About us

The University of Birmingham has been committed to understanding and responding to social issues through its research, education and civic engagement from its founding in 1900.

We were strongly connected with the early days of the Birmingham settlement movement and this provided opportunities for students to engage with deprived communities in the city. We were one of the first Universities in the UK to provide the opportunity for those engaged in ‘social and philanthropic work’ to undertake a formal qualification through the social studies course launched in 1908 and have been providing education for social workers and other professionals ever since. This provides us with a unique foundation upon which to build our current education and research programmes.

Lived Experience of Service Users and Carers

Lived experience of people and their families is at heart of good social work and social care, and this is reflected in our work as an academic department. We have a lively network of over 50 service user and carer contributors who bring personal insights of social challenges and the role of agencies and professions in helping them to address these in practice. This includes caring for others. Our network contributes directly within many of our teaching and learning activities, including the selection of candidates. We value the contribution of those with lived experience within our research and evaluation. This includes shaping research methodologies, interpreting findings, and being co-researchers who gather empirical data. Finally, our network of contributors provides a helpful challenge to our overall work and how we can improve our impact as a department.


The University of Birmingham is committed to being a global institution that educates people from across the world and enables our students to learn from the experiences of those in other countries. The Department of Social Work and Social Care reflects this commitment in its research and teaching. We led the development of the U21 Social Work Community of Practice which brings together social work academics from leading universities to share research insights and educational practices. Through the U21 network and our other international collaborators we regularly host colleagues from other countries to participate in talks and workshops. We are a member of the Tri-City Social Work Exchange programme which for two decades has been providing opportunities for social workers from Birmingham to meet with social workers in Chicago and Hamburg. The department regularly hosts post graduate researchers from across the world who complete their PhD or social work research masters

Social work students at the University of Birmingham can access such events involving such international speakers. They engage with learning from other countries in many modules and will connect with international peers through departmental activities and wider university initiatives such as the European University for Well-being. There also opportunities for global exchange programmes where social work students spend time in other countries. Previously this was limited to BA students but plans are in place to expand international mobility options available at the University to open these out to a wider group of students (including those studying at Masters), for different lengths of time (i.e. including shorter periods), and to provide virtual options for those who want to connect with those in other parts of the world but are not able to physically travel. In the meantime, our students are connecting with peers across the world through virtual events, including those which have been run on World Social Work Day.


Alongside generating knowledge and educating future and current practitioners and others, the department has direct engagement with providers, commissioners and policy makers regarding their work to design and deliver new models of support. An example of such activity is our research and education regarding leadership in social work. Our evaluations explore the impact and implementation of local and national programmes in order to improve the current approach and provide valuable learning for the future. We are core members of regional partnerships including the West Midlands Teaching Partnership and the West Midlands Workforce Alliance for Adult Social Care. We also work with other parts of the University of Birmingham to maximise our impact.