Social Work - 2970

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


Campus: Sydney

Career: Research

Typical Duration: 2 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 12

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 96


Master of Social Work (Research)

View program information for previous years

Program Description

For the award of MSW by Research a candidate is required to demonstrate his or her ability to undertake research by the submission of a thesis of between 40 – 50,000 words embodying the results of an original investigation.

Applicants are normally required to have a BSW from UNSW or equivalent and have had at least two years professional experience. Applications are also considered from those with an appropriate degree at an acceptable level and with two years' work experience in the human services.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

The Master of Social Work by Research degree program is designed for students wishing to engage in serious research and students who complete the program will be competent to carry out research in their chosen area.

Program Structure

Students may be enrolled full-time or part-time; internal or external. Full-time students have between 1 to 2 years, and part-time students have between 3 to 4 years to complete the degree. Each student has a supervisor, and progress is reviewed annually.

Academic Rules

1. The degree of Master of Social Work by research may be awarded by the Council on the recommendation Higher Degree Committee of UNSW Arts and Social Sciences (herein after referred to as the HDC) to a candidate who has satisfactorily completed a program of advanced study.

2. (1) A candidate for the degree shall:
(a) have been awarded the degree of Bachelor of Social Work from the University of New South Wales or a qualification considered equivalent from another university or tertiary institution at a level acceptable to the HDC; and
(b) have had at least two years' professional experience of a kind acceptable to the HDC;
(a) have been awarded an appropriate degree at a level acceptable to the HDC;
(b) have had at least two years' work experience in the human services of a kind acceptable to the HDC.

(2) In exceptional cases an applicant who submits evidence of such other academic and professional qualifications as may be approved by the HDC may be permitted to enrol for the degree.

(3) If the HDC is not satisfied with the qualifications submitted by an applicant the HDC may require the applicant to undergo such assessment or carry out such work as the HDC may prescribe, before permitting enrolment.

Enrolment and Progression
3.(1) An application to enrol as a candidate for the degree shall be lodged with the Dean of Graduate Research at least one month prior to the date at which enrolment is to begin.

(2) In every case before making the offer of a place the HDC shall be satisfied that initial agreement has been reached between the School* and the applicant on the topic area, supervision arrangements, provision of adequate facilities and any coursework to be prescribed and that these are in accordance with the provisions of the guidelines for promoting postgraduate study within the University.

* ‘School' is used here and elsewhere in these conditions to mean any teaching unit authorised to enrol research students and includes a department where that department is not within a school, a centre given approval by the Academic Board to enrol students, and an interdisciplinary unit within a faculty and under the control of the Dean of the Faculty. Enrolment is permitted in more than one such teaching unit.

(3) The candidate shall be enrolled either as a full-time or as a part-time student.

(4) To qualify for the award of the degree a candidate shall:
(a) complete a thesis proposal;
(b) submit a thesis demonstrating the capacity to conduct, under supervision, an original investigation on an approved topic;
(c) the research thesis shall be completed in no fewer than two and no more than four semesters for a full-time candidate, or no fewer than two and no more than six semesters in the case of a part-time candidate.

(5) No candidate shall be awarded the degree until the lapse of a minimum of three academic semesters from the date of enrolment in the case of a full-time candidate or six semesters in the case of a part-time candidate.

(6) The candidate may undertake the research as an internal student i.e. at a campus, teaching hospital, or other research facility with which the University is associated, or as an external student not in attendance at the University except for periods as may be prescribed by the Committee.

(7) An internal candidate will normally carry out the research on a campus or at a teaching or research facility of the University except that the Committee may permit a candidate to spend a period in the field, within another institution or elsewhere away from the University provided that the work can be supervised in a manner satisfactory to the Committee. In such instances the Committee shall be satisfied that the location and period of time away from the University are necessary to the research program.

(8) All candidates will have at least a supervisor and either a co-supervisor or joint supervisor appointed as defined in the UNSW Policy on Higher Degree Research Supervision.

4.The progress of the candidate shall be considered by the Committee following report from the School in accordance with the procedures established within the School and previously noted by the Committee.

(1) The research proposal will be reviewed as soon as feasible after enrolment. For a full-time student this will normally be during the first year of study, or immediately following a period of prescribed coursework. This review will focus on the viability of the research proposal.

(2) Progress in the course will be reviewed within twelve months of the first review. As a result of either review the Committee may cancel enrolment or take such other action as it considers appropriate. Thereafter, the progress of the candidate will be reviewed annually.

5. (1) On completing the program of study a candidate shall submit a thesis embodying the results of the original investigation.

(2) The candidate shall give in writing to the Dean of Graduate Research two months’ notice of intention to submit the thesis.

(3) The thesis shall comply with the following requirements:
(a) it must be a contribution to knowledge of the subject;
(b) the greater proportion of the work described must have been completed subsequent to enrolment for the degree;
(c) it must be written in English except that a candidate may be required by the Committee to write a thesis in an appropriate foreign language;
(d)it must reach a satisfactory standard of expression and presentation;
(e) it must consist of an account of the candidate's own research but in special cases work done conjointly with other persons may be accepted provided the Committee is satisfied about the extent of the candidate's part in the joint research.

(4) The candidate may not submit as the main content of the thesis any work or material which has previously been submitted for a university degree or other similar award but may submit previously published work related to the thesis.

(5) Three copies of the thesis shall be presented in a form that complies with the requirements of the University for the preparation and submission of higher degree theses.

(6) It shall be understood that the University retains the three copies of the thesis submitted for examination and is free to allow the thesis to be consulted or borrowed. Subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1968, the University may issue the thesis in whole or in part, in Photostat or microfilm or other copying medium.

6. (1) There shall be not fewer than two examiners of the thesis, appointed by the HDC, at least one of whom shall be external to the University unless the HDC is satisfied that this is not practicable.

(2) At the conclusion of the examination each examiner shall submit to the HDC a concise report on the merit of the thesis and shall recommend to the HDC that:
(a) the thesis merits the award of the degree; or
(b) the thesis merits the award of the degree subject to minor corrections as listed being made to the satisfaction of the Head of School; or
(c) the thesis requires further work on matters detailed in the report, and should performance in this further work be to the satisfaction of the Faculty HDC, the thesis would merit the award of the degree; or
(d) the thesis does not merit the award of the degree in its present form and further work as described in the report is required; the revised thesis should be subject to re-examination; or
(e) the thesis does not merit the award of the degree and does not demonstrate sufficient ability by the candidate for a resubmitted thesis to achieve this merit.

(3) If the performance at the further examination recommended under (2)(c) above is not to the satisfaction of the HDC, the HDC may permit the candidate to submit the thesis for re-examination as determined by the Committee within a period specified by it but not exceeding eighteen months.

(4) After consideration of the examiners’ reports and the results of any further examination of the thesis, the Committee may require the candidate to submit to written or oral examination before recommending whether or not the candidate be awarded the degree. If it is decided that the candidate be not awarded the degree, the Committee shall determine whether or not the candidate be permitted to resubmit the thesis after a further period of study and/or research.

7. A candidate shall pay such fees as may be determined from time to time by the Council.

Further Information
Successful completion may be used as an entry path to PhD study.


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