Social Work - BSc (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years)
September 2016

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.

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.
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This course is not open to International students
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work

Discover the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Land Rover Spares
  • Mosely Hall Hospital

And in jobs such as:

  • Quality Engineer

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.

New UCAS tariff

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BSc (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £9,000 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

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.

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.

Additional costs

We offer a wide range of professionally accredited and vocational courses that require the purchase of, among other things, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions, professional body memberships and DBS checks, and may require you to pay to attend conferences or participate in placements.

The link below provides our estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs to you could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course. We set out where we can, based on experience, where these indicative costs are for activities that are optional or compulsory.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Guidance for UK/EU students


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

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

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Our advice for applying to a health care course

Applying for a course and preparing for an interview can be a daunting process, so we have created a series of films to help you through the process, including what to put in your personal statement.

More guidance

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Grants and Scholarships

Want to join us in September 2016? Undergraduate students can receive up to £4,000* in non repayable financial support.

*(criteria will apply)

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.

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.

Teaching breakdown

34 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
53 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
13 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

9 Written exams DarkOrange
84 Coursework FireBrick
7 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories

Recent graduate and Social Worker Taiwona Kajanda recommends the BSc (Hons) Social Work programme at Birmingham City University and highlights the benefits of this degree course.


These independent reviews show what our students really think:

"The lecturers are excellent, really approachable and knowledgeable. They really focus on current issues and practices and facilitate discussion and debate which helps to locate the academic subject within a realistic framework"

Read all Which? Uni reviews

Erasmus scheme

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further study

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.

Student stories Shanta Mangat

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.

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.


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.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

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  >>


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 and allows 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 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.

Albert Moylan

Senior Lecturer/Programme Director - BSc (Hons) Social Work

Born in the Republic of Ireland, Albert obtained a degree in Commerce and initially started out on a career in business. He discovered that his interest in people, social problems, inequality, deprivation and disadvantage far outweighed his interest in commerce.

After moving to the UK in 1986 and settling in Birmingham, Albert qualified as a social worker and practiced generically within Birmingham City Council with all adult client groups. He qualified as a Social Work Practice Teacher in 2005, and started to work closely with a number of local universities. After a period as a practice learning coordinator and off-site practice educator with Birmingham City Council Learning and Development, he was appointed as a senior lecturer with Birmingham City University in 2007. In addition to teaching, Albert took on the role of Subject Quality Coordinator, continued to study teaching and learning in higher education and began his current role of Programme Director in January 2014.

Albert teaches across 9 modules in the BSc (Hons) Social Work Degree and is a member of the Teaching Team for the Social Work Practice Educator Training Programme and AMHP Programme. He is the Module Coordinator for Theories and Values in Year 1 of the Social Work Degree.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

+44 (0)125 350 2917

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389


Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295