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’ll 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 the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). 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

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 – be eligible to apply to become a registered social worker as soon as you successfully complete the course.
  • Stand out from the crowd with a degree recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
  • 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 - 85 per cent of students go on to work or further study (source: 2016 NSS and 2016 DLHE survey results available on Unistats*).
  • 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
    • SCW451 What is Social Work I

    • SCW452 Developing Professional Skills I

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

    • SCW455 Understanding the Social World

    • SCW454 Human Development and Wellbeing I

    • SCW456 Values and Ethics in Practice

  • 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
    • SCW556 Integrated Practice I

    • SCW552 Enhancing Professional Skills

    • SCW554 Human Development and Well-being II

    • SCW555 Exploring the Social World

    • SCW551 What is Social Work II

    • SCW553 Contexts for Social Work: Organisations, Policy and Law II

  • 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
    • SCW656 Integrated Practice II

      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.

    • SCW652 Social Work Methods and Approaches

      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.

    • SCW653 Contexts for Social Work: Organisations, Policy and Law III

      An exploration of organisational theories in social work considering different settings, legislative and policy frameworks, patterns of governance, style of leadership, and organisational culture. An examination of organisational dilemmas, change and how to survive 'social work in flux'; differing models of supervisory, team working and leadership styles; alternative models of entrepreneurial social work delivery.

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

      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.

    • SCW658 Social Work Extended Essay/Project

      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.

    • SCW657 Evidence Informed Practice for Social Work

      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.

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 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.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


Five GCSEs grade C or above to include mathematics, English and science. Preference is given to applicants who have obtained these grades on application.


A levels
BBB, excluding general studies.

24 points (with a minimum of 12 at Higher Level). Social science profile preferred.

All Access courses
Pass Access to HE Diploma with at least 45 credits at level 3, 33 at distinction/merit, which must include 15 level 3 credits in science/social science (psychology, sociology or criminology). You will need GCSE English and mathematics at grade C, if not already held.

Please note any access course completed and achieved prior to 2014, the GCSE English and maths equivalences will be accepted.

Diploma 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 01752 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.
  • Please note we do not accept Key Skills Level 2 in place of GCSE English or mathematics.
  • 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 Plymouth University, 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.
Further information

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

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

Harrison Nash – BSc (Hons) Social Work graduate

Plymouth University set a high standard from the range of learning opportunities, the facilities, and support available both face to face and through the online portal and email.

Whilst studying for his degree Harrison founded the Maranatha Care Children charity.

Find out more about Harrison

Karl Knill – BA (Hons) Social Work graduate

I would recommend undertaking a social work course at Plymouth University because of the fantastic staff who underpin the programme and the vital links they have with practice learning opportunities throughout the south west.

Find out more about Karl Knill

Luci Beattie - student profile

Plymouth University is a very supportive environment; the whole course is structured to help you become a reflective and ethical practitioner. The lectures are interesting and engaging, with varied guest speakers to enhance the learning experiences.

Find out more about Luci Beattie

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.