These degree programmes are aimed at creating capable social work practitioners who can meet the needs of service users and also be able to work in a fast changing working environment. With courses being designed to help students achieve to achieve personal academic growth, professional development and higher level skills.

Typically degrees consist of two main sections, tailored course work and also work placements. Considerable emphasis is placed on the practical work experience side of the degree as it facilitates the learning of real life skills. These placements also provide undergraduates with the opportunity to test the classroom skills and knowledge they’ve learnt in a social work practice setting. The degrees are taught through traditional methods such as seminars, presentations and group debate.

Social work degree overview
The first year is focused on introducing students to key areas and theories of sociology. The second year provides a wider scope for specialisation and will build on the first years achievements by introducing opportunities to gain real life working experience through placements. The third or final year will include yet more workplace placements and also further learning.

Importance is placed on learning how to build trusting relationships with local authorities, other healthcare professionals, service users and carers. Courses tend to be suitable for both experienced individuals as well as those with little or no social work-related experience. Courses aim to give students the opportunity, experience and encouragement to be able to:

  • Understand issues of social exclusion.
  • Work competently in a range of settings where social work takes place.
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of the legal, policy and organisational contexts of social work.
  • Work in a complex and changing welfare environment.
  • Promote well-being and make a real difference.
  • Have a clear understanding of anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.
  • Work across the four settings of social work: children and families, disability, mental health and adults.
  • Help people find solutions to their problems.
  • Enable individuals to live more happily within their local communities.

At the end of your course you must be able to demonstrate competence to a level required by both the QAA Benchmark Statement for Social Work and the National Occupational Standards for Social Work (NOS).

Social work degree assessment
Students will be assessed through direct evaluation, observation and supervision of their university coursework. Out in the field when they are their placements they will be assessed by a practice assessor who will then report back to the university and the course its tutors. Other areas of a students work that will be assessed are;

  • Assignments
  • Portfolio work.
  • End of year or end of module exams.
  • Case studies
  • Presentations
  • Continuous assessment throughout the course.
  • 200 days of practical placements, these are usually in the second and third years.

Entry and admission
For most university courses the minimum requirement is for 240 UCAS points achieved from three A-levels or equivalent qualification. Apart from this no other special academic requirements are required, although any relevant practical experience (for instance voluntary work) is greatly valued.

Students may have to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check and should be prepared to declare any criminal convictions. It should be noted that none of these mentioned points are necessary bars to acceptance on a course.

Social work degree structure and typical course content

Year 1 modules

  • The key elements of social work.
  • Health and social care organizations.
  • Social work law.
  • Social work models and theory.
  • Preparation for practice.
  • Social divisions and social diversity.
  • Human growth and development.
  • Disability in society.
  • Preparation for professional practice.
  • Research methods and strategy.

Year 2 modules

  • Practice learning – placement.
  • Human development.
  • Social Work Methods and Investigations
  • Approaches to solving social problems.
  • Risk, Responsibility & Resolution.
  • Inter-agency practice, partnership and collaboration.
  • Welfare policy and management of resources.
  • Social work and drug use.
  • Partnership and participation: ethical dilemmas in practice.
  • Communication for professional practice.
  • Welfare and organisations.

Year 3 modules

  • Social work research.
  • Dissertation.
  • Supervised research on a topic of your interest.
  • Practice learning – placement.
  • Individuals, families and communities.
  • Social work and young people.
  • International social work studies.

How long does the degree course last
Most full time course will last the standard three years.

Career prospects and course relevancy
In the UK demand for social workers is strong and predicted to remain so for the foreseeable future. There are a wide range of employment opportunities across various sectors and settings including; NHS Trusts, local authorities, voluntary organisations and the private sector.

To practice as and become a qualified social worker you must possess a degree qualification in social work. Breaking this down even further a bachelor’s degree is required for virtually all entry level social work positions, a master’s degree in social work or a related field is necessary for some other positions.


Certain universities can have a strict selection process where they insist on interviewing all applicants. If this is the case then its important that you prepare for it thoroughly.

Interviews can be in a group, with up to 10 potential undergraduates and say two members of staff. Or they can be individual one to one affairs with just you and a senior course tutor. The assessment and interview can last from a few hours to all day. Just like in a job interview they will be assessing your social and interpersonal skills as well as your academic potential. They will look at your:

  • Attitude.
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Subject knowledge.
  • Social skills.
  • Body language.
  • Approach to dealing with different and difficult situations.

Questions you are likely to be asked at the interview stage

  • Why do you want to be a social worker?
  • What are the current issues in the media facing social workers? (they mean any high profile cases).
  • In your opinion what is the role of a social worker?
  • What is the difference between a social worker and a support worker?
  • What do you want to get out of the course?
  • What challenges do you see for yourself within the degree course?
  • What are the values of a social worker?
  • Have you got any questions that you want to ask us?
  • What do you consider to be your biggest weaknesses?
  • What do you consider to be your biggest strengths?

The interview can also include the following

  • You may be asked to comment on any current news stories regarding social work, so
  • A short film, usually a documentary may be played, after the screening there will be a discussion about the issues raised in it.
  • You may be asked to write notes on key contemporary issues, the assessor will be looking at your writing skills.
  • Scenario and role play sessions.
  • You will be presented with case studies and then asked to comment on them.
  • A maths test.
  • A discussion on diversity and discrimination issues.
  • If you are in a group interview scenario then towards the end you may be asked to assess the performance of other applicants.

Tips for the interview:

  • Listen to all questions fully before answering them.
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer whilst they are talking.
  • Demonstrate that you are eager and want to learn.
  • Try to find out beforehand how long it will last.
  • Be up to date with legislation on disability, discrimination and child abuse.
  • Make sure your punctual and get there on time.


Below is a professionally written social work personal statement that has been broken down into different sections. You are advised not to copy it word for word, but to instead use it as a guide.

Social work personal statement example 1

I am a motivated, adaptable and responsible student, who has the temperament, key skills and knowledge that are essential for the social work sector. Possessing a friendly and approachable demeanour, which is invaluable for this field, I am also inquisitive and always trying to learn and sample new things.

Personal skills
I consider myself to be a good communicator, team leader and motivator, who can get along well with people from all social, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. I am very energetic in my approach to work, and have a high work ethic, which makes me eager to get on. This doesn’t mean I rush things, instead I focus on staying composed when going about my work, and pay attention to detail. My communication skills are excellent, and I can function just as well as part of a team or on my own initiative. I am very approachable, trustworthy and non-judgemental, and have tremendous motivation to succeed at any tasks I am in the process of doing.

Work experience
To gain more valuable and practical experience I worked over the summer months as a volunteer at a local charity for vulnerable people. In this position it was my responsibility to assist the full time staff with various duties, including dealing with enquiries from the general public and updating administrative records using specialist software packages. This was a great way for me to get to know more about real social work, and I enjoyed being able to help people at times in their life when they required it. On occasions and in the absence of some staff I was involved in a wide range of fields like; child care, disability, social work law, social work methods, substance misuse and criminal justice. It was during these periods that I realised how much difference a social worker can make by just listening and being supportive to an individual family member.

The job often required me to work unsociable hours, which was not a problem for me. Overall I felt that the experience has really helped to build up my confidence in my abilities, and confirmed to me that I want a career in this field.

College experience
Extra-curricular activities and after college clubs were are a fundamental part of my college  education.  My intensive involvement in college productions, various concerts and clubs, will illustrate this. I had high expectations of all my classes and realised the benefits of thorough planning and organisational skills. As a very team minded and socially responsible person, I had no problem with passing on the skills and knowledge that I had learnt to any of my fellow students who were struggling with their studies. I gained great satisfaction from seeing other people achieve their goals knowing I had helped them.

My ambition
My goal is to one day become a qualified social worker, and to find a challenging and rewarding role working with vulnerable adults or children. I want it to be a position that will fully utilise my empathetic nature and help me to develop my own skills further.

I enjoy a wide variety of activities which I share with my family such as; music events, theatre, visiting places of historical value within Britain and travelling abroad to experience different countries and cultures.

Reason I chose your university
After reading your prospectus and visiting your campus I was impressed by how much your courses are professionally relevant to current developments and practice through the close involvement of employers and practitioners in course planning and delivery, and practice supervision. This is important to me as it means that it is much more likely that undergraduates will be taught those competencies that employers are looking for. This fact is backed up by your institutions outstanding graduate employment record in the field of social work.”

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