The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is an advanced specialist qualification, 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 specialised 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.
Social and Community Work programme
Master of Social Work (MSW)
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Regulations for the degree of Master of Social Work (MSW)
Note: The Postgraduate Diploma in Social Welfare may be taken as a stand-alone qualification or may be awarded as an exit qualification to students who have passed the papers component of the Master of Social Work programme but do not complete the thesis component.
Admission to the Programme
- Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).
- Every applicant shall
- possess an approved professional social services qualification, and
- have at least two years' proven competence working in the social welfare field, and
- 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.
Structure of the Programme
- The programme shall consist of four papers to a total value of 120 points in the University of Otago and a thesis; three papers from SOWK 504-523; a fourth paper chosen from SOWK 504-523 or an approved paper at 400-level or higher offered by the University of Otago or another New Zealand tertiary education institution; and a thesis embodying the results of one year's full-time supervised research or the equivalent in part-time supervised research. Students are encouraged to complete the papers component of the programme before embarking on the thesis as the programme's second component. Those seeking to do otherwise must secure the approval of the Programme Coordinator.
- A candidate may not present a thesis that has been accepted for another degree.
- 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.
- A candidate who has completed the requirement for the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Welfare shall be exempted from the papers for the degree programme and shall be required to complete only the thesis component.
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).
Examination of Thesis
- The thesis shall be assessed by at least two examiners, at least one of whom shall be external to the University.
- 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.
- 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.
- The examiners may recommend that a thesis:
- be accepted without amendments;
- 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;
- does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, but may be revised and resubmitted for examination;
- does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, and should be rejected without right of resubmission.
- 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.
- A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis for examination once only.
- 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.
- 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.
Level of Award of the Degree
The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.
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.