BSc Social Work
UCAS code: L500
Duration: 4 years
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:
- 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:
The University started providing training for social workers in 1918 and today our social work department is ranked as 1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2024).
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 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.
The BSc (Hons) Social Work is accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
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 optional courses of your choice.
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
In this year, you will study only social work courses and will work closely with other students on the programme.
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
Practice placements in Years 3 and 4 are full time and are organised by the University. Placements are generally within agencies in:
- the Lothians
- Scottish Borders
Placements are available in a wide variety of statutory and non-statutory settings, including:
- children and family teams
- residential homes
- women’s aid agencies
- 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:
- group activities
How will I be assessed?
In Year 1 and Year 2, you will be assessed by a combination of:
- reflective accounts
- other written assessments
In your honours years, you will be assessed by a combination of:
- 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
Career pathways exist from 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: AABB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAA - ABB.
- IB: 36 points with 665 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.
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.
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.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
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.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of 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.
SQA, GCSE and IB
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.
- 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 62 with at least 54 in each component.
(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove 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.
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.
All successful applicants must join Disclosure Scotland's Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, which will currently cost you £18-£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.