Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2020/2021

BSc Social Work

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: Scottish Social Services Council
Final award: Bachelor of Science (Social Work)
Programme title: BSc Social Work
UCAS code: L500
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Social Work
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Professor Viv. Cree
Date of production/revision: 2012

External summary

Studying Social Work at the University of Edinburgh prepares you for a challenging and rewarding career in the field. You will have a strong interest in human relationships and a commitment to social justice. You will develop the knowledge, skills and experience needed to work with people who are experiencing difficulties in their personal and family lives. Social workers work with other services including health, education, housing and the police. The completion of the Social Work degree means entitlement to the professional qualification of social worker.

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 35% of our research in ‘Social Work and Social Policy & Administration’ was rated 3*, internationally excellent, with a further 30% rated 4*, world-leading, placing the University fourth in the UK in this discipline.

The Times Good University Guide 2010 ranks Social Work at Edinburgh as seventh in the UK.

Educational aims of programme

The BSc Social Work with Honours programme renders successful students eligible for full registration as social workers with the Scottish Social Services Council. Student registration with the Council is a condition of entry and continuance on the programme. Information about pre-entry registration will be provided.

Principal aims of the Programme

  1. To co-create/co-produce a University of Edinburgh Social Work graduate who will be curious, concerned about social justice, research-minded, a critical thinker who is able to exercise practical judgment; someone with good people skills, who understands change, is reflexive and committed to advocacy
  2. To enable students to act in an increasingly complex world and complex work environments where frameworks for understanding and effecting change are contested and uncertain
  3. To provide a curriculum in which principles of learning, teaching and assessment are constructively aligned
  4. To provide a curriculum that builds upon students' professional development needs from the stage of becoming a social work student to the point of entering the world of professional practice.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  • The contexts and domains within which social work is practised
  • The social science knowledge base that informs social work practice
  • Evidence and research as it applies to social work
  • Legislation and policy in relation to social work
  • Concepts of risk, trust and complexity as they apply to social work
  • The ethical base underpinning social work practice
  • Research and evaluation theories, methods and approaches
  • Competence in assessed social work practice.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • The application of analytical, conceptual, critical and empirical methods to the study of professional practice in social work
  • Using, and later undertaking own, research into aspects of social work theory and practice
  • Structuring and presenting critical analysis and argument

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

  • Reflective practice
  • Reflexivity
  • Independent learning
  • Self evaluation

 

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

  • Oral communication skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Oral and visual presentation skills
  • Teamwork
  • Interpersonal skills: engagement, empathy, tolerance and open-mindedness, negotiation

 

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

  • Problem formulation and solving
  • Information retrieval and research skills
  • International understanding
  • Time management
  • Working under pressure

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • Articulating and maintaining a professional social work identity within multi-disciplinary and interagency contexts
  • Using theories to inform practice in a professional context
  • Awareness of and adherence to appropriate ethical codes and frameworks
  • Achieving competence in assessed social work practice
  • Computing skills as required by Scottish Social Services Council
  • Numeracy skills as required by Scottish Social Services Council

 

Programme structure and features

The BSc in Social Work is undertaken on a full time basis over four years.

All students must register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as students of Social Work. The process will include an Enhanced Disclosure criminal record check.

In year 1 students are required to complete programme specific courses equivalent to two full courses and a further course or two half courses of their choice. In year 2 students are required to complete programme specific courses equivalent to one full course and two further courses or four half courses of their choice.

In years three and four students will be required to complete programme specific courses equivalent to 120 credits in each year. Students will also be required to complete satisfactorily a period of assessed practice in a service delivery setting in each of the two honours years.

The honours years courses (years 3 and 4) are designed to assist students develop transferable skills, professional knowledge and evidence-based practice competence.

Students leaving after year three are eligible for the award of BA (Humanities and Social Science).

All courses are reviewed on an ongoing basis by staff, students, practitioners and service users and by external professional bodies and other stakeholder interests such as the Scottish Social Services Council.

 

Course

SQF Level

Credit Points

Year 1

SW 1ah - Social Work: Making a Difference

8

20

SW1bh - From Research into Practice

8

20

SP1ah - Social Policy and Society

8

20

SP1bh - Politics of the Welfare State

8

20

Other non-mandatory, 'outside' courses

8

40

Year 2

SW2h - Policy & Legal Frameworks

8

20

SP2h - Social and Political Enquiry

8

20

Other non-mandatory, 'outside', courses

8

80

Students who wish to proceed to third year (junior Honours) must successfully complete the first two years of their Honours degree and achieve not less than grade C in each of the mandatory courses in their second year. Evidence of work in the field of social welfare (either in a paid or unpaid capacity) and an ability to reflect on this is also sought at this stage.

Course

SQF Level

Credit Points

Year 3

Becoming a Professional Social Work Student

10

Social Work in Communities

10

20

Social Work with individuals and families

10

20

Working with Self and others: skills theories and methods

10

20

Understanding Care and Control in Social Work

Practice Learning in Social Work                                  

10

10

20

40

Year 4

Working with Risk, Trust and Complexity in Social Work

10

40

Practice Learning in Social Work 2

10

40

Dissertation

10

40

Transition to Qualified Practice in Social Work

10

All of the above courses have their own handbooks and these are available on request.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and small group work. In your first two years social work lectures take place twice per week together with weekly tutorials. Other courses follow a similar model. In years three and four, teaching and learning is more intensive, incorporating placements and our Enquiry and Action Learning (EAL) model of learning in which students work in peer groups on case studies and presentations.  Work in these EAL groups is a key teaching and learning activity during your final two years.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 118820
Year 217830
Year 3205030
Year 4125632

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment is by coursework and exams in first and second year. In third and fourth year assessment is by coursework, group work participation and group presentations, and by performance in periods of practice learning in a variety of service delivery contexts.

Year 1

SW1ah Social Work: Making a Difference Short exercise (750 words) (formatively assessed, i.e. not graded) Essay (2000 words) - 60% of overall assessment and  an exam (40%)

SW1bh From Research into Practice Essay (2000 words) - 60% of overall assessment and an exam (40%)

Year 2

SW2ah Policy & Legal Frameworks Essay (2000 words) - 60% of overall assessment and exam (40%)

Year 3

Becoming a Professional Social Work Student

Social Work in Communities - One presentation (20%) and one essay (80%)

Social Work with individuals and families - One presentation (20%) and one essay (80%)                      

Working with Self and others: skills theories and methods - Class based exercise, participation in class (10%) and written assignment (90%)      

Understanding Care and Control in Social Work - One presentation (20%) and one essay (80%)

Professional Practice in Social Work 1 – Portfolio including recommendation from practice teacher                                             

Year 4

Working with Risk, Trust and Complexity in Social Work - One Essay (80%) and a Group presentation (20%)

Professional Practice in Social Work 2 - Portfolio including recommendation from practice teacher and Practice Study

Dissertation (10,000 words)

Minding the Gap: Transition to Qualified Practice in Social Work

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 142256
Year 233562
Year 30892
Year 400100

Career opportunities

As well as social work, graduates also move into community work and health-related settings. The strong communication and interpersonal skills that you will develop during your degree prepare you for a range of other careers working with people. Some Social Work graduates also choose to continue with their studies or enter research.

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