Community and Youth Work Studies with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Community and Youth Work Studies course, with an integrated foundation year. Transform the lives of vulnerable communities. Empower disadvantaged young people to achieve their potential. Qualify for an incredibly satisfying career where you'll be changing lives every day.

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This degree combines an honours degree with a professional qualification in youth work, training you to become a fully qualified youth worker with a nationally recognised professional qualification.

As a professional Community and Youth worker you will make a real difference to the lives of young people aged between 13 and 19. You'll promote their personal and social development, and empower them to make positive decisions for themselves and for their communities.

Why us?

  • Accredited by the National Youth Agency
  • ‘World-leading’ research in Social Work, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Opportunity to study abroad as part of the course

Course structure

Community and Youth Work is a vocation, and it’s important to learn from real work-based experience as well as from academic study. For this reason, work placements are an integral part of the degree. By the time you graduate you will have spent at least 888 hours in professional practice.

If you’re already working you can take a placement at your workplace, as long as the work is relevant and there are adequate supervision arrangements in place. You’ll also need to complete at least one placement in setting which is not your workplace, to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your placement experience.

In the second year you’ll have the opportunity to complete one of your work placements in Germany.

Our teaching style is true to the collaborative, empowering and reflective nature of Community and Youth Work. You will be assessed through essays, group work, presentations, reports and reflective pieces; assessment methods are clearly linked to the skills needed in practice. Throughout your degree you will have one to one support from a designated lecturer who will support your progress from Fresher’s week to Graduation.

Foundation year 

The Social Sciences and Law Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Maths (20 credits)
  • Foundation module (40 credits)
  • Project (20 credits)
  • Subject Specialism (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Learning from Lives (20 credits)

This module gets you thinking about how our lives are shaped by context. You will learn to explore your experiences and learn how your values and beliefs have developed. With awareness of self, you are able to further understand others.

  • Understanding Society (20 credits)

By exploring social theories we explore the concepts of society and their relationship to community and youth work practice. You will work cooperatively to embed the theory into a working investigation of a local community.

  • Principles of Informal Education (20 credits)

By exploring key principles underpinning the concept of Informal Education you will be able to understand the intricacy of your Community and Youth Work experiences.

  • Skills for Practice (20 credits)

This module offers you an understanding of the academic skills needed for university and the basic skills required for practice of Community and Youth Work. This is a great way to start your journey with us.

  • Placement Part One (20 credits)

Throughout the year you will undertake a placement of work in a local community and or youth project. Here you will learn all the things you can't in a classroom but importantly you will use your practice placement experience to explore, examine and develop your skills and knowledge.

  • Placement Part Two (20 credits)

A second placement module allows you the flexibility to undertake another placement with a different organisation if you do not wish to, or are unable, to continue with your current one.


Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Ethical Practice (20 credits)

This module explores the professional requirement for ethical practice. The value base of the profession is grounded by an ethics of care which requires all of us to think carefully about equality, empowerment and the service user voice.

  • Policy Context (20 credits)

To understand Community and Youth Work it is essential to understand the policy decisions that are made which impact on this sector. The module aims to equip you with the social and political knowledge needed to be a critical professional.

  • Organisational Management (20 credits)

Upon graduation it is likely you will be managing services and projects. As such this module will ensure you have the understanding and skills needed to think strategically, lead work and manage organisations.

  • Group Work and Integrated Practice (20 credits)

Community and Youth Work involves work in and alongside groups. This module offers you a reflective opportunity to apply the theories of group work to everyday practice.

  • Placement Part One (20 credits)

In a local Community or Youth Work setting you will be given opportunities that allow you to demonstrate your ability to take responsibility for an area of practice in order to develop skills in leadership, planning and evaluation.

  • Placement Part Two (20 credits)

A second placement module allows you the flexibility to undertake another placement with a different organisation if you do not wish to, or are unable, to continue with your current one.

Final year (national level 6):

  • Supervision (10 credits)

This module will equip you with the knowledge, values and skills needed to be a competent professional and an empowering supervisor of staff and volunteers.

  • Entrepreneurship /Project Management (20 credits)

This module will ensure that once graduated you have the ability to write business plans, understand funding bids and manage social enterprises.

  • Education for Transformation (20 credits)

By exploring theories behind education from within a critical framework, you will be able to reflect on the empowering nature of Community and Youth Work.

  • Equality, Diversity and Social Justice (20 credits)

By focusing on some of the most disenfranchised and unheard voices in society, this module will enable you to be a professional who embodies the values of equality, diversity and social justice.

  • Research for Practice/Dissertation (30 credits)

This is an opportunity for you to choose an area of practice that holds your interest. You will develop your ability to review literature and build research skills and knowledge.  This is a great way to complete your journey with us.

  • Advanced Practice or an elective module (20 credits) 

You have the opportunity to choose a module from a wide variety of courses across the University, or alternatively, you can decide to undertake a further placement where you will manage and evaluate a specific project.

  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands of  books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful include:

    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals
    • SocINDEX with full-text articles, which is probably the world's most comprehensive and highest-quality sociology research database
    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Database, which includes full-text journal articles on topics spanning emotional and behavioural sciences, psychiatry and psychology
    Library Services - social sciences
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we interview all applicants. You should be ready to talk about your voluntary or paid experience in a community and/or youth work setting in the interview. This enables us to consider making you an offer if, for example, you have been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

Please note that you must also have a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check in order to go on placements.

If English is not your first language, please see our English Language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles

Fees and finance

The Foundation Year will be £4,000. For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250, but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the three years.

In addition, you will receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region, and you may be eligible for means-tested scholarships if you are from a low-income household.

Register with StudyPLUS and enjoy up to £200 worth of books and university study essentials.

If you are a full-time UK student you will be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


Qualified Community and Youth Workers remain in high demand. With a varied repertoire of value based and  practice related skills Community and Youth Workers find employment throughout local authorities and the voluntary, charity and social enterprise sectors. We are proud that our alumni work in a wide variety of roles including traditional Community and Youth Work, Mental Health, Prisons, Schools, Housing Agency, Children’s Rights and many more areas.

As a qualified professional, you’ll be eligible for the higher levels of salary scales set by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers.

Centre for Applied Social Sciences

The University of Sunderland’s Centre for Applied Social Studies (CASS) regularly hosts visiting speakers, and it can be an excellent way to learn from the real-life experience of people who already have a strong track record in social policy.

CASS is the centre for applied social science research at the University, and you may find opportunities to collaborate with the academic team – particularly on areas relating to children, young people and families.

800 hours of placements

Community and youth work is a vocation, and it's important to learn from real-work based experience as well as from academic study. For this reason, work placements are an integral part of the degree. By the time you graduate you will have spent at least 800 hours in professional practice. As well as exposing you to a range of experiences and helping you understand the realities of community and youth work, placements are also an excellent way of establishing professional contacts for your career.

Meet the students

  • The state of the art services provided by the University and online resources are second to none.
    David Smurthwaite, Community and Youth Work graduate

    David Smurthwaite

  • The programme provided interesting and informative modules.
    Megan O'Neill, Community and Youth Work graduate

    Megan O'Neill

Meet the team

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