Social Work - BSc (Hons)

Course Overview

The essential course information

Download the course factsheet
UCAS Code:
BSc (Hons)
Full Time (3 years)
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
City South

This course offers the opportunity to learn the required social work skills and knowledge which includes issues inherent in social work practice such as equality, diversity, social justice, and legislative and policy frameworks. This is done by consideration of different service user groups’ needs and safeguarding through the understanding of human growth and development. It places you where your studies will benefit you most: among the people and communities you will serve.

To become a social worker you need to be competent at:

  • Communicating
  • Assessing and risk assessment
  • Team working
  • Thinking flexibly and creatively
  • Understanding and applying law and policy
  • Working with diversity in challenging environments

What's covered in the course?

The course links theory to practice for effective and sensitive work with vulnerable groups to enable them to gain maximum possible independence while safeguarding them from harm and risk.

You develop and maintain the confidence of service users, and protect their rights, effectively promoting their interests and ensuring equality. Throughout, the course stresses the importance of being accountable for the quality of your work and taking responsibility for maintaining your knowledge, skills and values.

The course prepares you for direct practice and provides experience in a variety of settings in partnership with employers over the duration of the programme, working with vulnerable groups and individuals with differing needs. For example, this may involve working in a day-care setting, for groups who require a few hours of attention daily, or in a fieldwork setting, carrying out assessments, developing care plans identifying and responding to risk, managing complex case loads and prioritising work, and delivering appropriate services.

“Some of my colleagues envy the teaching we received at Birmingham City University when they hear what we covered.”
Taiwona Kanjanda

Why Choose Us?

  • A significant period of time on the programme is spent on placement, observing and engaging with the realities of social work.
  • You complete at least 30 days of developing core skills for social work practice and 170 days of assessed practice work with various service user groups.
  • Placements are available in a wide range of social work and social care settings in the statutory, private, independent and voluntary sectors, and the final year placement will always involve working and learning in statutory social work interventions.
  • The course covers all aspects of social work, enabling you to aim for careers in specialist social work agencies as well as roles in education and health.
  • Staff members’ extensive experience of social work practice brings insight, depth, expertise and realism to your learning, and ensures the teaching reflects the current climate in social work practice.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

A minimum of 280 UCAS tariff points.

Level 2 qualifications which must be achieved PRIOR to application:
GCSE at Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics. (Equivalent qualifications such as Key Skills Level 2, Adult Numeracy Level 2, Adult Literacy Level 2, Functional Skills English and Maths Level 2 or CSE Grade 1 will be accepted).
Irish Leaving Certificate - Mathematics and English Ordinary Level passes at Grade B3 or above.
Scottish qualifications – Mathematics and English passes at Intermediate Standard 2 or above.
Plus one of the following Level 3 qualifications which you may be working towards:
GCE A/A2 level
280 UCAS tariff points from minimum of three A/A2 level passes. General Studies not accepted. Health and Social Sciences preferred.
GCE AS/A1 level
Two subjects accepted with two GCE A/A2 levels. Must achieve a minimum of 280 tariff points. General Studies not accepted.
GCE/AVCE Double Award in Health and Social Care
GCE/AVCE Double Award at grade CC with remaining UCAS tariff points from a maximum of one GCE A/A2 level. General Studies not accepted.
BTEC National Certificate in Children's Care, Learning and Devt (Theory) (2007 onwards)
Accepted on its own and combined with other qualifications.
BTEC National Diploma (18 units - not including Early Years)
Minimum Grade DMM required (260 tariff points).
BTEC National Diploma in Children's Care, Learning and Devt (Theory) (2007 onwards)
Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications.
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Minimum Grade 32
CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education
Minimum Grade C required (240 tariff points).
Access to HE Diploma in a Health, Social Care or Social Science related subject.
Full award (60 credits) of which a minimum of 45 must be at Level 3 including 24 at Merit or Distinction in a Science or Health related subject and 15 at Level 2, must include Mathematics and English Language GCSE equivalent if not already achieved.
The Open University K101 - An Introduction to Health and Social Care
Completion of full year (transcripts will be required).
Irish Leaving Certificate
Maximum of 5 Highers at Grade C3 or above to achieve 240 UCAS tariff points.
Scottish Qualifications
Maximum of 5 Advanced Highers at Grade C or above to achieve 240 UCAS tariff points.
BTEC/Scottish Higher National Certificate (HNC)
Required in a Health and Social Sciences subject.
BTEC/Scottish National Higher Diploma (HND)
Preferably in a Health and Social Sciences subject.
European Baccalaureate
Required in a Social Care subject.
14 –19 Progression Diploma in Society, Health and Development
Minimum Grade B to achieve 250 UCAS tariff points.
14-19 Advanced Diploma in Society, Health and Development
Full award to achieve 250 UCAS tariff points.

Successful applicants must meet the International English Language Test (IELTS) at Level 7, and confirm prior to interview decision/offer that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities.

Portfolio route

A Portfolio route has been devised for those applicants who have significant relevant experience of working with vulnerable people but do not meet the formal entry requirements. To follow this route you are still expected to possess GCSE Mathematics and English or equivalent.


  • You will need to have three or more years' relevant experience in a role which involves experience of undertaking work with vulnerable people, and which can be transferable into social work practice. This involves work such as assessment, care/support planning, co-ordination of services with other professionals, and reviewing.
  • You are required to have GCSE Mathematics and English or equivalent.

The portfolio is made up of the following:

  1. A reflective account reviewing your own role, skills and areas for development in relation to your practice - 1,000 words
  2. An analysis of a case that you have worked on - 1,000 words
  3. A reflection on your performance during the direct observation and the feedback given by the social worker - 500 words
  4. A report by a social worker on the direct observation of your current practice
  5. Two references/testimonials - one from your line manager and one from a qualified social worker (again, preferably a senior social worker or above).

To apply via the portfolio route, you will need to put the items above together in a folder (portfolio) and send it to the admissions tutor with an application form. The portfolio is then looked at by academic staff at the university, who will evaluate the work and make a judgement about the applicant's suitability for the Social Work programme. Successful applicants will be invited to attend an admissions day where they will undertake a written test, group exercise and individual interview.

In addition:

  • Applicants must have evidence of study within the last five years and/or current relevant practice experience in a social care setting.
  • Applicants are required to complete a written exercise on attendance at the selection day.
  • Applicants will be required to participate in a group work exercise.
  • Applicants are required to complete a face-to-face engagement, normally in the format of an interview.
  • A second reference for Access/BTEC students from the original referee is to be provided to the institution by 30 April of the enrolment year.

Places are subject to a satisfactory Occupational Heath Check, and a Disclosure and Barring Service report .

Applicants should be aware that qualifications, personal statement, references, interview, group and written exercise all form part of the selection criteria for this course.

How to Apply

Full Time: Apply through UCAS.
UCAS Code: L501.
Apply via UCAS

Feedback will only be available to those who were invited to interview.

This course is not available to International Students

Admissions Process

The admissions process is in three stages, using a range of activities to evaluate your potential to undertake social work education and practice.

Stage one

Your application and personal statements are screened for eligibility against the entry requirements and shortlisted. If you're successfully shortlisted you'll be invited to an admissions day at the university. During the day you will be evaluated in a number of areas.

Stage two

You demonstrate your written and analytical skills, and your ability to interact and perform in a group task. You have to pass both these elements to progress to an individual interview later the same day.

Stage three

During an individual interview, you are expected to demonstrate your individual application of skills, knowledge and values required in the social work profession. The process is mapped against The College of Social Work's Professional Capabilities Framework at entry level, and you will have to meet these criteria.  

You are required to pass each stage of the process to progress to the next. Only those applicants who are successful in each stage will be offered a place on the course.  

Preparing an application

When preparing to write your application and personal statement you need to make sure you tell us about a number of things so that we can make sure you have a good chance of being shortlisted. It is essential to say:

  • Why are you applying for social work - what is your interest?
  • Why you think you are suitable for social work.

Indicate that you have some awareness of what social work is, and what social workers do. What are some of the challenges and dilemmas that social workers face? Think about issues such as equality, diversity and empathy and their relevance to social work.

Show that you understand what is required to study social work.

What skills and experience do you have (either paid or voluntary) that would be transferable in social work practice? It is increasingly important to have experience of working with vulnerable groups of people.

What values do you have that are appropriate in social work? How do these relate to working with vulnerable people in an anti-discriminatory way?

Do you have any hobbies or interests that demonstrate skills relevant to social work?

If you have an idea of what you would like to achieve after completing the course, explained how you want to use the knowledge and experience gained.

If you are including a non-academic reference, make sure that the person providing this knows you very well, and is able to comment upon your skills, qualities and potential to be a social worker.

Preparing for an admissions day

Here is some advice for those who have been successfully shortlisted and invited to an admissions day:

You will receive an invitation from the university including the date, arrival time, where to go and where to report to. There will be contact details of who to contact if you have difficulties. You will also be sent more detailed information about the course and about the admissions day.

Arrive on time – latecomers might not be able to proceed and may have to re-book.

Make sure you arrive at the Birmingham City University Campus on Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, as some applicants who are not familiar with Birmingham have turned up at the wrong campus or the wrong university in the past.

Inform the University well in advance if you have any specific needs during the day. Reasonable adjustments can only be made with advance notice and evidence of an educational needs assessment. Applicants with specific needs should provide us with at least two weeks' advance notice from the date of invitation. If you do not inform us we may have to reschedule, if that is viable.

When engaging with the written task, focus on analysing what is going on in the case scenario you will be given. Keep description down to a limit and focus on your assessment of the situation.

Be prepared to contribute to a small group discussion. Those who say little or convey limited knowledge and understanding of social work may not demonstrate sufficient capabilities required to proceed to an interview. Be sensitive to other participants in the discussion.

If you proceed to an individual interview consider the following:

Be clear about why you want to be a social worker.

Do some research into what social work is, and what it sets out to achieve. Prepare examples of how social workers can support vulnerable people.

Consider what skills you have that can be useful in social work. How could you develop these skills?

Give some thought to what knowledge you would need to be a social worker. Prepare examples of any theories, legislation or policy social workers might use.

Consider what values are needed to work with vulnerable people and to work in an anti-discriminatory way. Do some homework on the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), who are the regulatory body for social work and social work education. What do they say about values and standards? Also check out the role of The College of Social Work and the British Association of Social Workers’ (BASW) code of ethics.

Think about the academic skills you have developed in previous study, and how you will meet the demands of studying at degree level. Consider examples of how you would do this.

UCAS Information

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 3 years BSc (Hons) £9,000 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Social Work bursaries are available in Years 2 and 3 of study when students undertake placements. Not all students will be eligible and the criteria for receiving a bursary follow NHS inclusion criteria for undergraduate students. Funding may be available, subject to confirmation by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Financial options and advice

The future arrangements for the social work bursary are going out to consultation for reform. There are five options being consulted on. The reform was requested by the Social Work Reform Board to improve quality and commitment, and encourage entry into the social work profession.

Financial Support

More information is available from the Student Loan Company.

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

Upon graduation you are eligible to register with the Health and Care Professions Council to practise as a professional social worker.

With a significant part of the programme taking place in practice settings, this course is highly regarded by local and national employers. The experience gained from practice placements vastly improves employment prospects.

Other student opportunities

To enhance your CV, we offer extra-curricular student opportunities, such as a major incident simulation, that you can get involved in.

Student opportunities  >>


Placements take place across a range of agencies including local authorities, voluntary and independent organisations, in a variety of settings such as residential, day care, schools, housing, hospitals and Social Work teams.

In Year 1 a shadowing experience with a Social Care or Social Work practitioner is part of a module called Readiness for Practice. Year 2 involves a 70-day placement, and a 100-day placement is undertaken in Year 3.

Further Studies

The BSc (Hons) awarded on completion forms the basis for progression onto further study.

Employers encourage graduates to continue professional development including post-qualification training in child care, adult services and mental health.

A comprehensive portfolio of post-registration short courses that focuses on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is available, along with other postgraduate schemes.

Full Time

About KIS data

From September 2012, all universities and colleges are publishing standardised information for all undergraduate courses in the form of a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS data is designed to meet the needs of prospective students and allow for informed decision-making when choosing a university course.

Putting our students first

We pride ourselves on our student satisfaction levels which have risen from 73 per cent to 83 per cent between 2010 and 2012. Our dedication to improving the student experience is illustrated by our award-winning student engagement, our close links with business and industry and our £180 million investment in new facilities.

Employability facts

92 per cent of leavers from the social work course who responded to our survey entered employment (and/or further study), earning an average salary of £25,000 after six months. Employers including Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust offering positions such as Social Worker and District Nurse.

Working with your Students’ Union

Improving student satisfaction is a priority commitment shared by both Birmingham City University and its Students’ Union. In its strategic planning, the Union has pledged to be more accessible, more relevant and provide more opportunity to engage with a diverse student community.

The Students’ Union is already a key stakeholder in supporting an excellent teaching experience at Birmingham City University, through joint projects such as the Extra Mile Teaching Awards and the Student Rep scheme, which allows students to share their ideas on how they are taught.

As Birmingham City University moves towards a two campus strategy where it can better support enhanced learning and student support facilities across a two-mile radius, the Students’ Union will also be better able to implement its commitment to improve communication and engage with its valued student membership.

Course Structure

The programme will enable you to understand and develop a full range of competencies required to be a Social Worker, within the required national standards of the Professional Capabilities Framework and the Standards of Proficiencies.

The course brings together the very personal skills such as listening and communication, with the ability to assess, act and work in partnership with service users in order to build relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

Year 1

The first year provides a foundation to the programme and involves skills-based learning, together with an introduction to law, policy and theoretical models relevant to Social Work. Students complete at least 30 days of developing skills for Social Work practice.

A readiness to practice programme includes a shadowing opportunity with a Social Care or Social Work practitioner. There is a particular focus on the development of values required for effective anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice in a diverse society.

Year 2

The second year enables the student to develop an understanding of theories and methods, together with law and policy in more depth. It also includes teaching and learning opportunities to develop inter professional working, and an evidence-based approach to Social Work practice.

A 70-day placement in an organisation that relates to Social Work practice is an essential feature of this year. Before the year ends, students are introduced to the Research Evaluation Module that occurs in Year 3, and give the opportunity to begin their dissertations.

Year 3

The key element of Year 3 is a 100-day placement. Wherever possible this is in a setting that provides Social Work services to the public and to work alongside qualified Social Workers. This year continues to build upon the legislative, policy and theoretical frameworks, and focuses on the student applying these in simulated scenarios to practice skills and in actual situations during the practice placement. There is an emphasis upon developing critical reflective practice.

The Research Evaluation Module enable students to undertake a dissertation, understand a range of research methodologies relevant to Social Work, and to explore an area of specialist interest. The dissertation involves developing a research proposal on the basis of this learning. It enables the student to develop an appreciation of the contribution of research to Social Work practice and to the continuous learning and development throughout a Social Worker’s career.

Support and simulated learning experiences are provided to enhance the student’s employability potential, which includes valuable input from employers, Social Workers, service users and carers.

Supported teaching, learning and assessment

The academic team are all experienced qualified social workers and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. They are an enthusiastic and creative team who base their teaching practice upon contemporary research and Social Work practice.

Running throughout the three years is robust yet supported academic teaching, learning and assessment. Each student has a personal tutor to support and oversee their progress and development. There is considerable emphasis throughout the whole programme on the development of the skills required to become a professional Social Worker.

You receive regular tutorial support that focuses on both your academic and pastoral wellbeing.

What else we offer

In 2013 after months of training, a select few health professionals ventured to Nepal to learn about international healthcare as part of an optional extra-curricular experience. This is their diary.

Additional support

If you are dyslexic, have a specific learning difference or a disability, we have a Disability Tutor who can help and support you. 

More on our disability tutor >>

We offer extra technical and learning support.

Assessment Methods

You will be assessed throughout each academic year on your understanding of issues and your ability to apply this understanding to practice. Assessment will be through written assignments, written examinations, viva voce examinations, structured skills simulation exercises, reflective diaries, group presentations, a practice portfolio and a research dissertation.

Some of the assessments are designed to test certain competencies or essential skills but do not count as credits towards the final award. Those assessments are as follows:

Title of ModuleThe non-credit assessment name (e.g. competencies)Brief descriptionWhen (year) the assessment takes place in the programme
Law and Readiness For Practice (SOW 4014) Shadowing Viva (Pass or fail) Students will undertake 5 days of shadowing in a Social Care setting in order to gain an insight into work undertaken. Students sit a Viva Voce examination at the end of the academic year in order to demonstrate learning undertaken. At the end of the academic year (year 1)
Practice Placement 2 (SOW 5010) Viva (Pass or Fail) For students to demonstrate learning and making links between academic input and practice issues At the end of the academic year (Year 2)

Taiwona Kajanda

Shanta Mangat

The Course:

The course is 50/50 classroom and placements. There are high expectations of students – but there is a lot of support from tutors, peer group and academic staff available to get us all through. As a mature student you face the same workload and challenges as any other student, though having a background in care and the skills developed in the working world have helped with little things like prioritising and time management. In the first year my placement involved working with adults with dementia in a day centre. This year I have been working with young women in a hostel for the homeless.

The University:

I knew some current students here who said Birmingham City University had a lot to offer. One of the positive things about it is the friendly atmosphere. It is like a family – you are looked after so well. Life at the University has been like a second home and I will be sad to move. Meeting lots of different types of people and forming friendships with the younger students has been an unexpected bonus. I love it here. I would be happy to recommend it to anyone.

The City:

I am from Birmingham and I love it. The city includes many different types of people from different backgrounds – a perfect example of diversity.

The Individual:

Because I have a family as well as working part time, there are times when my commitments become a bit of juggling act. I have managed my working hours by negotiating flexi-shifts which allow me to study and also go out on placement. But for anyone who has been out of education and would like a second bite at the cherry, I can only encourage you. University life has been amazing – I enjoy the intellectual challenge and don't feel at all out of place as a mature student. I even forget that I have reached a grand age. It has been a pleasant journey back into education.

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. It’s no surprise that the Complete University Guide placed us in the UK top 10 for spending on facilities in both 2012 and 2013.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses some of the best learning facilities in the UK.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.

Home Environment Room

The Home Environment room is the perfect setting for teaching communications skills, allowing us to simulate a community setting for our students. It is particularly useful for paramedics, mental health and learning disability nurses and also midwives.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

You will have access to all of the University’s libraries, including the main Kenrick Library on the City North Campus, which is open for almost 90 hours a week and holds more than 320,000 books, 2,000 print journals and carries more than 4,000 electronic journals online.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Corporate ICT Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

This course is not available to International Students


For an overview of our undergraduate courses and a range of other information order a printed Prospectus or download a PDF of our Prospectus (16Mb).

Similar Courses

You may be interested in these similar courses...