Master of Social Work

Postgraduate coursework

Develop the skills and experience to help those from disadvantaged circumstances and set yourself up for senior roles in a rapidly growing sector.

Domestic student information

Key facts


2 years of full-time study or 4 years part-time study


Key dates

Direct applications to Deakin for Trimester 1 2023 close 27 November 2022 for full fee paying places

Current Deakin Students

To access your official course details for the year you started your degree, please visit the handbook

Course overview

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.

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Course information

Award granted
Master of Social Work

2023 course information

Deakin code
Higher Degree Coursework (Masters and Doctorates)
Approval status

This course is approved by the University under the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) recognition

The award conferred upon completion is recognised in the Australian Qualifications Framework at Level 9.

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. Please note that all students will need to undertake the required field placements in order to qualify for the degree. These field placements are unpaid. It is recommended that students have planned for these periods of unpaid placement time prior to commencing the course. 

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.

Core units

Course structure applies for students who commenced in 2017 onwards. Students who commenced prior to 2017 should refer to previous online Handbooks or consult a student advisor.

Level 1 - Trimester 1

  • Academic Integrity (0 credit points)
  • Australian Social Work in an International Context
  • Understanding Care and Risk
  • Becoming a Social Worker
  • Challenging Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Level 1 - Trimester 2

  • Professional Practice in Social Work A (3 credit points)
  • Research Literacy
  • Level 2 - Trimester 1

  • Addressing Violence and Abuse
  • Practicing Social Work with Communities and Groups
  • Responding to Trauma, Grief and Loss
  • Collaborative Practice in Healthcare
  • Level 2 - Trimester 2

  • Reconstructing Professional Practice
  • Professional Practice in Social Work B (3 credit points)
  • Intakes by location

    The availability of a course varies across locations and intakes. This means that a course offered in Trimester 1 may not be offered in the same location for Trimester 2 or 3. Check each intake for up-to-date information on when and where you can commence your studies.

    Trimester 1 - March

    • Start date: March
    • Available at:
      • Online

    Additional course information

    Domestic students enrolled in this postgraduate coursework program may be eligible for student income support through Youth Allowance and Austudy.

    Further information can be found at Deakin University's Fees website.

    Course duration - additional information

    Course duration may be affected by delays in completing course requirements, such as accessing or completing work placements.

    Mandatory student checks

    In accordance with the policies of health and human services organisations, all students are required to undertake a Police Record Check prior to professional placements in each calendar year that they are enrolled in a placement unit. Students who fail to obtain a Police Record Check prior to the commencement of a professional placement will not be able to undertake their mandatory placement units and this will impede progress in the course.

    Students with a criminal record are not precluded from enrolling in social work degrees at Deakin but may face difficulties in obtaining placements which are required to complete the degree. Many agencies are reluctant to place students whom they perceive may place service users staff or the organisation itself at risk, e.g. when offending has involved crimes of violence against children or adults, or crimes of deception such as fraud and embezzlement.

    Working With Children Check (or State/Territory equivalent)

    In accordance with the Worker Screening Act 2020, all students are required to undertake a Working with Children Check at the commencement of their course. Students who fail to obtain a Working with Children Check prior to the commencement of professional placement will not be able to undertake their mandatory placement units and this will impede progress in the course.


    NDIS Worker Screening Check

    Students may be required to undertake a NDIS Worker Screening Check to comply with any requirements as specified by a particular placement organisation. This is an assessment of whether a person poses risk to NDIS participants. A placement organisation may refuse to accept a student for placement if they fail to obtain a NDIS Worker Screening Check. This may impede progression in the course

    Immunisation Status

    Students are a potential source of infection for service users and colleagues and may be required to comply with any requirements for immunisation as specified by a particular placement organisation. Students are required to declare their immunisation status to satisfy the requirements of health and human service organisations where they will be undertaking their professional learning experience. A placement organisation may refuse to accept a student for placement if the student’s immunisation status is not satisfactory to the placement organisation. This may impede progression in the course. 


    As a student in the Faculty of Health you can expect to participate in a range of learning activities each week. This may include a combination of self-paced study, classes, seminars, simulations and online interactions. You can refer to the individual unit details in the course structure for more information. You will need to study and complete assessment tasks in your own time.

    Attendance requirements

    Students are required to attend a minimum of 20 days of face to face time delivered during the two-year full-time (or 4 year part-time) degree. Click here for Trimester 1 2023 attendance dates.

    Please note that in the case of a COVID lockdown for any of these scheduled face to face days, classes will be delivered online.

    Participation requirements

    During the academic and placement components of a social work degree, students are expected to attend seminars and classes, and/or participate in online learning activities. In-person attendance for some activities, including placement, is compulsory for all students including those enrolled as online students.

    In accordance with the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) online students are required to attend on campus intensive seminars for a total of 20 days throughout their course. Intensive seminars are linked to individual units of study. Refer to the individual unit details in the University Handbook for more information about attendance requirements for specific units.

    Reasonable adjustments to participation and other course requirements will be made for students with a disability. Any adjustments need to reflect the understanding of social work and requirements for social work education as spelt out in the (ASWEAS). For example, it is not possible to exempt a student from all group work activities in their degree as students must be able to demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively with others. However, there may be scope to make adjustments to this requirement on particular occasions, provided there are sufficient other situations when the student has the opportunity to demonstrate this requirement.  Click here for more information.

    Work experience

    Practice Education 

    All students are required to complete two field education placements, each involving a minimum of 500 hours (across at least 65 days) of practicum (field placement) in a health or human service organisation or program.

    Students must also attend and participate in the associated pre-placement preparation seminars at the Geelong Waterfront campus in the trimester prior to the placement being undertaken - dates to be advised..

    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. Applications for RPL are due 31 March of the year students are due to undertake their first placement. Late applications cannot be accepted.

    Further information is available in the RPL Guidelines

    Deakin University does not require any student to have a driver’s licence but encourages students to obtain one if possible. Many placement providers expect students to hold a full driver’s licence and students who do not have this may be limited in the placement opportunities available to them. Organisations which require students to drive as part of their placement work should provide access to an agency vehicle and not expect students to have their own car.

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    Entry requirements

    Entry information

    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

    Recognition of prior learning

    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.

    Fees and scholarships

    Fee information

    Estimated tuition fee - full-fee paying place
    $24,800 for 1 yr full-time - Full-fee paying place
    Learn more about fees and your options for paying.
    Estimated tuition fee - (CSP)?
    $8,301 for 1 yr full-time - Commonwealth Supported Place (HECS)

    Learn more about fees.

    The available fee places for this course are detailed above.

    Tuition fees are determined by your enrolment:

    • If you are offered a full fee paying place, your tuition fees are calculated based on your course.
    • If you are offered a Commonwealth supported place, your tuition fees are calculated depending on the units you choose. Not all courses at Deakin have Commonwealth supported places available.

    The 'Estimated tuition fee' is provided as a guide only based on a typical enrolment of students completing the first year of this course. The cost will vary depending on the units you choose, your study load, the length of your course and any approved Recognition of Prior Learning.

    One year full-time study load is typically represented by eight credit points of study. Each unit you enrol in has a credit point value. The 'Estimated tuition fee' is calculated by adding together eight credit points of a typical combination of units for your course.

    You can find the credit point value of each unit under the Unit Description by searching for the unit in the Handbook.

    Learn more about fees and available payment options.

    FEE-HELP calculator

    What is FEE-HELP?

    FEE-HELP loans cover up to 100% of tuition fees for eligible students. By taking out a FEE-HELP loan, the government pays your tuition fees directly to Deakin, and the balance is repaid from your employment income - but only once you're earning over $48,361.

    Please note: fees shown by the calculator are indicative only and based on 2023 rates. Actual fees may vary. We advise confirming fees with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    Estimate your FEE-HELP

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    • $* is the estimated full cost for a Master of Social Work (16 credit points), based on the 2023 fees.
    • is the annual FEE-HELP payment, based on your current salary
    • of your current salary be spent on FEE-HELP


    Deakin University (Deakin):

    • gives no warranty and accepts no responsibility for the currency, accuracy or the completeness of the information provided;
    • advises users that no reliance should be placed upon on the information provided, and;
    • instructs users that they should confirm the actual course fee with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    This tool provides indicative information about the fees that will be payable in respect of courses and subjects offered to prospective students domiciled in Australia during the periods indicated.

    Please note that the fees shown by the calculator are indicative only and actual fees may vary. Users are advised to confirm the actual course fee with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    The estimated course fee is based on the tuition fee costs applicable to a domestic full time student commencing the course in Trimester 1 and studying full time for the duration of the course but:

    • does not include non-tuition costs that may apply, such as Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF);
    • does not take into account any scholarships or bursaries awarded to the student (including the 10% Deakin alumni discount);
    • assumes the maximum number of units that need to be successfully completed actual number completed may be reduced if recognition of prior learning is granted;
    • assumes that no exceptional, or non-typical, circumstances apply to the proposed course of study;
    • assumes that the options that the user selects are appropriate for the course of study that they intend to undertake;
    • where fees are estimated for future years those fee will be subject to annual increases in accordance with increases in the cost of course delivery.

    Scholarship options

    A Deakin scholarship might change your life. If you've got something special to offer Deakin – or you just need the financial help to get you here – we may have a scholarship opportunity for you.

    Search or browse through our scholarships

    Postgraduate bursary

    If you’re a Deakin alumnus commencing a postgraduate award course, you may be eligible to receive a 10% reduction per unit on your enrolment fees.

    Learn more about the 10% Deakin alumni discount

    Apply now

    Apply direct to Deakin

    Direct applications for Trimester 1, 2023 are now open. Head to the Deakin Application Portal, create an account and log in to apply. Not sure where to start? Find out how to apply. Please note that closing dates may vary for individual courses.

    Need more information on how to apply?

    For more information on the application process and closing dates, see the How to apply webpage. If you're still having problems, please contact us for assistance.

    Entry pathways

    This course provides a pathway to higher degree by research courses.

    Contact information

    Our friendly advisers are available to speak to you one-on-one about your study options, support services and how we can help you further your career.

    Call us 1800 693 888 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm)
    Live Chat Mon–Thurs, 8am–7pm, Fri 8am–5pm


    Career outcomes

    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.

    Professional recognition

    The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has fully accredited the Master of Social Work. The AASW has also singled out Deakin for our ‘critically reflective practice’, setting us apart from other social work programs in Australia.

    Note: All information regarding professional recognition is accurate at the date of publication. Enquiries regarding accreditation and professional membership should be directed to the School of Health and Social Development in order to ascertain the current status of accreditation at any future point in time beyond publication. Representations about accreditation apply only to the course, and the AASW retains discretion as to who they admit as members of their association. Deakin University cannot exercise any control over membership of an external body.

    Course learning outcomes

    Deakin's graduate learning outcomes describe the knowledge and capabilities graduates can demonstrate at the completion of their course. These outcomes mean that regardless of the Deakin course you undertake, you can rest assured your degree will teach you the skills and professional attributes that employers value. They'll set you up to learn and work effectively in the future.

    Graduate Learning Outcomes

    Course Learning Outcomes

    Discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities

    Critically apply understanding of the histories, aims, values, ethics, theories and practice approaches of social work in contemporary Australian contexts, across all domains including working with individuals, families, groups, communities, management, research education and social policy.

    Practice social work reflectively in line with the code of ethics and professional practice standards of the Australian Association of Social Workers.


    Evaluate and apply appropriate communication and interpersonal skills in a broad range of social work practice contexts and with a diversity of people, communities and organisations.

    Digital literacy

    Use digital technology in social work practice ethically and appropriately, including service provision and management, information acquisition and dissemination, and research and evaluation.

    Critical thinking

    Critically analyse, synthesise and apply knowledge of social work theories, methods and skills to promote positive social change.

    Engage in reflective and responsive practice that considers the social context, and the positioning of self and others.

    Evaluate and apply knowledge and understanding of a range of research paradigms and methods to the design and conduct of research relevant to the practice and evaluation of social work.

    Problem solving

    Apply social work knowledge and intervention skills to appropriately and creatively respond to the needs of individuals, groups and communities in diverse settings, client groups and geographic locations.


    Demonstrate a sense of identity, integrity and self-management as a professional social worker in all areas of practice.


    Work and learn respectfully and inclusively across diverse social, discipline, cultural and political contexts.

    Global citizenship

    Ability to evaluate and apply local and global knowledges social work practice to respond effectively within a human rights and social justice framework.