Masters in social work personal statement

Lucy Romijn, Career consultant
May, 2022

If you'd like to become a social worker but didn't study the subject at undergraduate level then a Masters degree is essential for entry into the profession. You'll need to write a personal statement that coveys your commitment and passion to social work

Writing a personal statement for a vocational postgraduate course, like the MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in social work requires a slightly different approach from what you might be used to when applying for academic courses, as you're not only applying for a course, but to train for a particular profession.

You will be expected to:

  • discuss your motivations to train as a social worker
  • reflect on your experiences to demonstrate that you have a realistic insight into the role of a social worker and how they work to support people
  • provide evidence that you have, or are developing relevant skills and qualities for the role
  • show that you have the academic suitability to undertake a postgraduate level course.

For many social work courses it is a requirement to have undertaken relevant work experience in a social work or social care setting. You can see in the example statement, rather than describing the experience and tasks undertaken, you will need to reflect on how your experience has shaped your motivation to train as a social worker and what you have learned about the role. You will also need to provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated the skills, qualities and professional values of a social worker.

This example should be used for guidance only. Copying any of this text could significantly harm your chances of securing a place on a course.

Masters in social work personal statement example

I gained my first insight into social work while studying a 'Social work perspectives' module during the first year of my degree in health and social care. Learning about the ethics that underpin social work practice challenged my assumptions about the role social workers play, demonstrating the importance of the role for empowering vulnerable people and coordinating support to overcome challenges to health, safety and wellbeing.

I was able to observe this in practice during my placement at a supported living service for young people with learning disabilities. Social workers were integral to enabling the young people to safely transition to independent living, advocating for them to secure appropriate accommodation, coordinating access to disability services and providing support to develop independent living skills and money management. Without this advocacy, many of the young people may never have had the opportunity to live independently.

I have recently started a placement working with a local mental health charity, spent a year volunteering with Citizens Advice and am currently volunteering with the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT). Through these experiences I have observed the challenges faced by different groups of people, many of which can be alleviated or managed through empowerment of individuals and access to the right support. Becoming a social worker would enable me to work with diverse groups and support them to overcome these challenges and live more successfully within our society.

Through my experience, I have responded to individuals with empathy and respect and have demonstrated that I can uphold the values and ethical principles of the social work profession, while resiliently managing the challenges of working under pressure and supporting those who may not always be receptive to me. As a volunteer adviser at Citizens Advice I was often the first point of contact for individuals facing stressful and time-pressured problems, such as eviction or debt. I responded calmly and focused on the issues at hand, taking a non-judgemental approach to the individual's circumstances by clearly explaining why I was asking particular questions and how this would enable me to direct them to the appropriate support. At PACT, I facilitate family play sessions with prisoners and their children. I have taken the time to build rapport with the individual and their families; focusing on the person's identity as a parent and ways I can support them to feel they have a positive societal role. As a social worker it is important to treat people holistically while promoting dignity and wellbeing, these examples show my potential to respond in a positive, impartial way regardless of people's circumstances.

Many of my interactions at the mental health charity are with individuals in challenging circumstances, who are reluctant to seek help from external services due to poor past experiences. Many of my interactions have been with people who are angry, frustrated or suspicious. I take the time to listen to their concerns, provide reassurance and identify an initial starting point. When faced with particularly challenging or complex cases I do not hesitate to seek advice from colleagues or request a referral, always involving the individual in this process. These experiences have enabled me to recognise the importance of multi-disciplinary teams to meet complex and multi-faceted needs. These interactions have better prepared me to work with people who may present in a challenging way due to their circumstances and have helped me to develop the resilience to manage those interactions professionally and calmly.

My degree has prepared me for both the academic study and practice elements of the MSc in Social work. The interdisciplinary nature of my degree has introduced me to approaches from sociology, philosophy, health, policy and psychology, which provide a strong foundation to build upon in the social work course. In safeguarding modules I was introduced to the legal and policy frameworks underpinning practice when analysing a number of recent serious case reviews. This developed my ability to analyse complex situations where the application of law and policy is not always straightforward. Undertaking practice placements will enable me to further develop and apply this knowledge to real scenarios, building my confidence in making effective, evidence-informed decisions.

My dissertation project evaluated the impact of a local mental health charity's peer support programme, enabling me to develop a strong understanding of the ethics of participant research. I developed the methodology, completed the literature review and carried out primary research. This has prepared me with the core academic skills to evaluate research and develop evidence informed approaches during the Masters course.

Undertaking placements and volunteering alongside my degree has seen me organise my time effectively, consistently meeting coursework deadlines and completing work to a standard that has put me on track to achieve a 2:1, while receiving positive feedback from placements on my reliability. This demonstrates my ability to successfully balance academic work alongside the demands of practice placements during the Masters.

My work experience has motivated me to pursue a social work career in mental health, advocating for those who may not be in a position to advocate for themselves. The course will equip me with tools and approaches for working with service users in a range of circumstances, from those in crisis to those who need practical support to manage their condition in the community. I particularly look forward to professional placements where I can apply my learning while supported by experienced practitioners to navigate this complex area of social work. The MSc in Social work will build upon the knowledge and skills gained through my degree and experience, equipping me to undertake this challenging and demanding role.

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