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MA Professional Practice: Critical Issues for Practice Development

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  • Entry requirements
    Entry requirements The programme has been developed collaboratively and is for managers and practitioners across a range of social professional settings, in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors. Applicants accepted to the programme will normally hold a degree or equivalent professional qualification (e.g. DipSW, JNC, teaching) and/or possess a minimum of two years related work experience. Non-standard entrance criteria (such as Diploma in Counselling, Personal Advisor Diploma, etc as highest qualification) and APEL (accreditation of prior learning) arrangements are also in place.
  • Academic Title
    MA Professional Practice: Critical Issues for Practice Development
  • Course description

    The pace of change in the field of the ‘social professions’ is both fast and unpredictable and securing effective practice during periods of radical change is known to be incredibly challenging.  Both the internal and external context of change within organisations needs to be attended to if real and lasting change is to be achieved (Bridges 2003, Hannagan 2005).  All too often however the focus is on external change; policy, procedures and structures for example, when what is really needed in times of uncertainty is a focus, knowledge, understanding and skills in managing internal change, within individuals, teams and cultures.  Trust is a key to developing the learning organisation but often the first casualty of change.  This route provides the space to explore the critical issues for developing practice in times of change by re-envisioning the supervisory process as empowering and developmental and by reclaiming evaluation as a process for developing professional confidence.

    Module 1: Transforming Practice through Supervision provides critical space to consider key influences on contemporary approaches and methodologies exploring:

    The changing nature of policy and practice within the social professions

    The relationships between the supervisory process and the changing nature of practice focusing on managerialism, organisational change and inter-professionalism.

    Ways of conceptualising, and engaging with these issues and others, developing leadership thinking and practice across the broad sector

    The module looks to support professionals to be at the forefront of developing quality service provision both through the development of staff and by shaping the practice of tomorrow.

    Module 2: Exploring Quality, Assessing Practice takes a step further towards developing critical understanding of the concept of ‘quality in practice’ and seeks to support professionals to consider alternatives to the dominant positivist approach.  It will include critical exploration and consideration of:

    Discourses of quality, accountability and evaluation

    Contemporary approaches and a consideration of alternatives

    Concepts such as empowerment, participation, community, human rights, democracy and partnership in assessing practice

    Ways of conceptualising, and engaging with these issues and others, developing leadership thinking and practice across the broad sector.

    Programme Structure

    Compulsory modules:

    Module 1:(30 credits) Transforming Practice through Supervision

    Module 2:(30 credits) Exploring Quality, Evaluating Practice

    Module 3:(30 credits) Contemporary professional dilemmas: identifying and formulating new directions

    Module 4:(30 credits) Research methodology

    Dissertation:(60 modules)

    Each taught module has four elements:

    Module SymposiumModules begin with a 2-day module symposium (Thursday-Saturday) consisting of formal input and other collaborative learning activities. Module content aims to be at the forefront of professional and academic knowledge stimulating individual and collaborative thinking and reflection for practice.

    Action Learning SetYou will also join an Action Learning Set for each module  involving a small group of peers engaged in guided, focused and specific learning activities for the module.

    Electronic NewsletterAn electronic newsletter and resources will also support learning and development.

    Tutorials One to one guidance to assist in academic and professional development is available, in line with the philosophy of the College and its commitment to regular contact between staff and students.  In addition, each student will be offered a formative assessment tutorial for each taught module.


    Assessment will expect enquiry into application of the radical principles of the course and takes a range of forms, including assignment, presentation, and portfolio.  Students participating in the MA Professional Practice will also be invited to join the Research and Practice Network and present research work at times.

    Career opportunities

    Those enrolling may already be involved in areas of work that will be considered and will want to develop their knowledge and capability to enhance their career and employment prospects as part of their professional development.  Such people will include social workers, youth workers, community workers, education welfare, teachers, nurses and other health professionals e.g. speech and language therapists and managers etc.  The process of developing knowledge and practice is likely to offer participants opportunities in policy development.

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