Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BSc Social Work

UCAS code: L500

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Social and Political Science

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences


Introducing BSc Social Work

Social workers support people in difficult circumstances to improve their wellbeing. They provide protection to people who may be vulnerable, and challenge social injustice.

Social workers work within legal systems, and with communities and related services including:

  • health
  • education
  • housing
  • the police

Studying social work will enable you to think critically about the work that social workers do. You will develop:

  • skills in assessment and communication
  • a strong sense of professional ethics
  • an understanding of the importance of social justice

Our programme will provide you with an internationally-recognised professional qualification, which will enable you to register as a professional social worker.

Who is this programme for?

Social work is a profession suited to people who:

  • are creative
  • are practical
  • are resourceful
  • enjoy working with other 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.

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.

All our students must register with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Scottish Social Services Council (SSC)

Why Edinburgh?

The University started providing training for social workers in 1918 and today we are well-recognised as a leading institution in social work training.

We are a diverse and international community of staff and students. We work with local and international partners on all of our teaching programmes to ensure that our teaching reflects our commitment to social work values, ethics and social justice.

Our research reflects the wide-ranging experience of our staff and postgraduate researchers and, with the help of our partners, our findings and knowledge exchange makes a difference across the world.

Our graduates work throughout the world to make a real difference in the communities where they live.

We seek to meet the demands of this changing profession and contribute to an understanding of, and improvements in, public policy and professional practice.

We have previously played a major role in advising on the future shape of social work services in Scotland. We contributed to reports that led to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, which remains a core legislative basis for Scottish social work today.

Studying Social Work in Scotland resource site

A new inter-university resource site has been produced as a collaboration between the universities in Scotland which deliver programmes leading to a qualification as a social worker.

The site contains lots of information for students who do not currently live in Scotland and will be coming to study social work. Please visit the new site for information on:

(Revised 06 March 2024 to add in the 'Studying Social Work in Scotland resource site' section) 


The BSc (Hons) Social Work is accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)

The BSc in Social Work comprises two years of foundation studies in the social sciences followed by two years of professional education and training.

Students draw upon their voluntary or paid employment in social work and social care, or other related fields, to demonstrate their professional people skills.

Throughout the programme, guest lecturers from our partner agencies contribute expertise from the perspectives of practitioners and service managers and these contributions are joined by those of people who have used social work services.

Year 1

You will be introduced to the day-to-day practice of social work in our first year, first semester course, Social Work: Making A Difference. You will study key research milestones in the development of social work. You will also study two foundational courses in social policy, and optional courses of your choice.

Year 2

You will take the following courses:

  • Human Rights and Social Justice: Social Work and the Law
  • Working and Relating: Developing Your People Skills

As in Year 1, you will also take optional courses of your choice.

You will be required to complete either paid or voluntary relevant work experience as part of the Working and Relating: Developing Your People Skills course.

This experience will also inform discussions regarding your progression into honours years. This progression is based on:

  • academic achievement
  • professional registration
  • confirmation of your continued interest in social work

Year 3

In this year, you will study only social work courses and will work closely with other students on the programme.

Courses include:

  • Social Work in Communities
  • Social Work with Individuals and Families
  • Working with Self and Others: Skills, Theories and Methods
  • Understanding Care and Control
  • Professional Practice in Social Work 1 (this includes a 70-day full-time placement)

Year 4

You will study:

  • Working with Risk, Trust and Complexity
  • Professional Practice in Social Work 2 (including a 100-day full-time placement)

You will also complete an 8,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

The majority of teaching on this programme takes place within the University's Central Area. You will have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of Social and Political Science and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Social and Political Science


Practice placements in Years 3 and 4 are full-time and are organised by the University. Placements are generally within agencies in:

  • Edinburgh
  • the Lothians
  • Scottish Borders
  • Fife

Placements are available in a wide variety of statutory and non-statutory settings, including:

  • children and family teams
  • residential homes
  • women’s aid agencies
  • hospitals
  • local support organisations for people experiencing homelessness, addictions, mental health challenges
  • youth organisations
  • support groups for disabled people and carers

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • group activities

How will I be assessed?

In Year 1 and Year 2 you will be assessed by a combination of:

  • essays
  • reflective accounts
  • presentations
  • other written assessments

In your honours years you will be assessed by a combination of:

  • coursework
  • group work
  • your performance on your practice placements

Social work graduates are eligible to work in statutory or voluntary settings within the following sectors:

  • adult services
  • children and families
  • criminal justice

While many of our graduates stay working in Scotland, your professional qualification will allow you to work elsewhere in the UK and in many countries internationally.

Our graduates work in a range of places, such as:

  • community-based agencies
  • prisons
  • hospitals

Career pathways exist from the early practitioner stage through to senior management, including in major organisations in the third sector, and international aid and humanitarian organisations.

The strong communication and interpersonal skills that you will develop during your programme will prepare you for a range of other careers involving working with people.

Some social work graduates also choose to continue with their studies or enter research.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C and Mathematics or Applications of Mathematics at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4 and Mathematics at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5 and Mathematics at 4.

Additional requirements

Fitness to practise

Please consult the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) website for additional fitness to practise guidelines for this degree:


Students will also need to meet any vaccination requirements for placements.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

Protecting Vulnerable Groups

All successful applicants will be required to join Disclosure Scotland's Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme before starting the programme. In addition, all applicants who don't live in the UK, or who have spent more than a year abroad, will need to provide equivalent verification from the relevant national authority.

Scottish Social Services Council

All students must register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as students of social work.

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Social Work

Additional costs

All successful applicants must join Disclosure Scotland's Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, which will currently cost you between £18 and £59.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

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