Social Work BA (Hons)

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Change people's lives for the better. Protect vulnerable people in very challenging situations. Make the world a fairer place.

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BA (Hons) Social Work is the essential first step to becoming a qualified Social Worker. When you have graduated you will be eligible to register as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Social Workers improve the lives of a huge range of people. You could work with people with learning difficulties, children and families, older people, people who have problems with drug and alcohol misuse, people who experience mental health problems, or disabled people.

Why us?

  • This course has 100% Overall Satisfaction according to the National Student Survey 2017
  • 95% of BA (Hons) Social Work graduates are in emploment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students)
  • Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council

Course structure

This part-time course involves 6 to 12 hours a week of contact time at the University, plus independent study. It takes up to six years to complete the course.

Your progress will be assessed with group projects/presentations, written assignments, portfolios of work, and exams at the end of some modules. Throughout the degree you'll have one-to-one support from academic staff.

You will learn about the role of a social worker and the legislation which is applicable to social work theory, research, ethics and values. There is a big emphasis on practical learning and approximately half of the course consists of work placements.

You will develop skills in problem-solving, communication, working with others and patience. You will also learn about law, partnership working, assessment, intervention, mental health and disability issues.

A full-time version of this course is also available.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Skills for Practice (20 credits)
  • Social Work Theory and Practice 1 (20 credits)
  • Psychology and Human Growth and Development (20 credits)
  • Law for Social Workers (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Social Policy (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Social Theory (20 credits)


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

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Working with Children, Young People and Families (20 credits)
  • Working with Adults (20 credits)
  • Mental Health Social Work (20 credits)
  • Social Work Theory and Practice (30 credits)
  • First Placement (30 credits)

Final year (national level 6):

  • Critical Social Work Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues in Social Welfare (20 credits)
  • Social Work Research Methods (10 credits)
  • Social Work Dissertation (30 credits)
  • Final Placement (40 credits)

The Reg Vardy Centre,
Sir Tom Cowie Campus,


  • 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


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

Our typical offer is 120 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We also accept applications from those with at least three distinctions in an Access to Higher Education course. The Access course results must equate to 120 UCAS points.

You also need three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language, you will also need International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at a score of 7.0 in all components.

Social Work experience

To apply for this degree you must have experience (voluntary or paid) in a social care setting. You can include placements which you have undertaken as part of college, but we do expect more experience than this. Experience could include volunteering during weekends, evenings, or holidays. We may also consider any personal experience you might have.

You should clearly describe this experience in the personal statement section of your application and show how this relates to a career in social work. We interview all applicants, and you should be ready to talk about your voluntary or paid experience in the interview.

Social Work involves working with some of the most vulnerable people in society, and social work education is regulated by the Health and Care Professionals Council. We must therefore be satisfied that you are 'fit to practise' before we can accept you onto this degree course.

In addition to the academic qualification and work experience, you will need:

  • Two satisfactory references
  • A satisfactory health clearance
  • An Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check
  • A completed declaration form about previous criminal convictions (either spent or unspent) and any disciplinary hearings or investigations related to vulnerable adults or safeguarding young people

Social Work is listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 [amended 2013]. This means that we must ask you for an enhanced DBS check. Some spent convictions and cautions are ‘protected’, which means that we can't take them into account when deciding on your suitability for this course. You must read the Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide to decide whether or not you need to tell us about your spent convictions or cautions.

If we offer you a place on this course, we will need you to make a written statement about any prior incidents. We’ll need your permission to share this anonymised information with our partner placement agencies, so that we can make a judgement on your fitness to practice.

We may also need your permission to contact the agencies involved in any incidents that you declare. Any offer of a place on the course will be subject to a satisfactory outcome of this process. However, declaring something does not necessarily mean that you will be prevented from attending the course, and we judge each case on its merits.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is £5,000 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU. This part-time 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.

Applications with the Supplementary Application Questions submitted on or before 31 May 2018 will be considered for a social work bursary. Please note that applicants also need to apply to NHS Bursaries. Later applicants may be considered for a bursary dependent upon availability. Contact the Student Helpline for more information.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

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


BA (Hons) Social Work is a highly practical qualification. After graduation you will be eligible to register as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council.

95% of BA (Hons) Social work graduates are in a professional or managerial position, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students).

Social Work is a very broad discipline. You could work with older people, young offenders, people with mental health issues, refugees, foster carers, children at risk of abuse, or any other individuals at risk of harm to themselves or others.

Social Workers work in a variety of organisations including local authorities, NHS Trusts, residential care, schools, the voluntary and private sector.

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 work.

CASS is the centre for applied social science research at the University, and you may find opportunities to collaborate with the academic team.


Practice placements

Placements are an essential part of your degree, accounting for 70 credits in total. Placements allow you to apply your learning in a real-life context, and get a sense of what type of social work you might want tospecialise in. When you’re ready to start searching for a job in social work, you will already have a wide network of professional contacts who can help you find the right opportunities.


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