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Undergraduate study
  • Course changes for 2020: for a safe environment and a great student and learning experience.
  • Note: this course is closed for September 2020 entry. UCAS Apply 2021 is open for the next intake date.

Course overview

Our BA (Hons) Social Work has been endorsed and regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council and provides you with the skills and knowledge to meet the challenges and developments in today’s contemporary social work practice. An honours degree in social work can lead to a long career as a professional social worker with adults or children.

We have an excellent record in our graduates getting professional employment and our graduates are highly regarded by local employers. All students participate in the same core curriculum so that you are equipped to undertake any job role suitable for a newly qualified social worker.Throughout the course, as part of the placement experience, you may be required to participate in a shift pattern rota or work weekends. It is a requirement of this course for you to complete supervised placements in years two and three. The majority of local authorities who work with the University to provide placement opportunities require you to have access to and use of a car and adequate insurance covering business use in order to attend visits. Further details will be provided at interview stage and you will be asked to sign a declaration to confirm that you hold a valid driving licence etc. If, due to individual circumstances, you are unable to drive or have particular difficulties in accessing your own transport, these circumstances will be considered but should be discussed with the University at interview.

Professional accreditation

Achievement of BA (Hons) Social Work gives you eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker with the Health and Care Professions Council. The course includes two assessed placements in social work settings. The placements will be in different settings with different service user groups and at least one placement will normally be in a statutory setting or in a placement where statutory work can be experienced.

Please note attendance is monitored during this programme.


Course details

In the first year you are introduced to the core skills and values of social work and what it means to be a professional social worker. You are also introduced to the legal and policy context of social work, which governs its roles and responsibilities. You learn about human development and how people react to difficult life events and life changes, and how social workers can assist and protect vulnerable adults and children.

In the second year you learn in more detail about the nature of social problems faced by different groups in society and how as a social worker you can intervene to support and empower service users and their carers and families. Specialist modules in working with adults and working with children ensure that you are ready for your first professional placement*, whatever the setting. After the first placement you study two modules; one which examines the community context of practice and a research module which prepares you for your final year dissertation.

In the final year you complete one more module prior to undertaking your second placement in a different setting. This module examines the importance of values and ethics in the decision making process and understanding the organisational context of contemporary practice. In addition there is also a dissertation to complete along with a final year presentation in which you evaluate your professional development as a student social worker.

The course is taught at our Middlesbrough campus in the vibrant heart of the city. You undertake placements in a range of adult and children placements in both the statutory and voluntary sectors across the North East.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Human Transitions and Lifespan Development

You gain an understanding of human development across the life course which helps you to understand, empathise with and work successfully with service users. This module takes account of the fact that human development is a lifelong process and that it is not always linear or predictable. You also consider the influence of biological, psychological, social and cultural influences on human development and the impact of socioeconomic and political factors on people’s life chances. You examine international and cross-cultural perspectives on human development and the importance of diversity is emphasised. Assessment includes a group presentation and a written assignment.

Law and Social Policy for Social Workers

We introduce you to the legal and social policy context in which social workers practice. You gain an understanding of how the legal and social work system interact. You also gain an overview of the development of the welfare state and the theoretical models which influences its development. You explore what it means for social work to be a legally mandated profession, through an introduction to the different sources of law.

Principles and Practice of Social Work

You gain an effective working knowledge of concepts relating to professional conduct, practice, professional identity and professionalism while developing relationships with others, working in teams, developing literacy and IT skill opportunities. You also learn about the importance of developing appropriate communication skills based upon good practice of working in partnership with service users, and partners from practice. In addition, you begin to compile a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate your learning and development. This portfolio will demonstrate essential evidence for readiness for direct practice in social work in line with the PCF. You are assessed through the demonstration of key communication skills that are assessed as either Pass/Fail and certificates of attendance. Evidence of learning and assessed tasks is presented in a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates the range of the PCF. At the end of the first year, you should have a completed portfolio that demonstrates your readiness for direct practice, together with your PDR.


You gain a contemporary overview of the field of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults together with an understanding of the principal theories on the causation and effects of abuse, alongside a theoretical appreciation of contemporary understanding of perpetrators of abuse. Content includes a critical exploration of the legal, policy and procedural frameworks that underpin safeguarding and the importance of assessment. You have the opportunity to critically review the concept of resilience and of the practice of risk assessment, risk management and the use of protective interventions in safeguarding practice.


Year 2 core modules

Applied Research for Social Workers

You develop skills necessary to become a research minded and evidence-based practitioner. You gain an effective working knowledge of how to conduct appropriate research relevant to your practice experience. You develop a sound theoretical knowledge of research methods underpinning qualitative and quantitative research studies. We encourage you to evaluate research evidence and the application to practice. The emphasis is also on the application of these skills to professional development. You carry out an evaluation of pieces of published research and complete a research proposal which may form the basis for your final year dissertation.

Living and Working in Groups, Communities and Societies

You are introduced to the key theories and perspectives about how people relate to each other in the social environment and gain a clear understanding of how these insights can be directly applied to social work practice. These issues are also explored from a cross cultural view point. You combine an understanding of these competing perspectives with opportunities to reflect on the current nature of society and social work practice. There are two assessments in which you are asked to identify and analyse the responses to different social problems and issues.

Practice Placement 1 – 70-day block

Working with Adults

You gain insight into and understanding of the concepts of social exclusion and inclusion, discrimination, personalisation and choice, recovery and disability rights and individual/personal budgets. These concepts are discussed within the context of current policy responses; you critically analyse the degree to which these responses correspond to the needs of service user groups and explore the ideological foundation of these service responses. For your assessment you are presented with a case study which requires you to explain how you would work in partnership with a service user and their relatives/carers to provide them with a package of support. You also have to design and produce a resource such as an information leaflet to inform service users and carers about what resources are available for the service user group.

Working with Children, Young People and Families

You gain knowledge and insight into the problems and issues which are faced by children, young people and their families and build on the knowledge gained in the first year safeguarding module. Content also includes service user and carer input which leads to a critical examination of service users and carers experience relating to social worker involvement in their lives. You critically examine current service provision and consider how services can be more child-centred. The growing awareness of the need for early intervention and preventative approaches are considered against a backdrop of limited resources. Assessment is a report for a government minister in relation to the wellbeing and outcomes for children and young people. You are also expected to apply your knowledge and understanding to a specific service user group.


Year 3 core modules


In your final year, you complete a dissertation based upon a critical exploration of a topic selected by yourself, and in consultation with your dissertation tutor. The topic will be relevant to social work practice or the knowledge base for social work and will be based upon an extended literature review. Dissertation workshop sessions will be held prior to your final year placement. The assessment will be a 10,000-word written assignment.

Practice Placement 2 – 100-day block

Social Work Theory, Values and Ethics

You consolidate your understanding of social work theory, values and ethics that enable you to develop your critical understanding of how these issues impact on contemporary social work practice. In particular, you focus on how different views about the nature of society influence different views about the nature and purpose of welfare and adopt a social construction approach to understanding these questions. Ethical theories are also considered and reviewed as a means of aiding ethical decision making. Assessment is in two parts, consisting of an individual assignment of 3,500 words and a group presentation.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

Teaching methods include group work and skills days, as well as lectures alongside practice-based learning opportunities.

How you are assessed

The BA (Hons) Social Work uses a number of assessment approaches including essays, group and individual presentations, a dissertation, reports and assessment of skills in interacting with service users and carers, as well as being assessed on your practical social work skills on placements.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants should:

  • have a minimum of 112-128 tariff points or equivalent from two or three A Levels or equivalent (social science subject preferred). Applicants with Access qualifications should have a minimum of 27 credits at merit grade.
  • have GCSE grade 4 (grade C) or above, in English language and maths or certified equivalents.
  • International applicants must meet communicating and comprehension skills to International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at level 7 and will be required to show certified evidence of this. If you are successful at shortlisting you will be invited to attend an interview (which may be in person OR video call) in one of our international offices or through an approved agent via a secure web link. For international queries

    If you are invited to an interview and the date is not suitable we may not be able to offer you an alternative date due to the high volume of applications received for this course but it is important that you contact the admissions office immediately.
    If you are successful in both shortlisting and interview you will receive an offer which is subject to the following:

    1. evidence of achievement of the required academic qualifications.
    2. evidence of successful level 2 academic study
    3. completed NHS health questionnaire (further details are provided at the point of offer)
    4. a satisfactory enhanced check for regulated activity (formerly an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check)

    5. Social work is a professional qualification and a registered title and therefore the selection process is important as applicants need to demonstrate key skills in interpersonal and written communication and a beginner's understanding of the varied role of the social worker. Therefore if you are thinking about doing social work, it is very important that you research beforehand about the challenges and demands of the profession.

      • Research the BA (Hons) Social Work course and the University by looking at the website and, if possible, attend an undergraduate Open Day

      • Update yourself on current themes and issues in social work. Good websites to research are:
      - The British Association for Social Work and Social Workers site – is an excellent source for finding out about social work and the range of skills and knowledge necessary for professional practice.
      - The Guardian/social care
      - Social Care Institute for Excellence
      - Community Care

      • Review relevant legislation and policy frameworks such as:
      - Working together to safeguard children - GOV.UK .
      - Care and support statutory guidance - GOV.UK .

      • Get as much practical experience and information as you can. Also try and visit a social worker. Not only will it give you an insight into the realities of the sector, it will also give you vital information to discuss in the interview.

      • Useful texts to read
      - Thompson, N (2015) Understanding social work: Preparing for practice, (Macmillan)
      - Thompson, N (2016) Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity & Social Justice (Macmillan)

      Please note: until the above have been successfully completed the offer of a place on the course remains conditional.

      Bursary information
      This course attracts the Social Work Bursary, however, current allocation of bursaries for this course is for Years 2 and 3 only. There are limited bursaries available and allocation of these will not be made until after the summer academic boards at the end of Year 1. You should therefore plan to budget based on any funding you receive from Student Finance England as receipt of the bursary is not guaranteed.

      For additional information please see our entry requirements

      International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

      You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
      Find out more about RPL



Career opportunities

An honours degree in social work can lead to a long career as a professional social worker with adults or children. There are many job opportunities in local authority social work departments as well as voluntary sector organisations and increasingly new types of employers such as social enterprises and the private sector. The degree also provides you with transferable skills including report writing and interpersonal skills which can be applied across a range of graduate employment opportunities.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

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Entry to 2020/21 academic year

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years
  • UCAS code: L501 BA/SW
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 112-128 tariff points and interview

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



  • Not available part-time

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