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Course overview

Social workers play a vital role in protecting vulnerable people in society. Our BA Social Work is regulated by Social Work England, and includes all the essential professional elements required to qualify as a social worker. It combines academic modules that will develop core knowledge, values and skills, with practice-based learning in a variety of settings. 

As a social worker you could be working with children, older people, carers and people with disabilities in a role that is challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

Why choose this course?

  • Member of the D2N2 Teaching Partnership which ensures the highest standards of social work education and practice
  • Regulated by Social Work England, ensuring you develop the skills required to become a qualified social worker
  • Teaching often recognised by awards such as the University Chancellor's Award for teaching quality

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer ABB excluding general studies and critical thinking
Required subjects

GCSE English and maths, 4 (C) or above.

We unfortunately do not accept Functional Skills or Adult Literacy and Numeracy certificates as equivalent to GCSE.

IB score 32

Mature students

At the University of Nottingham we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on our mature students webpage.

Alternative qualifications

We encourage applications from all sections of the community including applicants who may be returning to work or changing career. Mature applicants, including those on Access courses and with alternative qualifications are encouraged to apply.

Access courses: Access to HE Diploma, preferably in social work or social sciences, with 45 credits at level 3, at least 30 of which must be at Merit or Distinction plus at least 6 level 3 credits in study skills

BTEC National Diplomas: Grades DDD, and the Diploma will need to be in a subject area of direct relevance to social work (for example, the BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care)

Notes for applicants

The minimum age for entry is 18 years old. Applications must be made through UCAS. No applicant will be offered a place without an interview. Applicants who meet our initial entry criteria will be invited to an Assessment Day. This involves a short written test, assessed group discussion and interview with a social work lecturer, practising social worker and a service user. Assessment Days normally take place between December and April.

Although there is no requirement for prior experience of social work, applicants who have some relevant voluntary or paid experience in a helping role, or can demonstrate that they have personal insights or understandings to reflect upon are likely to produce a better personal statement and have more to draw upon during the interview.

If invited for interview, applicants are required to make a signed declaration regarding any health condition or criminal record and then complete a Disclosure and Barring Service check once registered on the course. Although a criminal record or a health condition is not necessarily a bar to acceptance, failure to disclose relevant information may subsequently result in the offer of a place or registration, being withdrawn.

From your application and interview, we look for:

  • evidence of motivation to become a social worker, shown by having a clear rationale for wanting to join the profession, and preferably some experience in a helping role
  • some understanding of the roles and responsibilities of social workers
  • some degree of self-awareness and empathy for others
  • the capacity to succeed academically

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Examinations
  • Presentation
  • Reflective portfolios

Contact time and study hours

A typical week for will comprise around 13 hours of teaching, split between lectures and seminars. In addition, you are expected to undertake 27 hours a week of self-directed study. When on placement in years two and three, your hours will equate to full-time work: approximately 37 hours per week over five days.

Placements

Designed to help you develop the skills required to register as a qualified social worker and regulated by Social Work England, this course includes supervised placements in years two and three. You will be supported throughout the process with resources and supervision from our team here at Nottingham.

Through practice based learning - in a variety of settings and with a range of service users - you will be introduced to a variety of approaches to helping people. You will spend a total of 170 days in practice during your degree. Each period of practice learning will be assessed against the requirements of social work qualification training.

We have excellent links with statutory and voluntary agencies in the region, which provide practice learning opportunities for our students. We have an outstanding record of providing high-quality placements and recognise that this is a vital part of your learning. Students and practice assessors are well supported throughout the practice learning.

All placements are undertaken on a full-time basis and you are expected to work the same hours as other members of staff in that setting.

When allocating practice learning placements, care is taken to match individual learning needs and personal requirements to the opportunities offered within a particular organisation. Placements are normally within the geographical boundaries of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Modules

A total of 360 academic credits are taken over three years, divided into 120 credits per year. This is the equivalent of 40 hours of University-based study per week, or 40 hours per week of practice-based learning.

You will spend the first year based at the University, where you will explore social work's key functions and develop skills for social work practice. You will also study core aspects of sociology and social policy which underpin the profession's knowledge base.

Core modules

Communication Skills for Practice

The module introduces you to a range of theories, skills and evidence-based practice in relation to communication with service-users and carers. You will study theories of communication and perception. You will be assisted through group work, experiential learning exercises and self-reflection to develop basic skills for interviewing and assessment. These will be augmented by learning around theories and skills concerning work in group contexts and in situations of conflict where social workers are required to exercise professional authority.

Throughout the module your attention will be drawn to the values and ethics which underpin professional practice and the broad organisation, legal and policy context in which it takes place. You will be introduced to work with a diversity of service-user groups and required to consider the implications of this diversity for your mode of communication.

You will also be encouraged to develop a critical awareness of the various theoretical perspectives presented in the module alongside an ability to apply this knowledge to social work practice.

Introducing Social Policy

Focusing on the main concepts and approaches to social policy, this module assumes little or no background knowledge. It looks at the means by which something is framed as a social problem, with particular reference to poverty and issues of exclusion.

You will be introduced to the main areas of social policy, mainly in the UK, and explore how different social groups experience social policies, the interaction of public, private, voluntary and informal sectors in welfare provision, and ways in which it is financed.

Introduction to Social Work

This module will introduce you to the core knowledge, skills, ethics and values underpinning social work practice. You will be encouraged to develop a sense of what it means to be a reflective practitioner. You will be taught a range of approaches to social work practice, what it means to be 'professional' and the impact of the 'use of self'. You will explore the service user/carer perspective and underpinning anti-oppressive principles for working with inequality and diversity.

You will be given the opportunity to practice generic key skills and your understanding of the social work role through innovative teaching methods including role play and observations. You will also be given the opportunity to spend time shadowing and observing a social care practitioner in their work. This module incorporates three skills days.

Investigating Social Worlds

This module introduces you to the nature of social research through exploration of the fundamental philosophical, methodological and ethical debates on 'how to think of social research' and 'how to do social research'.

The module begins with discussions of the primary features, functions and characteristics of social research, the distinctions between social research and other modes of investigating and producing knowledge about the social world and the steps typically involved in conducting social research.

Next, attention is focused on social research paradigms and how the different ontological, epistemological and methodological specificities map onto research questions, methods and designs. Attention will then be placed on some of the principal methods of data collection in the social sciences such as surveys, social experiments, interviews, visual methods, group discussions and observation.

The module concludes by examining issues of ethics, status, power and reflexivity in social research. 

Understanding Contemporary Society

The first part of the module introduces you to some of the contemporary and historical debates in social sciences in the 21st century.

The social sciences are centrally concerned with the investigation of a changing world and the recent arrival of the internet, globalisation, migration and other features will be investigated. However social science is a discipline with a long historical tradition. Here it is key that you have a working knowledge of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Du Bois to understand the world of the 19th and early 20th century. The module explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these ideas.

The second part of the course mostly relies upon the social science thinking of the 20th and 21st century. Questions such as the impact of the arrival of the consumer society, the importance of difference and diversity, the role of utopia, the importance of art and social movements, the development of the network and mediated society, issues related to gender identity and sexuality, and our shared ideas about the urban setting and the future are all covered in this part of the course.

Overall, you will be introduced to a range of different perspectives in helping you understand a changing world.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

You will be based at the University during the first semester, and study central aspects of social work's knowledge base, including the law, social work theories and human development.

You will go out on placement for 80 days during the second semester.

Core modules

From Theory to Practice

The module provides an introduction to social work theories and models, and to the methods through which they are applied. The module seeks to develop the theoretical learning that is needed in order to practice reflectively and effectively by promoting understanding of the principles and concepts which constitute various approaches.

The module will include a consideration of some of the main theories underpinning social work, including person-centred approaches, systems theory, cognitive-behavioural theory, etc; some of the models that can be applied to social work, including task-centred work, assessment, etc and some of the methods of intervention that social workers are required to practice, including interviewing skills and solution-focused approaches. This module also requires you to demonstrate your readiness for practice.

Human Growth and Development Across the Life Course

The module provides you with an introduction to a range of theories and evidence about human growth and development. You will be enabled to understand the ways in which human growth and development is affected by a range of factors across the life course and how these factors may impact on the development of resilience and well-being. You are encouraged to develop a critical awareness of the various theoretical perspectives alongside an ability to apply this knowledge to social work practice.

The module follows a life course perspective, tracking human growth and development from the cradle to the grave and draws on theoretical material from a range of different disciplines.

Law for Social Work

This module prepares you with an introduction to relevant legislation, policies and guidance for social work practice with a variety of service users. The programme recognises the centrality of the law and its interaction with policy and research in promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and adults, and the necessity for practitioners to be confident when representing agencies and working with service users in legislative contexts.

To enable a better understanding and application of law to practice, the module includes a general consideration of the English legal system and considers areas around court structure, civil vs. criminal procedures; differing burdens of proof; duties vs. powers; delegated legislation and so on. It focuses on specific legislative frameworks for working with children, including youth justice, older people and people with mental health problems.

Social Work Research

This module considers the ways in which social workers (should) use research in practice and explores the concept of research-mindedness in social work.

Social workers need research to practise effectively; to understand service users' lives, make informed decisions and to change/develop organisations. Putting empirical evidence into practice will be explored using an applied approach and concrete examples from peer-reviewed papers.

Plus:

Practice Learning 1 - 80-day placement

This module comprises 80 days of assessed practice learning. It will focus on your ability to satisfy the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework at the interim stage of judgement.

The placement will be assessed on a pass/fail basis and must be passed in order to progress on the programme. The written assignment must be passed in order to progress on the programme; students who fail the written assignment may be required to resubmit without having to complete a further placement.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

You will again be based at the University during the first semester, and will have the opportunity to focus on studying key issues within social work with adults or children and families, depending on your preferred area of practice. You will also study central themes for all social workers, such as safeguarding.

You will go out on placement for 90 days during the second semester.

Core modules

Critical Safeguarding Practice

This module will introduce you to key theoretical, legal and practice aspects of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. It will require you to engage in learning from previous situations in which social work intervention has failed to protect children or vulnerable adults from abuse.

Social Understandings of Mental Distress

Social work practice involves interactions with people of all ages experiencing mental distress. This module will challenge the dominant medical/illness model of mental health which is prevalent in UK service provision. It will consider social approaches to understanding causation, manifestations and support for mental distress.

The module will also address the challenges of working as a social worker in multi-disciplinary services which are dominated by medical model thinking. The module will incorporate the perspectives of service users and carers on their lived experience of mental distress. It will consider how we can promote good mental wellbeing for ourselves and others in the face of stress and adversity.

Social Work with Adults

This module acts as the bridge between academic learning and professional qualifying practice. It provides you with an insight into topical issues for practice through a series of workshops led by expert practitioners and/or academic staff.

Alongside these issues based teaching sessions will be run that enable and expect you to make the links between the learning and your own professional development.

Social Work with Children and Families

This module acts as the bridge between academic learning and professional qualifying practice. It provides you with an insight into topical issues for practice through a series of workshops led by expert practitioners and/or academic staff.

Alongside these issues based teaching sessions will be run that enable and expect you to make the links between the learning and your own professional development.

Plus:

Practice Learning 2 - 90-day placement

This module comprises 90 days of practice learning. It will focus on your ability to satisfy the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework at the final stage of your qualification.

To pass this module both the 90 day placement and the practice analysis assignment must be passed. If the 90 day placement is not passed the entire 90 day placement has to be repeated and the assignment has to be submitted as a first sit. If the assignment is failed this can be resubmitted without the placement being repeated.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

£19,000*
Per year
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.

The school covers the cost of a DBS check. The cost of travelling to social worker shadowing and to placements will be dependent on location of placement and proximity to term-time address.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Social Work bursaries

During years two and three, you may be eligible to apply for one of a limited number of social work bursaries. The NHS Business Services Authority administers this bursary scheme, which is subject to review.

The social work bursary is money over and above the financial support available to other undergraduate students and is intended to help with the costs of travel to and from placements and contribute towards tuition fees. Students who do not receive a full social work bursary, but who still meet residency criteria, may be eligible for a travel allowance to help with costs of travel to and from placement.

Eligibility for a social work bursary or travel allowance depends upon being 'ordinarily resident in England'; social work education in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is funded separately and students from these parts of the UK will not be eligible for this funding. For those who are eligible, the social work bursary is non-income-related, which means that earnings, savings and other sources of income such as local authority funding are not taken into consideration.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.

Careers

Our graduates are valued by employers for their ability to:

  • develop an argument and justify it with evidence
  • write coherently and succinctly with a clear structure
  • complete work on time and to the specification required
  • think critically and challenge accepted ideas
  • select, collect and analyse relevant materials in order to carry out independent research
  • present their work verbally and in writing to a group
  • work as a team to achieve goals

Graduate destinations

While most of our graduates work as social workers in local authority childrens' or adults' services, some take up positions in the independent sector. Our graduates have gone on to work in organisations including Derby City Council, Framework Housing Association, and Nottinghamshire County Council.

Average starting salary and career progression

Newly qualified social workers could expect to earn £25,000 and this could rise up to £40,000 as you take on additional tasks, gain responsibilities and experience.*

* British Association of Social Workers.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Social Work England

This course is regulated by Social Work England.

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" There is a holistic coverage of all aspects of social work across the course. Teaching includes a range of modules and skill-days that feature practical and theory-based learning. The course is the perfect place to develop as a socially conscious person as well as a social work professional. "
Lewis Elgie

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Disclaimer

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.