As a social worker you’ll play an extremely valuable part in your local community and ensure that vulnerable (or potentially vulnerable) individuals (children or adults) and/or groups are supported and protected.
In your daily role you’ll be combining elements of psychology, sociology, and law to help members of society that might otherwise struggle.
During your course you’ll develop excellent interpersonal skills, learning how to listen and deal with sometimes difficult situations. You’ll learn also learn about a variety of issues that you may find your service users face – including domestic abuse, substance abuse, and homelessness – and how to support your clients when they are dealing with these issues.
Social work is a graduate profession, meaning that you’ll need an undergraduate degree that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to become a social worker.
Here’s more about studying Social Work and becoming a social worker after graduation.
Most Social Work courses are three years long, four if you’re studying in Scotland, and combine classroom learning with practical experience.
Universities usually require you to complete a minimum number of placement days – for example, the University of Birmingham asks for 70 placement days in your second year and 100 days in your third – to ensure that you understand all aspects of the role before you graduate.
In your first year you’ll cover a wide range of topics and then have the opportunity to study specialist modules in your second and third year. This is your chance to have a more in depth education in the aspects of social work that really interest you.
Some sample modules include:
In your final year you’ll also be asked to produce a research project which is usually a literature review in your chosen area to demonstrate a deep understanding of the literature you have reviewed and its practical application in social work.
Competition is fierce for social work degrees so the better your grades and the quality of your relevant experience, the more chance you will have of gaining a place.
To get a place on a social work degree course you will need:
It’s important to check the individual entry requirements of each university that you’re interested in to make sure you’ll meet their grade requirements.
For example, some universities will accept you regardless of the A Level subjects you’ve taken. Others would prefer you to have taken related subjects such as Sociology, Psychology, or other social science subject.
As Social Work is a vocational degree you’ll be expected to have some practical experience before applying.
This helps demonstrate to the admissions tutor that you’re genuinely interested in the course and have an idea of what’s going to be expected of you both whilst you’re studying and after you graduate.
Your practical experience could be paid work experience in a related field such as a carer or it could be voluntary experience or work experience placement within a care or social work setting.
You can study Social Work at universities around the country. Some of best universities for Social Work are:
Although all Social Work degrees will broadly cover the same topics it’s important to research courses carefully to ensure that you’re being taught modules that you’re interested in and being assessed in a way that suits your learning style.
As social work is a graduate profession you’ll need to complete your undergraduate degree, or postgraduate if your first degree wasn’t in social work, and the degree needs to be approved by the HCPC.
If you want to specialise further or move up the career ladder you’ll probably find that you’ll need further postgraduate qualifications.