Social Work with Year Abroad BA

Social work is a career where you can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Working in partnership with service users, carers and other professionals, social workers support individuals and families. Social Workers apply relevant theories, the law, knowledge and evidence to promote independence and to prevent harm, neglect and abuse.

This programme is underpinned by research-informed teaching and practice. Studying at Birmingham will enable you to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become a professional social worker. You will be equipped with an understanding of social work values, the law, evidence-informed practice, making professional judgements, and the ability to apply a range of interventions in practice. Our aim is for our Social Work students to graduate as confident and competent professionals.

The programme offers a dynamic learning environment, with service users, carers and practitioners working alongside academics within the department and during 170 days of supervised practice.

  • Upon completion of the course, students are eligible to apply to become a registered Social Worker through the HCPC
  • 85% of students were in a professional or managerial job six months after completing the course (UNISTATS 2016-17)

Download our course brochure (PDF - 1.65MB)

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Our Social Work degree programme encompasses experiential learning and collaborative education. The programme enables students to develop important skills, knowledge and understanding of key areas of social work; including law, theories, methods and values. There is an emphasis on fundamental professional principles, including a commitment to human rights, social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion. Key areas of practice are explored, including communication, relationship-based practice, and working collaboratively within organisations.

Joanne Lowe





Joanne Lowe

BA Social Work graduate

“I am now Team Manager for two adult social work teams in Birmingham. I manage 30 staff across both teams and we provide assessment and support planning for adults with complex care needs in our constituencies. We work with students from the University of Birmingham and provide quality placements for them and provide a range of shadowing and mentoring opportunities.”

Why study this course

The University of Birmingham has provided social work education since 1908, and we have developed a strong reputation for delivering high-quality teaching and learning which enables students to become critically reflective, research-informed practitioners.

The involvement of service users and carers is an integral aspect of admissions and the development and delivery of programmes. Through this you’ll gain a greater insight into the role social work can play in people’s lives and an understanding of service users’ and carers’ experiences and expectations from the very start of your training.

You will study in one of the most attractive and heritage-rich campuses in the country only a few minutes from the centre of Birmingham.


Year 1

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:

  • Psychology
  • Research for Evidence Based Learning
  • Social Welfare and Social Inequalities
  • Social Work Contexts
  • Social Work Skills, Values and Approaches

The social work regulatory body, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the College of Social Work require 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.

Year 2

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. These include:

  • Enhancing Skills for Social Work Practice
  • Law for Professional Practice
  • Placement and Case Analysis
  • Research for Evidence Informed Practice
  • Social Identity, Citizenship and Social Work Practice (as part of this module students have the opportunity to take part in  our International Exchange Programme)

We also run an International Exchange Project in second year, where students have the opportunity to go abroad to work with the social work department and social work students from a University in another country.

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 9 Local Authorities: Birmingham as the lead authority, Coventry, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Stoke, Telford, Walsall and Wolverhampton. 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 9 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. It is anticipated however that over time, due to the West Midlands Teaching Partnership, placements may become available across a wider range of local authorities within the Teaching partnership.

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

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

Year 3

Your third year will be spent abroad at a university in the EU or elsewhere in the world. After completing your year abroad, you will return for your fourth and final year to the same BA degree programme.
There are a wide range of countries and universities from which you can choose.

As well as a range of European universities, you may also choose from a range of current institutional partners worldwide. These include countries in which a variety of languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English. In recent years, students in the department have taken their year abroad in Australia, Canada, Denmark and the United States, among others.

Final year

In your final year you will complete a further 100-day professional practice placement. As part of this you will also complete a risk analysis.

Year 3 modules include:

  • Advanced Practice: Individuals, Families and Communities
  • Dissertation A
  • Placement and Case Analysis 2
  • Dissertation B

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. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. 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 and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2019-20
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2019-20
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £17,040


At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers 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.

NHS Bursaries

For the latest information regarding the NHSBSA bursary, please go to .

You can download a copy of the ‘Reforming social work bursary information pack’ and a copy of the ‘Reforming the Social Work Bursary consultation outcome’ from the Department of Health website.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
Critical Thinking is accepted.
General Studies:
not accepted

We will also consider one of the following:

  • A2B (Access to Birmingham) plus the equivalent of two grades below standard offer, e.g. BBC instead of ABB. Access to Birmingham (A2B) Scheme leaflet - further information for students (PDF).
  • 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 Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are accepted but a related BTEC subject area is required. Grades: BTEC Extended Diploma DDM; typical offers when offered in combination with A Levels: A in A Level + DM in BTEC Diploma or B in A Level + DD in BTEC Diploma; or AB in A Level + M in BTEC Subsidiary Diploma or BB in A Level + D in BTEC Subsidiary Diploma
  • 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.


  • GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or above (or certificated equivalent)


A minimum of 3 months or 60 days related practice-based experience. 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 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

Additional information:

  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 a 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 (PDF) 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.
  12. Although modules on  our social work programmes are compulsory, the university APL policy allows us to give credit for learning that has been assessed and certificated by another HEI. Any applicants wishing to apply for entry to years 2 or 3 of the BA programme, or year 2 of the MA programme can note this on their UCAS form. Any potential applicants are invited to contact the admissions tutor to discuss their situation in further detail, as each is considered on a case by case basis.

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.

A Disabled Person's Guide to Becoming a Health Professional

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) have produced a document called 'A Disabled Person's Guide to Becoming a Health Professional' for people with a disability or long-term health condition. You can obtain a copy of this on the HCPC website

Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) documents

Applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the:

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.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at  
Learn more about applying 


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Learning settings

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Personal tutors

You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Val Thompson

Val Thompson

Social Work graduate

“I had heard a lot about Birmingham, how they promoted social work and their dedication to social workers with regards to understanding both practice and theory. Most of all they had a lot of time for individual students. Having met some of the tutors before applying, they were really warm and welcoming and it was clear to me that they were dedicated to social work practice.”


We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

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.

Discover more about service user and carer involvement in social work education

Practice placements

We offer students a wide range of practice opportunities within statutory, voluntary and independent social care settings. The learning gained from these placements supports and builds on the learning taking place at the University. Whilst on placement all students will have a practice tutor and a practice educator, they might also have a day-to-day supervisor called a practice supervisor.

Students all have two placements; the first is for 70 days and the final is for 100 days. During both placements the practice educators will be qualified registered social workers; for the first placement the practice supervisors may come from a variety of professional backgrounds related to social care such as nursing, teaching, youth work etc. For the final placement students will all have a practice educator who will be a qualified, experienced and registered social worker with a stage 2 practice educator qualification. They might also have a practice supervisor who will be a qualified registered social worker, working towards a stage 1 practice educator qualification. The practice educator provides support and guidance to the student, and will have overall responsibility for both the ongoing and final assessment of their ability throughout the placement.

Contact hours

In your first year of BA Social Work, you will have an average of 12 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 a full-time practice placement (70 days in the 2nd year and 100 days in the 3rd year). You will receive education, supervision and support from a practice educator and a practice tutor throughout the placement.

The remaining parts of the 2nd and 3rd years will involve an average of 12 hours of direct contact made up of lectures, seminars and small group workshops and exercises. In the 3rd year this includes on average 10 hours of small group workshops to support you with your dissertation.

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

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

Assessment is through assignments, presentations and portfolios with some exams and live practice scenarios. 

During your first year you will undergo a formal ‘transition’ review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Career opportunities

On successful completion of the BA in Social Work, students are equipped to work in a wide range of areas. We make sure students have experience of working with two different service user groups in two different social care settings whilst on placement. The Advanced Practice, Specialist Teaching and Dissertation modules in the final year of the course allow you to build on both specialist and generic knowledge and skills, and apply for a wide range of jobs in the voluntary, private and statutory sectors.

Indeed, 85% of Social Work graduates from Birmingham are in professional or managerial careers six months after graduating and enjoy average starting salaries of £26,000 (UNISTATS, 2016-17).

This programme offers professional training, which on successful completion, will give you eligibility to apply to register with the HCPC as a professional Social Worker.

The HCPC will require you to complete an application for professional registration form upon graduating and it is this professional body who will determine your professional status. As such, the offer of a place on the programme is not a guarantee that you will be able to register with the HCPC.

Careers network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoringglobal internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline, all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'investing in your future'.

Professional accreditation

This programme offers professional training, which on successful completion will give you eligibility to apply to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a professional Social Worker.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Shape your academic experience

Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future. Find out more on the Guild of Students website


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.