School of Health Professions

BA (Hons) Social Work

Want to make a rewarding and positive contribution to society? Social workers support children and families through child protection procedures, fostering and adoption and youth justice to name but a few. They also support adults with issues including disability, drug and alcohol dependency, mental health, homelessness and safeguarding. You'll spend over 170 days on real-life placements with adults and children so you graduate ready to start your professional career.

You will get a head start – be eligible to apply to become a registered social worker as soon as you successfully complete the course. You will stand out from the crowd with a degree recognised by Social Work England. You'll gather insights and develop a real understanding of social work through our highly commended approach to integrated learning. you will equip yourself with the skills to be a reflective and ethical practitioner, committed to lifelong learning.

Careers with this subject

Understanding where your degree subject could take you is an important first step in career planning. Due to the transferrable nature of the skills you gain from your studies, you may discover that there is a much wider range of opportunities open to you within this profession that you may first appreciate.

What can you do with a social work degree?

Advice from graduate Lucinda Beattie:

"You have to be committed to studying and your placement, not only as part of the degree, but also as part of the profession. Research ways you can enhance your UCAS application. Employers look for experience, so volunteer, or work in areas such as support or enabling. Use the supportive framework within the University. Your tutors, the practice learning team, and lecturers are all there to support you, but they won’t ‘spoon-feed’ you. You need to be able to embrace ‘self-directed learning’ and a sense of autonomy, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you really need it."

Read more from Lucinda in her case study.

Key features

  • Get a head start – on successful completion of the course you can apply to become a registered social worker.
  • Stand out from the crowd with a degree recognised by Social Work England.
  • Benefit from the expertise of our network of partner agencies across the social work spectrum, learning from professionals to develop your skills.
  • Enhance your career options - six months after finishing the course, 95% of our graduates are in work or further study (source: 2019 DLHE survey*).
  • Gather insights and develop a real understanding of social work through our highly commended approach to integrated learning.
  • Build your hands-on knowledge and experience on an excellent variety of placements, working in real-life adult and childcare settings in all three years.
  • Engage with real service users and carers at every stage of your learning, so you graduate primed to put effective strategies to use in the workplace.
  • Learn about the increasing influence of global issues on social work and be inspired by staff who are leading the way in international social work.
  • Develop as a professional – equip yourself with the skills to be a reflective and ethical practitioner, committed to lifelong learning.
  • To complement your formal learning we offer regular PALS sessions that provide the opportunity for you to learn with and from your peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly environment. Find out more about the Peer Assisted Learning Scheme (PALS).

Course details
  • Year 1

  • In your first year, your work will cover the foundations of social work. You’ll start developing your professional identity in the complex environment of social work, learning about everything from the values that underpin theory and practice to the importance of self and identity, and the perspectives of users and carers to the connections between local and global issues. You’ll learn through doing, spending a minimum of 30 days in preparation for practice.

    Core modules

    • What is Social Work I (SCW451)

      This module introduces students to the joys, challenges, tensions and complexities of social work. Students explore how social work has evolved into its current professional status. Students are introduced to key social work themes, which occur against perceptions of practice as fluid and open to contestation.

    • Developing Professional Skills I (SCW452)

      This module provides the opportunity to explore and develop skills relating to the social work role. Skills rehearsal develops communication skills central to social work. Students engage in teaching and learning activities related to social work assessment and issues of power and oppression. They also undertake 30 days' 'readiness for direct practice'.

    • Contexts for Social Work: Organisations, Policy and Law I (SCW453)

      This module introduces students to key theoretical and ideological concepts in contemporary policy and legislation, which underpin the organisation and delivery of social and health care.

    • Human Development and Wellbeing I (SCW454)

      This module provides a multi-dimensional perspective of human growth and wellbeing by considering various theoretical frameworks. It engages with concepts such as grief, trauma and loss, vulnerability, stress, resilience and coping. It explores the human life cycle as well as the impact of variables such as socio-cultural change and intergenerational issues.

    • Understanding the Social World (SCW455)

      This module introduces students to foundational social theory in order to assist them to engage in critical analysis of the person in context.

    • Values and Ethics in Practice (SCW456)

      Students are introduced to the importance, relevance and impact of values, attitudes and beliefs in social work. They explore key concepts and perspectives underpinning the development of belief systems. The relationship with professional practise, service users, professional regulation and law is considered. Students develop skills in critical self-reflection from a personal and professional viewpoint.

  • Year 2

  • In your second year you’ll further your professional development, learning how to apply ethical and theoretical perspectives to human development, understanding social sciences in a social work setting and getting to grips with applying legal and social policy in the context of welfare. You’ll explore issues of diversity and difference, reflect on real-life issues that impact users and carers, and develop your skills in collaborative working. You’ll spend a minimum of 70 days on placement.

    Core modules

    • What is Social Work II (SCW551)

      Students develop their understanding of contemporary social work by exploring critical themes and debates which serve to define notions of professional identity. Building on SCW451 content, students engage with knowledge and perspectives congruent with promoting the transition to a professional identity, incorporating global and national perspectives.

    • Enhancing Professional Skills (SCW552)

      This module explores how knowledge is applied in direct work with children and families, adults and groups. Building on Stage One, specialist communication skills and assessment strategies are considered in order to understand how they can inform decision-making. Anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive principles underpinning social work are explored in order to promote value-based assessment.

    • Human Development and Well-being II (SCW554)

      Building on learning from the Stage One module 'Human Development and Wellbeing', this module will enable students to develop their knowledge base to critically analyse and understand the role of social work in promoting human development and the wellbeing of individuals and their families, groups and communities.

    • Exploring the Social World (SCW555)

      This module focuses on the social processes that combine to marginalise particular social groups. Consistent with practice learning in Stages One and Two, students are encouraged to reflect on their experiences of the non-statutory sector and services for such groups. They will develop skills of critically evaluating social research by appraising research undertaken in relation to a marginalised group.

    • Integrated Practice I (SCW556)

      This module will enable students to develop their professional identity through the integration of theory, methods, skills and values within practice. Combining classroom and practice based learning it will provide students with a repertoire of critical knowledge, skills and evidenced based responses congruent with working with people and situations where there are no clear-cut solutions.

    • Contexts for Social Work: Organisations, Policy and Law II (SCW557)

      This module will explore the range of policies and laws that provide the mandate for social work intervention in relation to different service user and carer groups. The module explores organisational contexts and cultures and their relevance to the understanding and application of law and policy in practice

  • Final year

  • In your final year, you’ll consolidate your learning, working towards becoming a safe, competent, ethical practitioner who demonstrates sound professional judgement. Learn how to analyse complex issues, and apply your knowledge and skills to resolve them. Gain a critical perspective on complex, uncertain and changing contexts in social work, further your skills working in multi-agency settings and develop your understanding of the international arena. You’ll spend a minimum of 100 days in complex social work settings.

    Core modules

    • Social Work Methods and Approaches (SCW652)

      This module focuses on the dynamic nature of social work practice by exploring contemporary and emerging issues. Students will explore how social work adapts to new challenges while staying consistent to the ethics, values and compassion in social work practice. Students will consider how social work theories, methods, approaches and new ways of working are adapted in complex or emerging areas both now and in the future.

    • Well-being: Accountability, Risk and Professional Decision-Making (SCW654)

      The module is designed to enable students to develop and apply their knowledge and understanding of professional social work accountability; risk assessment, risk management; and professional decision making in social work with adults, children and families.

    • Integrated Practice II (SCW656)

      The module enables students to consolidate their professional identity through integration of theory, methods, skills and values in practice. Teaching and practice learning provide students with a repertoire of evidenced based responses congruent with complex practice situations. The module seeks to prepare students for the socio-legal and procedural aspects of statutory social work.

    • Evidence Informed Practice for Social Work (SCW657)

      The module will identify Evidence Informed Practice as the synthesis of practice wisdom; service user experience; and research evidence. The focus is on practitioners as consumers of research accessing existing repositories of evidence such as systematic reviews and evidence based guidelines. Students complete systemic literature searches to identify the current evidence base for a specific social work intervention.

    • Social Work Extended Essay/Project (SCW658)

      This module enables students to build on skills established across the programme. Students will identify an area of social work practice that is pertinent to their current practice or their professional development. They will identify the rationale for the choice of topic and develop a review of what constitutes Evidence Informed Practice in relation to that topic.

    • Contexts for Social Work: Organisations, Policy and Law III (SCW659)

      Students are expected to demonstrate applied knowledge and sources of statutory and case law, and the impact on policy and practice in relation to practice learning within organisations; to demonstrate recognition of the need to promote the fundamental principles of human rights, social justice and economic wellbeing enshrined in national and international laws, conventions and policies and whilst addressing the effects of oppression and discrimination.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA Hons Social Work Programme Specification 2021 22 5389

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 -120

5 GCSEs at grade C/4, including Mathematics, English and Science. Preference is given to applicants who have obtained these grades on application. Consideration may be given to Functional Skills Level 2 in Mathematics.

Plus one of the following:

A levels
Typical offer of 104–120 points from a minimum of 3 A Levels or level 3 qualifications – social science preferred. General Studies not accepted.

27–28 points to include 5 at Higher Level. Social Science, Psychology or a Science profile preferred.

All Access courses:
Pass Access with 45 credits at level 3, 33 at merit/distinction level to include 15 level 3 credits in science/social science (psychology/sociology/criminology).

DMM-DDM – social science preferred.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Equivalent qualifications may be considered. Alternatively if you have any questions or concerns about meeting the entry requirements listed above we would encourage you to contact the Admissions Team on +44 1752 585858 or email, where a member of the team can offer you further advice.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Extended entry requirements

  • In addition to the above, evidence of academic study within the last five years is required.
  • You must pass disclosure and barring service and occupational health checks satisfactorily in order to be able to start this course.
  • If English is not your first language and you do not have GCSE English grade C or above you will have to achieve an IELTS or equivalent qualification at the grades stated below.
  • IELTS – 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all elements  (if you need to improve your English language to get onto a degree course at University of Plymouth, you can book a pre-sessional academic English course)
  • Meeting the academic minimum is the first stage of an application being considered. Applicants must also submit a strong personal statement in order to be considered further.
  • English language requirements
  • We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.
Further information

Direct entry to year 2
If you have achieved certificated learning in addition to the entry criteria required for your programme of study, it may be possible to accredit this learning towards your chosen course. Full details on how to make an application are available on our open access Moodle site (download details on how to access the site and submit your claim and supporting evidence). Your application will then be assessed and you will receive confirmation by email on the status of your claim.

Deferred entry
Unfortunately we cannot permit deferred entry. However, if you have a query please refer to an experienced admissions administrator who will be able to explain the UCAS application process in more detail

International Application Deadline
Due to this programme requiring applicants to have an interview and meet non-academic conditions, the deadline for international applications is 30 June 2021 for September 2021 entry.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
Part time (Home) N/A £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Undergraduate Merit Scholarship for international students

Scholarship value: £2000 off your tuition fees in year one. 
To recognise continued academic achievement, you may also receive:

  • 10% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 60% or above is maintained
  • 20% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 70% or above is maintained.
To be eligible you must:
  • achieve one grade above your academic offer.
  • meet our standard English Language requirements.

This scholarship will be offered automatically, providing you meet the eligibility criteria. A separate application will not be required.

Further information about Scholarships for international students

Additional costs


All students within the School of Health Professions will spend time in placements away from university. The South West is a largely rural region, which often requires students to travel longer and further distances than may be expected when universities are in largely urban areas. In many cases students will stay away from home for the period of that placement time. Some students on these courses are eligible for reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs over normal daily travel costs. This support is part of the Learning Support Fund administered through the NHS Business Services Authority. However, this should be investigated by the student to make sure this applies to your chosen course of study.

It is difficult to give a precise estimate of placement costs for each individual programme, due to the geographical spread of placements, and duration. However it is recommended you attend an Open Day to find out more about what placement costs can be anticipated or discuss placement with a member of our admissions teams.

Despite these costs, clinical placements offer an excellent opportunity to learn from experienced clinicians and are recognised as an essential part of students' development towards becoming a registered practitioner.

Further information

More details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Health additional costs.

NHS bursaries

You may apply for a bursary which offsets some of the cost of going to university. More information can be found on the NHS Business Services Authority website

How to apply
All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Professional accreditation

On successful completion of the course, you are eligible to apply for registration with Social Work England


You’ll spend over 170 days on placement during the course. You’ll have the chance to experience what it’s like to work in a variety of settings, these may include community-based projects, fostering teams, a variety of mental health teams and services, drug and alcohol teams, older adults, hospital discharge, children and family work, young adults or working with asylum seekers.

Learning support

Our social work team is committed to providing you with the best possible learning experience during your time on the course. As well as the standard teaching, you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in activities working with wider issues locally and globally – giving you a better understanding of the issues relevant to social workers around the world. Possibilities exist (subject to agreement) for undertaking placements in different countries such as Africa or accessing the Erasmus scheme for a European placement in the year following graduation. 

Personal holidays

In order to successfully complete your course and be eligible to apply for a professional registration you must complete a specified number of practice placement hours along with your theoretical study. Therefore you’ll only be able to take personal holidays during the specified leave periods for your course. This includes induction week where it is vital you attend all sessions.

Social Worker of the Year Awards

Three social work graduates were shortlisted for the 2018 Social Worker of the Year Awards, which aim to celebrate the achievements of practitioners in both children’s and adult services. In 2017, Gareth Benjamin, a graduate from the BA programme in 2013, won the Mental Health Social Worker of the Year category.

Margaret Jelley, Lecturer in Social Work said:

“These successes prove that the social work programmes at the University are producing excellent social work professionals, recognised at national level.”

Learn more about the 2018 awards

Greta Cerniauskaite

As a child Greta moved from Lithuania to the UK. The support she was given helped her to integrate and inspired her to study social work

The second year of University provided an eye-opening journey, I would have never expected to gain such a vast range of knowledge and experiences from a degree. My practice placement was at British Red Cross Refugee Services and my degree equipped me with the knowledge to engage with the service users and provide the information or support they required.

To find out more about Greta's experiences you can read her profile


Could our graduates inspire you?

“When you're working with people in a really vulnerable time of their lives, you feel really privileged that they've let you in and they've trusted you and that is a really rewarding part of the role.”

Enya Richards explains the moment she realised she was becoming a social worker and her most challenging moment so far.

Find out more about Enya's story

Read Enya's article 'Social work's person-centred focus will be key to a sustainable future after the pandemic'. This article first appeared in the May 2020 edition of Professional Social Work magazine published by the British Association of Social Workers.

Alison Smith

Alison graduated from BA (Hons) Social Work in 2014. She decided to pursue her interest in social policy and further education and is now studying MSc Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Southampton.

"The University was very supportive and nurturing and allowed me to leave feeling confident in my ability to perform as a social worker; this had a significant impact on my career aspirations. Further to this, the placements that I went on during my time at Plymouth gave me the experience I needed to take the next steps in my career."

Learn more about Alison's experiences

Gareth Benjamin

Since graduating in 2013, Gareth has developed an interest in mental health and recently was honoured with winning the Mental Health Social Worker of the Year 2017 Gold Award. Gareth now works as a Social Worker for Livewell Southwest.

“Plymouth prepared me well for the challenges of my career. My final year placement gave me an insight into the work I would be carrying out and the course helped me develop the skills needed to succeed in an environment where you must be creative in finding solutions."

Find out more about Gareth's story

Undergraduate International Merit Scholarship

This scholarship will be offered automatically, providing you meet the eligibility criteria. A separate application will not be required.

Scholarship value: £2000 off your tuition fees in year one.

To recognise continued academic achievement, you may also receive:

  • 10% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 60% or above is maintained
  • 20% off the successive years tuition fee if an overall grade of 70% or above is maintained.

To be eligible you must:

  • achieve one grade above your academic offer.
  • meet our standard English Language requirements.

Further information: please email us at:

English Language Centre

We offer a range of courses to help you develop your academic English language skills.

These include pre-sessional academic English courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students along with insessional language classes, tutorials and activities to support students who have English as a second language.

Find out how we can help you reach your potential.

International students

Thinking about coming to study in Plymouth? Find the answers to many of your questions here, as well as links to places where you can discover more.

Find out more about studying in Plymouth

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni (Unistats) is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Graduate Outcomes survey (formally DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Discover Uni (Unistats) website.