Social Work at Birmingham

The University of Birmingham has been providing social work education since 1908, and recently celebrated 100 years of social work education. As the oldest running social work education programme in the country, we are proud of our history and we are committed to continuing our work to raise professional social work standards and promote good practice.

Why Birmingham?

The Institute of Applied Social Studies, within the School of Social Policy, is a leading centre for research in social policy and social work internationally. As its name implies, the Institute spans the divide between academia and practice. The social work teaching is informed by specialist and expert research knowledge as well as insight into, and experience of, professional practice.

The Institute has developed a reputation for delivering high quality teaching and learning which enables students to become critically reflective, research informed practitioners. We now have over 300 HEFCE funded places on our undergraduate and postgraduate qualifying social work programmes as well as over 100 practitioners on our postqualifying courses. The variety of experience and diversity of background within the different student groups helps to create a vibrant academic community where mutual learning and personal development can flourish. 

Beth Chappell, SW student " One of the highlights for me has been how issues of justice and concern for others have been at the heart of the course. Small group and class discussions have been an opportunity to debate and consider current policies and dilemmas and the law content of the course has helped me to understand the current legal context in which social workers practice."


So what makes a good social worker in terms of knowledge, skills and attributes?

Here are three short video clips illustrating how Gary Hickman, our Director of Social Work Education and the Social Work staff group, work very hard to ensure our programmes enable students to develop the attributes of a Social Worker alongside some very valuable transferrable skills for practical application in the workplace.

Gary also delivers sessions to all final year students aimed at developing specific knowledge and skills around applying for social work posts. This specific input, together with the academic teaching and high quality practice learning, means that we develop social work graduates, whom we know employers find very attractive even when competing against social workers with several years post-qualifying experience.


Employability in social work
What makes a social worker? How we develop social workers
Preparation for employment  

Qualifying programmes

We offer two qualifying Social Work degrees; an undergraduate route (3 year, BA Social Work), and postgraduate route (2 year MA Social Work). Successful completion of either of these programmes will allow you to register with HCPC as a qualified Social Worker.

Both programmes fulfil all the requirements of the Government to enable you to qualify as a Social Worker. As part of this, all students will undertake specific learning, and will be assessed in the following key areas:

  • Assessment, planning, intervention and review
  • Communication skills with children, adults and those with particular communication needs
  • Law
  • Partnership working and information-sharing across professional disciplines and agencies

For both programmes there is a requirement for students to undertake supervised and assessed practice learning during the course of the programme.

All applications for these programmes must be made via the UCAS entry form in the autumn. You can also visit the 'information' section of the UCAS website to calculate the tariff points you have from various types of qualifcations and calculate the equivalents of the points required for the social work course using the 'tariff calculator'.

Find out more about student finance at Birmingham University and check information at the Health and Care Professions Council.

Postqualifying programmes 

In 2005 a revised framework for Social Workers postqualifying (PQ) awards in England was launched, the aim being to support social workers in developing their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. Reflecting this aim the revised framework was made up of three levels of award; specialist, higher specialist and advanced.

In addition the revised framework sought to strengthen opportunities to develop specific skills and knowledge relating to career pathways. The programmes available reflect this with courses relating to five different areas of practice, as follows:

Here at Birmingham we offer a range of postqualifying programmes relating to each of the above areas of practice which continue to build on our experience of offering postqualifying social work education.

We hope that the comprehensive range of information provided in these pages will answer any basic queries you may have. However, if you still need further assistance and information then please contact us

Further information

Dawn River
Admissions Tutor

Katie Mellor
Social Work Administrator


NHS Social Work Bursaries

NHSBSA have now confirmed that a limited number of bursaries will still be available to eligible 'home' students starting on the social work programme in the 2013 academic year for the BA Social Work (during second and third years), and the MA Social Work (over both first and second years). These bursaries are not available to students from Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales or those classified as 'overseas'.  Please go to for further information regarding eligibility.