Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
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Subject area: Social Work

Why choose Social Work at the University of Edinburgh?

  • You will undertake full-time practice placements with local agencies and organisations during Years 3 and 4.

  • Our programme is fully accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

  • The qualification you receive is recognised across the UK and internationally, opening up your employment opportunities.


My highlight so far has been meeting the variety of people, not only those studying social work but also those on other degree courses.

Norma Jo Currie second year BSc (Hons) Social Work
Norma Jo Currie second year BSc (Hons) Social Work

Introducing Social Work

The study of social work allows you to develop the knowledge, skills and experience needed to work with vulnerable people who are encountering difficulties in their personal or family lives or whose actions have led to the involvement of statutory services.

Social workers undertake sophisticated assessments in relation to issues of care and control in order to protect the individual and safeguard society. Social workers often work with other services including health, education, housing and the police. They have a strong interest in human relationships and a commitment to social justice, along with well-developed social, empathic and communication skills. The work of a social worker is challenging, demanding and rewarding. A high level of personal resilience is required in order to manage the various challenges of this career.

Social workers represent society's response to the challenges of:

  • families under stress
  • offending
  • long-term illness
  • mental illness
  • other serious problems

Good social work combines an interest in people with a rigorous intellectual attitude and the constant search for better methods of helping, supported by research and development.

It is a profession suited to creative, practical and resourceful individuals who enjoy working with people. You will combine ingenuity and optimism with honesty and realism in the face of the demanding situations which some service users experience. You should have a stable, well-integrated personality and you must be able to see beyond the immediate issues presented by service users, the general public and policy makers. You will also require well-developed social and communication skills and a high degree of empathy.

The University started providing training for social workers in 1918 and we are well-recognised as a leading institution in social work training. Social Work at Edinburgh has been ranked number one in the UK for the second year in a row in the recent ‘Complete University Guide 2020’ league table.

We seek to meet the demands of a changing profession and contribute to understanding of, and improvements in, public policy and professional practice. We have previously played a major role advising on the future shape of social work services in Scotland, and contributed to reports that led to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, which remains a core legislative basis for Scottish social work today.

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