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Social work courses

Do you want to have a positive impact on the lives of children, families or people with a disability or mental health issues? A social work degree will develop your knowledge and skills to work in areas such as child protection, family support and with the homeless. It can lead to a professional role as a social worker in child or adult services for a council, or be applied more broadly to working for the charitable, voluntary or private sectors.

Studying social work at university

Example course modules

  • Social work ethics and values
  • Power, duties and accountabilities
  • Social work in society
  • Social policy: politics of the welfare state
  • Law and the legal context of social work
  • Working with adults
  • Social work research
  • Social work as a vehicle for cultural transformation
  • Child and family social work
  • Substance use and misuse

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 88%
    Male : 12%
  • Mature : 68%
    School leaver : 32%
  • Full-time : 80%
    Part-time : 20%

What students say about social work

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • No Specific Requirements

Useful to have

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • BTEC health and social care

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
No prizes for guessing what by far the most common job for graduates in social work is! There's a shortage of social workers in some parts of the UK, and graduates can specialise in specific fields such as mental health or children's social work. If you decide social work is not for you, then social work graduates also often go into management, education, youth and community work and even nursing. Starting salaries for this degree can sometimes reflect the high proportion of graduates who choose a social work career, as not all job options for social work graduates pay as well as other job sectors – but social work graduates still get paid, on average, more than graduates overall.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Childcare and related personal services

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Social worker
  • Social services manager
  • Guidance officer

Other real-life job examples

  • Community worker
  • Probation officer
  • Adoption officer

What employers like about this subject

A degree in social work is, unsurprisingly, usually taken as part of training for a career in social work. Subject-related skills you might expect to gain include training in building relationships with people from all backgrounds and an understanding of the, often complicated, ethical issues that come with working with the different agencies and people involved in modern social work. A social work degree also includes 200 days of assessed practice. Graduates tend to be employed by local government and social work providers, but some also get jobs with schools, hospitals, housing associations, residential care organisations, advisory groups and universities, among other industries.