Social Work BA (Hons)

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Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

Full Time - If you are applying for this course from outside the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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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 apply for registration as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Social Workers improve the lives of a huge range of people. For example, 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?

  • Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council
  • Our Social Work courses are in the top 25% in the UK for Organisation and management, according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • 100% of our BA (Hons) Social Work graduates are in graduate-level employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Our Social Work courses were ranked 1st overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Social Work courses were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, and 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey

Course structure

This course is taught via workshops, small group work, lectures, computer-based learning, presentations and independent learning.

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. 

Two practice learning opportunities (70 and 100 days) in your second and third year will help you to put your learning into practice.

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 part-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)
  • 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

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If you were educated outside the UK, you should normally offer the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at a score of 7.0 in all components

Additional requirements

It is essential that you have experience (voluntary or paid) in a social care type setting, usually beyond college placements. This could include volunteering at weekends, evenings, or school/college holidays. We also accept personal experience as a carer or involvement with social care or social work. You should clearly describe your experience in the personal statement section of your application. This will be discussed with you at interview. It is important that you can reflect on your experience and relate it to a career in social work.

Social work education is regulated by the Health Care Professions Council. We are required to ensure that candidates are 'fit to practice' as qualified social workers.

Applicants are required to complete a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check prior to the start of the course. The provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act do not apply to this course , however the amendments to the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013) provide that certain spent convictions and cautions are 'protected' and are not subject to disclosure to employers and cannot be taken into account. Guidance and criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website:

If you are made an offer of a place on the course, we will ask you to make a written statement about incidents and ask for permission to share this anonymised information with our partner placement agencies for a judgement on your 'fitness to practice'. We may 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.

Please note

Before we can confirm any offer of a place to you, we require:

Two satisfactory references

A satisfactory health clearance

An Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check

A completed declaration form about any previous criminal convictions, either spent or unspent, and any disciplinary hearing or investigation related to vulnerable adults or safeguarding young people. You will need to pass our Fitness to Practice checks on these declarations.

Fees and finance

The fees for this course are:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £12,000 if you are from outside the EU
  • £6,935 per 120 credits for part-time study

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article. Please note, part-time study is not available to international students.

If you currently serve (or have recently served) within the Armed Forces, then the Ministry of Defence's ELCAS scheme may be able to help cover your funding for this course. For more information, see our Funding for Armed Forces personnel page.

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

You may also be eligible for an NHS social work bursary. Find out more on the NHS website.

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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 apply for registration as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Social Work is a very broad discipline. You could work with older people, young offenders, people with mental health issues, 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 research seminars presented by faculty academics and also visiting speakers, and it can be an excellent way to learn about current and up to date research on contemporary social care issues. You may also find opportunities to collaborate with the academic team.

Practice learning opportunities

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 to specialise 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.

Meet the students

  • I now believe choosing Sunderland was the best decision I have ever made.
    CJoe Robb, Social Work graduate

    Joe Robb

  • What attracted me to Sunderland was its great reputation.
    kimberley sempe course

    Kimberley Sempe

Meet the team

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