Social Work BA

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

For 2023/24:
£9,250 (UK students) 
£21,000 (International Students) 
More fees and funding details.

Find out about the Social Work bursary

The University of Birmingham Social Work BA degree will give you a fascinating and dynamic experience. This is a tailor-made course driven by excellence in teaching and research. In addition to our academics who are experts in their field, we offer first-hand learning from service users, carers and practitioners.

In these recent challenging times, the role of social work has taken centre stage.  A career in social work is incredibly rewarding and plays a vital role within society, working in communities with vulnerable individuals and families to help improve their life outcomes, by protecting them from harm and abuse. 

A social work degree from our university can offer you a variety of opportunities for practising social work overseas. Social workers are in demand in a number of countries and our degrees are recognised in places such as Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. 

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?

  • We are a leading Research Centre for children’s and adults social work.
  • We are embedded within a diverse, multicultural and thriving city and region, with strong civic connections.
  • 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
  • We are part of a multi-disciplinary and multi-professional university, with a clear focus on inter-disciplinary collaborations.
  • Our well-established links with local, regional and national employers support students into a range of rewarding careers.

Throughout the Social Work degree there will be an emphasis on the fundamental professional principles, including a commitment to human rights, social justice, relationship based practice and inclusion such as communication, relationship-based practice. As a student on our BA Social Work degree, you will become part of social work history, by studying in the oldest social work department in the country.  Two professional placements will be completed as a core part of the programme.

How to apply to study the BA in Social Work in 9 easy steps

“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.”

Joanne Lowe, BA Social Work graduate


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

  • Psychology and Human Development for Social Work
  • Research for Evidence Based Learning
  • Social Issues and Social Policy for Social Work
  • Social Contexts for Social Work
  • Social Work Skills, Values and Approaches

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

  • Enhancing Skills for Social Work Practice
  • Placement 1
  • Law for Professional Practice
  • Theory, Methods and Practice
  • Research for Evidence Informed Practice
  • Social Identity, Citizenship and Social Work Practice 

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: 

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

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2023.

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 2023 - 2024

Learn more about fees and funding.

UK students

Full-time: £9,250

International students

Undergraduate Band 1 (Classroom): £21,000


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.

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

You can download a guide to social work bursaries from the Department of Health website.

How To Apply

Learn more about the application process for social work at Birmingham.


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 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 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.

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.



Your Birmingham Social Work degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, 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. The University is ranked number one for being targeted by the top UK employers (High Fliers Research 2021). If you make the most of the wide range of services available you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Career opportunities

Successful completion of our BA Social Work degree will equip you to work in a wide range of areas. We make sure you have experience of working with two different service user groups in two different social care settings whilst on placement. The Advanced Practice and Dissertation modules in the final year of the BA Social Work degree 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, 95% of Social Work graduates from Birmingham are in work or further study 15 months after graduating (2018-2019). Source: Graduate Outcomes survey 

This Social Work degree offers professional training which, on successful completion, will make you eligible to apply to register with Social Work England as a professional Social Worker.

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

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 'connecting you to your future'.

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