MA Understanding domestic violence and sexual abuse
This programme complements other programmes in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STaCS) which qualify graduates as community and youth workers, social workers, art and dance psychotherapists and counsellors. It is intended for graduates (or those with equivalent experience) from health and social care, practitioners in the psychological therapies, and third sector workers from specialist abuse services. It is particularly relevant for people wanting to increase their grasp of the interplay between mental distress, domestic violence and sexual abuse
Why is this MA unique? It represents the first psychosocially informed programme of its kind in the UK. The programme synthesises psychodynamic, systemic, cognitive behavioural and social theories to examine the impact of being abusive or of being abused. The programme focuses on practice and research from these theoretical perspectives and will consider abusiveness and its impact in different international, cultural and social contexts from childhood to older age.
The programme makes excellent use of online learning blended with a lively discussion based classroom experience. By the end of the programme you will understand the process of identifying, assessing and managing both perpetrators and victims. The modules will mostly be delivered over 3 consecutive days with some Saturday sessions. This makes the programme particularly accessible to working adults. Remote access to online content enables students to plan their own learning pattern. Students seeking Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are also able to attend most of the modules. The course can be taken full time to complete in 1 year or part time (up to 5 years to complete).
We also support the development of non-abusive attitudes through a blending of theory and reflective practice. Domestic violence and sexual abuse cannot be studied in isolation from the impacts that they have on individuals. Abuses occur in the context of relationships where one person chooses to harm or violate another. Perpetrators and victims are helped or hindered by the attitudes of the community around them. Inequalities in society (gender, race, sexuality, age) and abuses of power ensure that some individuals become less visible and less vocal. Marginalised individuals are rendered more vulnerable to abuse through societal structures that isolate and disadvantage them. This interplay is well captured in the ecological model of violence prevention illustrated by the World Health Organisation (see below).
We all have a part to play in creating communities that strive to challenge marginalisation and abuses of power. That process begins in the learning community created by the staff and students on the programme. Throughout the learning and teaching an attitude of inclusivity and respect for different viewpoints is valued and nurtured. Students and staff will be exposed to the impact of violence and abuse as it resonates with their own lives and the lives of those around them. The course material and seminar discussions are likely to stir up powerful emotional responses and viewpoints. Promoting self-care and sensitivity to the vulnerabilities of others forms a central aspect of the programme.
Sensitivity to the impact of abuse
Experiencing or bearing witness to abuse takes its toll emotionally and psychologically so it is important to consider how you will take care of yourself whilst remaining engaged. If you have had past experiences of abuse you may want to weigh up what is at stake for you in thinking, talking or writing about abuse. Although the lecture room may provide some space to discuss aspects of abuse it is not a therapeutic setting and this can feel quite upsetting when you touch on raw feelings. Students may want to theorise or critique information during discussions which may feel difficult. If you have not had direct experiences yourself you will need to consider the sensitivities of others on the programme. If you are sharing your learning space, you will need to be aware that each of us has had some encounter with abuse in our lives or in the lives of those we care about.
The programme includes modules that encourage you to reflect on your attitudes and prejudices and give space to process the impact of your learning. It is not uncommon for people to feel shocked or appalled by what they learn. We all arrive in this field with healthy and unhealthy preconceptions about abuse. It is important to clarify your thinking about who is responsible for what and to develop a capacity for managing ethical dilemmas. This is a field in which perpetrators shift responsibility for their abusive actions onto those they victimise. We will encourage students to take responsibility for their own behaviour and to contribute to maintaining a safe and non-threatening learning space.
How is the programme structured?
Students wanting to qualify with a Masters are required to take 180 credits. It is also possible to exit the programme with a diploma (120 credits) or a certificate (60 credits).The modules are listed below, some are compulsory and some are optional parts of the programme.
|These modules are compulsory:
Theories, Research and Policy – Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse (30 credits)
Research Methods (practitioner research and literature review) (15 credits)
Group work: power, identity and conflict (30 credits)
Dissertation (60 credits)
|These modules are options: (you will need to complete 3 options to obtain the masters):
Working with children in the context of domestic violence and sexual abuse (15 credits)
Working with adults in the context of domestic violence and sexual abuse (15 credits)
Adolescents as victims and perpetrators (15 credits)
Community and Participatory Arts and Arts Therapies Based Interventions (15 credits)
Making an application
If you are interested but need to know about financing your studies you could be eligible for a student loan or bursary. See the fees and funding page:
Students can apply online using the link below:
- You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. You must also be able to demonstrate significant experience in either health and social care, psychological therapies, or experience from the third sector in a specialist abuse service.
- You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.
- We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you’d like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.
- If your first language is not English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes.