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Social Work BA

Start date
3 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours

For 2024-2025:
£9,250 (UK students) 
£22,080 (International Students) 

More detail on Fees and Funding.

Find out about the Social Work bursary

The Social Work BA degree will provide you with a practice-focused learning experience. You will be taught by academics who are experts in their fields, and will gain first-hand experience from service users, carers and practitioners. Once you graduate, you will be prepared to start an incredibly rewarding career.

Build your career and lead social change

In these recent challenging times, social workers have had a vital role to play. They engage with vulnerable individuals, families and communities on a daily basis to promote human rights, help improve people’s life outcomes and make a meaningful difference.

Our course will prepare you for the profession through research-informed teaching, value-based learning and practice placements. The modules of the course incorporate the key skills, expertise and values for contemporary social work practice, complimented by two placements providing the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice. Located within Muirhead Tower on the university campus, you will benefit from modern, hi-tech teaching facilities.

Graduating with a social work degree offers a variety of opportunities for practising social work and other humanitarian work in the UK and overseas. Our degrees are recognised globally in countries such as Australia, Canada and Hong Kong amongst others, where social workers are also in demand.

Please note that you will be required to complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and Declaration of Suitability for Social Work form, before registration onto the programme.

Funding opportunities

When you study at the University of Birmingham, there are a number of different scholarships available for both UK and International students to support you with your undergraduate studies.

Find out more

Why study BA Social Work at Birmingham?

  • The Department of Social Work and Social Care produces original and relevant research of social issues in both children’s and adults social work. Alongside generating knowledge and educating future and current practitioners, the department has direct engagement with providers, commissioners and policy makers regarding their work to design and deliver new models of support.
  • The University of Birmingham is embedded within a diverse, multicultural and thriving city and region, with strong civic connections, providing a range of opportunities for our students to gain hands-on experience.
  • Our course places lived experience at the forefront of our teaching, research and impact and we collaborate with a wide range of service users, carers and practitioners to provide students with a broad range of experiences.
  • We are a multi-disciplinary university, with a clear focus on collaborations which includes learning with students from other health and care related areas.

'Seeing lives turned around is something that I'm quite proud of.’

Omar Mohamed, BA Social Work, July 2022


First year modules

In the first year you will study five modules introducing you to the social and organisational content of social work. This introduction to social work will provide you with the opportunity to develop your skills to prepare you for working with service users and carers

Compulsory modules

  • Introduction to Learning and Professional Development
  • Effective Communication and Relationship Building Skills
  • Social, Political and Organisational Context for Social Work
  • Law for Social Work Practice
  • Reflective Assessment and Intervention
  • Preparing for Professional Social Work Practice

The social work regulatory body, Social Work England, requires that before students go out into their practice placements, they have the basic skills needed to work with a variety of people and to communicate with service users with understanding and respect. As part of the assessment of your ‘readiness for practice learning’, you will carry out an assessed role play interview with a service user or carer and also spend time in a local social care organisation.

Students’ readiness for practice will be assessed through observed simulations. These simulations do not carry academic credits but a pass mark is required to proceed to year 2.  

Second year modules

You will complete 70 days professional practice learning, in addition to five academic modules designed to help you develop and apply the knowledge, values and skills required in social work practice. 

Compulsory modules

The University of Birmingham has joined one of the government's Teaching Partnerships. This is the West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership and involves the University of Birmingham working collaboratively with 11 Local Authorities. The overall aim of the Partnership is to enhance practice leadership across the region via a 'University at Work' model.

The Teaching Partnership will strengthen the existing relationships between service users, carers, practitioners and academics at the University of Birmingham. The relationship between the University and these 11 Local Authorities will be enhanced in many ways including in terms of placement opportunities.

We will continue to work in collaboration to shape evidence based curriculum that aims to raise the standards of social work education and ensure that it is fit for purpose for local employers.

At present the majority of our Practice Learning Placements are provided by Birmingham City Council.  We also have some placements in a range of voluntary and private sector organisations. We also have a few placements with some neighbouring local authorities. However at present we cannot guarantee any placements outside of Birmingham itself and so students who live outside of Birmingham will be required to travel. 

The placements on offer are challenging and also very rewarding. Some of the areas of social work covered on placement are:

  • Family support and prevention
  • Domestic violence/Women’s Aid
  • Refugee and asylum
  • Special educational needs
  • Fostering
  • Child protection
  • Disabilities
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental Health
  • Older adults

You will need to be aware that placements in particular areas of interest are not guaranteed. However all placements are quality assured, meet required Social Work England standards and provide a wide range of learning which is transferable to any setting.

Third year modules

In your final year you will complete a further 100-day professional practice placement and the following modules: 

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees 2024 - 2025

Learn more about fees and funding.

UK students

Full-time: £9,250

International students

Undergraduate Band 1 (Classroom): £22,080


At the University of Birmingham, we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that hard work as well as academic excellence are rewarded.

We offer a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards.

When you apply for this course, it is important that you also take into account living costs and should ensure that you will have sufficient funds to finance the full duration of your studies. Our Social Work programmes include a significant amount of time spent on placements in a variety of settings, and so when budgeting to study you should also allow for travel to and from placements, as well as textbooks, printing, photocopying and stationery that you may need.

Prior to beginning the course, offer holders will need to apply for an Enhanced DBS Check, the cost of which must be paid by the applicant.

NHS Bursaries

The Social Work Bursary is available to home students, subject to eligibility and capping. More information can be found on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

How To Apply

All applications to our BA Social Work programmes are completed through UCAS. The University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32. The UCAS code for the BA Social Work is L501 

Further details on how to apply


Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C/4 or above is required (or certificated equivalent level two numeracy and literacy qualification)
General Studies:
Not accepted

minimum of 30 days related practice-based experience is required. This can be in a variety of fields and does not have to be in a social work setting. Personal experience may count towards your practice-based experience but it is important that you are able to evidence some practice-based experience alongside this. This must show a sustained commitment, evidenced by a practice-based reference (as appropriate). If you do not fulfil these requirements or want further advice, please contact us directly.

We will also consider one of the following:

  • Pathways to Birmingham plus the equivalent of two grades below standard offer, e.g. BBC instead of ABB.
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall
  • An Access Diploma in a related area (social science-based) with a minimum of 60 credits, with 45 at Level 3 of which at least 30 are to be achieved with Distinction and 15 to be achieved with Merit
  • BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma = grades DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma = typical offer is A in A Level + DM
  • BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate = typical offer is AB in A levels + D
  • Other new UK qualifications will also be considered – eg, Cambridge Pre-U, Advanced Diplomas, AQA Baccalaureate, Open University 60-credit module

Please note, whilst we recognise the value and relevance of Vocational Diploma qualifications (previously known as NVQs) and professional qualifications, we are not able to consider them in place of academic qualifications.

If your qualifications differ from those listed here, please contact the central Admissions team for guidance.

Find out more about the University of Birmingham's Code of Practice on Admissions

  1. Applicants must show, in the appropriate section of the application form, that they meet or intend to meet all of the academic criteria.
  2. Their ability to meet the academic criteria should be confirmed in their academic reference.
  3. In addition to this, applicants must provide details, within their personal statement, of their related personal or social care experience and the influence this has had on their commitment to and understanding of social work. A subsequent practice reference will be required if an offer is made.
  4. Their personal statement should also provide evidence of their ability to write in a clear, coherent and accessible style.
  5. Shortlisted applicants may be required to read a short academic text and complete a written test on their understanding general issues related to social work.
  6. Applicants completing this test may then be invited to undertake an interview.
  7. Selected applicants will be required to complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and Declaration of Suitability for Social Work form, before registration on the programme.
  8. Where an applicant has disclosed a criminal offence they will be asked to provide further details of this offence in a letter to the department.
  9. A satisfactory social care practice reference will also be required.
  10. All students will be required to sign the Fitness to Practise Code of Conduct on entry. 
  11. Please note that work experience is not considered in lieu of meeting the academic entry requirements. You will be required to meet the practice element in addition to meeting the academic criteria.

All applicants must confirm prior to interview/offer decision making that they have the ability to use basic IT facilities, including word processing, internet browsing and the use of email, and be asked to specify how these skills have been obtained.

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements (IELTs : 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band).

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

Our BA Social Work degree is underpinned by research-informed teaching and practice, and you will be supported by academics who are engaged in ground breaking research. Our Social Work degree will equip you with an understanding of social work values, evidence-informed practice, making professional judgements, and the ability to apply a range of interventions in practice. Our aim is for our students to graduate as confident and competent professionals. Our degree programmes have a strong commitment to human rights, social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion.

We offer a range of teaching methods, including lectures, small group seminars, group work, role play and self-directed learning and online tasks.

Practice Learning

As part of the programme, you will also undertake relevant practice learning in line with Social Work England Guidance during your second and third years.  These will be undertaken in two contrasting settings, including at least one statutory social work setting and will be will be supervised by the University. As part of the West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership we work collaboratively with a range of other Universities and social work organisations in the region.  This collaboration allows us to offer a large variety of practice learning opportunities. For more information please see the Social Work England Guidance.


We use a range of assessment methods throughout the programme, including written essays, examinations, portfolios, presentations and live practice scenarios. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular module. 


Each student will be assigned an academic and personal tutor, who will meet with you for a face to face tutorial a minimum of three times per academic year. As well as being supported by your academic tutor, we offer an Academic Skills Service in our Main Library, which undergraduates can also access for support around their academic writing.  A Wellbeing Officer is also available to provide support around any difficult personal circumstances you may experiencing at any given time during your studies.  As a Department, we pride ourselves on the high level and quality of support we offer our students, across the board.

Service user and carer involvement

Involving service users and carers in all aspects of admissions and the development and delivery of our social work qualifying programmes is a priority for us. We believe it offers students the opportunity to have a thorough grounding in service users’ and carers’ experiences and expectations from the very start of their social work training and careers.

Contact Hours

In your first year of BA Social Work, you will have approximately 15 hours of direct contact time per week, made up of lectures, seminars and small group workshops and exercises. In addition, you will be involved in guided self-directed learning and online tasks.

Your 2nd and 3rd years of the programme will involve full-time practice learning as detailed above. You will receive education, supervision and support from a Practice Educator from the placement and a Practice Tutor from the University throughout the placement.

The remaining parts of the 2nd year will involve an average of 10-12 hours of direct contact and in your 3rd year you will have an average of 12-15 hours made up of lectures, seminars and small group workshops and exercises. 

In all years of the programme, you will receive at least one individual tutorial with your academic tutor per term.



There is a clear progression from the social work programme to professional practice in a range of settings such as statutory social work, voluntary organisations and the private sector. Studying with us will help you build a competitive advantage by gaining a qualification from a nationally and internationally acclaimed university, opening up employment opportunities both in the UK and overseas.

Upon graduation, our students take up positions such as:

  • Social Worker (children and families, adults, mental health)
  • Advanced Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP)
  • Education Welfare Officer
  • Youth Offending Team
  • Community Development Worker
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer
  • Advocate
  • Social Researcher
  • Social Work and Social Care Leadership