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Master of Social Work (MSW)



The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree was introduced in 2012 and replaces the University's Master of Social Welfare degree. The MSW is an advanced specialist programme, requiring at least two years of full-time study or its equivalent in part-time study.

The degree is intended for practitioners who wish to develop their professional knowledge and skills through specialized study, consistent with principles of applied professional training. It prepares graduates for senior level and specialist practice in social services, research and policy analysis.

The Master of Social Work (MSW) is also available through Distance Learning within New Zealand.

Please note: the MSW is a post-registration qualification.

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Contact Details

Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work


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Subject Area

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Programme Requirements

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Papers Points

Three of
SOWX 510  Advanced Social Service Counselling
SOWX 511  Advanced Family Practice
SOWX 512  Working with Children and Adolescents
SOWX 513  Mental Health and Specialist Practice
SOWX 514  Advanced Community Development
SOWX 515  Iwi Social Services I - Contextual Issues
SOWX 516  Iwi Social Services II - Development and Facilitation
SOWX 517  Social Policy Development
SOWX 518  Social Services Supervision
SOWX 519  Social Services Management
SOWX 520  Social Services Research and Evaluation
SOWX 521  Advanced Studies Special Topic
SOWX 522  Advanced Studies Special Topic

Research Components
SOWX 580  Research Project

Thesis: SOWK 6



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Regulations for the Master of Social Work (MSW)

  1. Admission to the Programme

    1. Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).
    2. Every applicant shall

      1. possess an approved professional social services qualification, and
      2. have at least two years' proven competence working in the social welfare field, and
      3. present evidence of ability for advanced level academic study.

    Note: Applicants who are not graduates or who have not achieved grades averaging B or better will normally be expected to enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Welfare or Diploma for Graduates or for approved papers for Certificate of Proficiency.

  2. Structure of the Programme

    1. The programme shall consist of at least three papers from SOWX 510-522 plus one approved paper at 400-level or higher offered by the University of Otago or another New Zealand tertiary education institution, to a total value of 120 points in the University of Otago, and a thesis embodying the results of one year's full-time supervised research or the equivalent in part-time supervised research.
    2. A candidate may not present a thesis that has been accepted for another degree.
    3. The programme of study, the topic for the thesis and the supervision of the research shall be approved by the Head of the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.

  3. Duration of the Programme

    A candidate shall normally follow a programme of study for the equivalent of not less than two years of full-time study and not more than four years of full-time study. Exceptions shall be permitted only with the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

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  4. Examination of Thesis

    1. The thesis shall be assessed by at least two examiners, at least one of whom shall be external to the University.
    2. The candidate's supervisor shall not be an examiner but may make a report on the work of the candidate to the Head of the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.
    3. Each examiner shall supply a written report on the thesis and recommend a mark and grade on the basis of the thesis as submitted, and an overall result selected from the options as specified in clause (d) below.
    4. The examiners may recommend that a thesis:
      1. be accepted without amendments;
      2. be accepted subject to amendments being made at the discretion, and to the satisfaction, of the Head of the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work;
      3. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, but may be revised and resubmitted for examination;
      4. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, and should be rejected without right of resubmission.
    5. Amendments 4(d)(ii) and revisions 4(d)(iii) shall be completed by a specified date to be determined by the Head of the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.
    6. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis for examination once only.
    7. If a revised and resubmitted thesis is finally accepted, the result shall be either Pass or Fail (i.e. ungraded) and without eligibility for the award of the degree with distinction or credit.
    8. Where examiners cannot agree on a result, the Head of the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work should so report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) or nominee who shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee who should normally be external to the University.
  5. Level of Award of the Degree

    The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.

  6. Variations

    The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) may in exceptional circumstances approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

    Note: Students enrolled for endorsed options for the degree of Master of Social Welfare (the former name of the degree of Master of Social Work) may complete their programmes under the regulations in force when they commenced study for the degree, provided they do so by the end of 2014.

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