Academic aspects

How high is the workload for ADVANCES?
Who else will I study with?
Will I meet local students during the programme?
How will I study?
What types of assessment will be used?
Are work placements included in the study programme?
What degree will I receive at the end of the programme?
If I successfully graduate, can I practise social work anywhere in the world?
Can I specialise in a particular area of social work?
Are there opportunities to meet local social workers?
Can I choose where I spend Semester 4?
Can I conduct research in my home country during Semester 4?
How can I prepare for the programme?

How high is the workload for ADVANCES?

ADVANCES is a full-time Master programme and students will be expected to engage in academic work for approximately 30-35 hours each week, which includes formal teaching, small group work and independent study in the library and at home.  The workload may vary between weeks and during assessment periods.  Bear in mind that the amount and scheduling of formal teaching input offered to students does vary between universities and countries. 

Who else will I study with?

Approximately 12-15 students are expected to join ADVANCES programme each year.  All applicants are or have been social sector professionals in their home countries.  To give you an idea of the global diversity, previous year’s cohorts included students from Ghana, Serbia, Sri Lanka, China, India, Bangladesh, Italy, France, Portugal, Vietnam, Philippines, Poland, Greece, Armenia, Guatemala, Tanzania and Zambia.  

Will I meet local students during the programme?

Certainly!  First of all, we will try to match you with local social work students in each institution through a ‘buddy’ system.  Social events and occasional joint teaching events will also let you meet local students on social work and other courses.  Several of the universities involved in ADVANCES participate in other Erasmus Mundus Master programmes, making it possible to link you to members of this community.  You will be officially enrolled in all the universities you attend, so you can meet other students through various clubs, leisure facilities and extracurricular activities.  

How will I study?

The teaching activities are designed to promote active learning with much use of discussion, questions, problems and dilemmas.  Instead of only traditional lectures and seminars, you will also be involved in small group work, case studies, role plays and discussions to explore new issues.  Outside class, reading and research will help you to learn more about the topics.

What types of assessment will be used?

The assessments are designed to be part of your learning and not just a way to check your knowledge.  Both academic and practice skills will be developed through a wide range of assignments, including presentations, reflective journals, case simulations, business plans, posters and case analyses.  Please look at the assessments listed for each module for further details.   

Are work placements included in the study programme?

There are no work placements or internships because the ADVANCES programme is designed for social sector practitioners who already have significant experience of work.  Yet, this does not mean that you will be isolated from social work practice.  You will engage in observation and field work in welfare settings during Semesters 2 and 3 where you extend and apply your academic learning.  Semester 4 includes 2-3 months of field studies in one or multiple sites as part of your research project, which must be focused on social work practice. 

What degree will I receive at the end of the programme?

If you successfully pass all assignments for the ADVANCES programme, then you will receive a full Master degree from the University of Lincoln (UK), Aalborg University (Denmark) and also the University of Warsaw (Poland) or Universite Paris Ouest (France) if you spend Semester 4 there. 

This means that you will receive several national degree certificates: from the UK, Denmark and potentially France or Poland.  All the national degree certificates are internationally recognised and have the same status as those received by students on local degree programmes.  This situation arises because higher education in the European Union is regulated at national rather than international level.  In addition, you will receive a diploma supplement that explains the joint nature of the programme and why you have received multiple degrees. We recommend that you explain to employers and universities that you graduated from an international Master programme that awards multiple degrees. 

If I successfully graduate, can I practise social work anywhere in the world? 

The ADVANCES programme leads to an academic Master degree that is recognised by universities and employers in many countries around the world.  Like other professional subjects (e.g. medicine, nursing, psychology), the social work profession is often regulated and licensed by local or national organisations in specific countries.  You may therefore need to apply to professional accreditation bodies for official recognition of your learning and experience in the ADVANCES programme.  Such applications are generally made on an individual basis and also consider your previous employment history.  We will assist with supporting paperwork for professional recognition, but cannot guarantee that all countries will award professional status to ADVANCES graduates due to the diversity of national requirements regulating the social work profession.  A list of regulatory organisations in various countries is available here.

Can I specialise in a particular area of social work?

All of the ADVANCES modules seek to improve your skills as a social worker.  The focus is on cross-cutting competences, for example communication, decision-making, project development and applied research, rather than particular topics.  You therefore need to study and pass all modules in order to achieve a balanced and coherent education that advances your professional level.  There is still much scope for choice because you can pursue your own interests within each module, for example by choosing the topic of your assignments, presentations and wider reading.  The research project in Semester 4 is also an excellent way to gain deep knowledge and skills about a particular issue.  

Are there opportunities to meet local social workers?

One of the aims of the ADVANCES programmes is to build an international community of social workers.  This means bringing you together with local practitioners, for example through networking evenings, guest lectures and fieldtrips to social services.  We will try to match particular interests and specialisms so that you can exchange experience and ideas. 

Can I choose where I spend Semester 4? 

Students will be divided equally between all five ADVANCES universities for their research projects.  You will be asked about your preferred location and knowledge of languages, but the final matching will be based on the availability of supervision and fieldwork opportunities around your chosen research topic.  All students will have two supervisors, one from their ‘local’ university and another member of the ADVANCES teaching team.  Supervision arrangements and marking procedures will be alike for all students across universities.  Semester 4 finishes with a research conference and goodbye event that brings all students together.  

Can I conduct research in my home country during Semester 4?

No – your research project must incorporate fieldwork from your Semester 4 location so that you gain international experience of social services and can also stay in close contact with your supervisor and other students. 

How can I prepare for the programme?

Some preliminary reading will be emailed to you in late July as informal preparation for the programme.  We will also set you an optional assignment to complete by mid-September in order to let us assess your academic English and offer appropriate support to you.