but that doesn't mean you will miss out on practical learning opportunities. In fact, you will undertake at least 1000 hours of professional placement preparing you for all the challenges you'll face in your future role. You can take on placements at a variety of organisations, broadening your experience and professional networks, and you'll be supervised by qualified social work practitioners who can give you feedback and expert guidance along the way.

The Master of Social Work is accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and has even been recognised by the AASW for its commitment to 'critically reflective practice'. That means you'll graduate with a sought-after qualification and all the right skills for a rewarding career built on helping others.

Entry requirements

Entry will be based on performance in:

  • Bachelor degree in a related discipline, with two units in the study of human behaviour and two units in the study of society.

Examples of units in human behaviour include anything behavioural science related, including:

  • Psychology, research and policy related fields
  • Counselling or therapeutic roles in areas such as play therapy, rehabilitation counselling, art therapy, music therapy, and disability and inclusion
  • Clinical areas such as child development, drug and alcohol work, medicine, emergency services, working with older people, working with people with a disability, and education
  • Allied health areas such as midwifery, occupational therapy/health, nursing, audiology, health promotion, physiotherapy

Examples of units in study of society include:

  • Social science
  • Anthropology
  • Political science
  • International relations
  • Community development
  • Economics: with a health or social focus
  • Health and sustainability
  • Public health
  • Health promotion,
  • Geography
  • Criminology
  • Indigenous studies

Applicants must have a recognised university qualification with at least two units in a study of the human behaviour and two units in the study of society. Preference may be given to applicants with relevant work experience. Selection criteria will also be based on undergraduate academic results.

Inherent requirements

Applications are accepted from students who possess the skills and prerequisites required to complete the course, gain professional certification and practise safely. The inherent requirements of the course are available here.

Deakin University offers admission to postgraduate courses through a number of Admission categories.

All applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements.

Please note that meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee selection, which is based on merit, likelihood of success and availability of places in the course.

For more information on the Admission Criteria and Selection (Higher Education Courses) Policy visit the Deakin Policy Library

Career pathways

The two year Master of Social Work course is designed to provide a graduate level entry to educate students for critical, competent and effective professional social work practice both within the local social and community services industry and the broader national and international context. Graduates may find employment as a social worker, policy officer, researcher, community development worker, case manager, counsellor, human rights advocate, working with individuals, families, groups and communities in the health and human services sectors.

Course structure

To complete the Master of Social Work students must attain 16 credit points. All units are core (these are compulsory).

Students must complete two practice education units as part of the core units, each involving a minimum of 500 hours (across at least 65 days) of practicum (field placement) in a social or community service agency or program.

Failure of a practice education placement in the Master of Social Work will normally lead to exclusion.

All commencing Faculty of Health Undergraduate and Postgraduate course work students are required to complete HAI010 Academic Integrity in their first trimester of study (0 credit point compulsory unit).

Inherent requirements

Students should also be aware of the inherent requirements of the course.

Credit for prior study or work

The University aims to provide students with as much credit as possible for approved prior study which exceeds the normal entrance requirements for the course and is within the constraints of the course regulations. Students are required to complete a minimum of one-third of the course at Deakin University.

You can also refer to the Recognition of Prior Learning System which outlines the credit that may be granted towards a Deakin University degree and how to apply for credit.

Students must have completed Masters level education to be granted Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) for approved prior study. Applications for RPL on the basis of prior study should be submitted at least one week prior to the commencement of the trimester of offer.

RPL cannot be granted for informal learning for any Master of Social Work units other than HSW714 - Professional Practice in Social Work.

Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) is possible for the first placement only (HSW714-Professional Practice in Social Work A) for students who are able to demonstrate that their prior work experience has provided them with the knowledge and experience that would normally be provided in the first placement.

There is a separate process in applying for this type of RPL and more information is available in RPL Guidelines.

Applications for RPL are due 30 March of the year students are due to undertake their first placement. Late applications cannot be accepted and students are encouraged to apply earlier than this if possible.

Graduate outcomes

Graduate satisfaction and employment outcomes for Social Work courses at Deakin University.
Overall satisfaction
Skill scale
Teaching scale
Employed full-time
Average salary