Bachelor of Science with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
This Course provides relevant graduates with the knowledge, skills and values to practice as a professional Social Worker across a range of settings.
The BSc Honours Degree in Social Work is a professional qualification that meets the requirements of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. Training to become a social worker involves a mixture of academic study and professional practice learning opportunities for a total of 185 days during the Degree. During Practice Placements (two episodes of 85 days and 100 days) students will work full time alongside social work practitioners and supported and assessed by a Practice Teacher. A range of placement opportunities are provided by a wide range of agency partners from Health and Social Care Trusts and other voluntary and statutory agencies and these providers are integral to the development and delivery of the programme.
The design and delivery of this ‘fast track’ degree programme is premised on the relevant graduate qualities of the applicant in meeting the demands of this accelerated learning programme.
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The programme is for those who intend to work as professional social workers, and includes a substantial element of practice learning. You will undertake two contrasting practice placements - one of 85 days duration in Year 1, and one of 100 days duration in Year 2. The programme is recognised by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council for purposes of registration as a social worker. It is also recognised internationally, for example, by the Australian Association of Social Workers via their International Qualifications Assessment process.
Although the programme includes underpinning learning in the social sciences, such as social policy, psychology, sociology and law, the focus of the programme is on the development of skills, values and knowledge required for practice. You must successfully complete a preparation for practice learning module (Year 1, Semester 1) prior to undertaking supervised practice learning on placement.
Why choose a Career in Social Work?
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
The Course lasts 2 years with full time attendance on campus for 2 semesters. In the second semester of each year students will normally be on placement with a Social Work Agency.
Our Learning and Teaching Strategy is based on Ulster University’s Corporate Plan, ‘5&50’ which is a Five Year Strategic Plan, Fiftieth Year Strategic Vision (2016-2034) to offer the highest quality learning and student experience. Its overarching aim is to provide students with high quality, challenging and rewarding learning experience that equips students with the knowledge, skills, values and the confidence necessary to demonstrate critical intellectual inquiry, to progress in their career, to adapt to change, and to become responsible global citizens who make meaningful contributions to the Social Work profession. This is achieved through evidence based and research informed curriculum design, continuous quality improvement, student voice and feedback and through meaningful engagement with service users, who actively contribute to teaching and learning on the program.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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This module enables students to acquire an understanding of the legislation and legal practice underpinning Social Work practice in Northern Ireland. Its initial focus is on legal method and the legal system, providing students with sufficient understanding of legal process to underpin the 'follow-on' law module in Year 3 of the Degree. In the areas addressed in this module, students are encouraged to critically appraise the application of the law.
This module is designed to facilitate students at Level 4 in developing essential research, and presentation skills, along with knowledge and skills in critical reflection for academic and professional learning and development. The acquisition of knowledge and skills on reflection and research are critical to academic and lifelong professional development in social work practice.
This module explores the theoretical underpinnings of social work and neighbouring academic disciplines. Psychology is of particular relevance, for the insights it offers into the drivers of human behaviour, and the interventions it has developed for the caring professions. This module explores these links and connections in the context of social work practice.
This module aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the social work profession, its roles and functions in the statutory and voluntary sector and, additionally, to provide students with a theoretical and ethical base for practice at Level 5.
The Preparation for Practice Learning module is a pre-requisite in order to progress to your first Practice Learning Opportunity (PLO). The module assessment has three elements; a written tuning-in assignment, a summative skills role-play assessment, and a written evaluation assignment. There is no compensation across these and students must pass all three elements in order to pass the module.
Assessment of this module will determine fitness to proceed to Level 5 practice learning, and successful completion is therefore a pre-requisite for placement.
This module is designed to encourage enquiry based learning by setting tasks that require problem solving and debate for students enabling them to construct their own learning on sociological and social policy concepts. This is important for social work as we want each student to start to develop and reflect on their own values, knowledge and experience of societal issues that in turn impact on service users, carers and providers we work with.
This module is designed to support the development of a strong professional identity. Identity in social work is essential for sustained, confident and competent professional social work practice. This module is designed to develop the foundations for this development including understanding the influence of self on professional practice and mechanisms for sustaining professionalism.
This module provides students with a knowledge of the legal system and the legislation pertinent to Social Work practice. It also focuses on the interaction between Social Workers and lawyers, in what some refer to as the emerging discipline of Social Work law.
This module will provide the opportunity for students to acquire underpinning knowledge of theories and methods of intervention for social work practice. It will enable students to identify and integrate relevant theoretical concepts and methods of intervention, providing a necessary foundation in preparation for practice learning.
Students will be asked to reflect upon the interface between their own personal values in relation to the helping process and the opportunities and limitations generated by the professional social work role. The Experts by Experience, Citizen Educators and Communities experience will be the primary focus in facilitating this critical evaluation utilising underpinning theoretical models.
The Preparation for Practice Learning module is a pre-requisite in order to progress to the first Practice Learning Opportunity (PLO). The module assessment has three elements; a written tuning-in assignment, a summative skills role-play assessment, and a written evaluation assignment. There is no compensation across these and students must pass all three elements in order to pass the module.
Assessment of this module will determine fitness to proceed to Level 5 practice learning, and is a pre-requisite for placement.
The module is designed to develop social work student assessment skills and the identification and management of risk across a range of practice settings. The module will prepare students for undertaking assessments of need and risk by providing knowledge on current assessment frameworks and guidance used across many Social Work settings.
The module is designed to provide Social Work students with a knowledge base of the assessment frameworks currently used in a range of Social Work settings in Northern Ireland. It provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their assessment skills in relation to analysing information, forming professional judgement and understanding of the Social Work role in a numbers of practice situations. It explores the issues and dilemmas for professional Social Workers in relation to the assessment of need in a resource limited service.
It also looks at risk thresholds and risk management strategies in Social Work practice and the learning from recent inquiries and departmental guidance and protocols. The module provides online resources and lecture material to assist in the development of assessment skills. The theoretical knowledge and evidence base practice research that underpins the assessment frameworks, and the need for multi-disciplinary working is also taught. The two hour lectures are supported by weekly interactive seminars.
This direct practice learning module enables students to apply college based teaching in relation to social work knowledge, values and skills to the practice setting, to develop effective helping relationships and to work in accordance with statutory and legal requirements as an accountable member of the organisation.
This self-directed module relates to Level 5 Practice Learning and will equip students with the ability to integrate and apply knowledge, skills and values in direct supervised practice.
At first practice learning students must develop skills working through the social work process of preparation, assessment, planning, intervention, endings and review. This module is designed to give them the skills to do this in a sufficiently professional and academic manner, in order to prepare students for the rigor needed in working with complex situations involving high levels of need and risk.
This module examines the organisational factors and professional factors underpinning a range of Inquiries and Case Reviews. Of necessity, it concentrates on regional cases impacting on different service user groups to enable students to identify systemic factors , highlighting professional responsibility and encouraging development of a model of good practice.
This module examines the changing nature of contemporary social work practice as a result of the transformation of the welfare state in the UK over recent decades and it examines the need for critical social work in a period of significant organizational and professional change. Furthermore, the module provides appropriate knowledge and understanding of research methods and evidence informed practice to contribute to the development of critical thinking skills.
This module is optional
Study abroad and pre-departure information sessions containing individual and group exercises, help students explore and anticipate potential personal and professional development.
Lectures and seminars at host institutions inform students about the international dimension of their academic discipline whilst absorbing wider experiences.
Recording and updating learning through reflective practices gives students the opportunity to document their learning, their goals and aspirations and their plans.
The module is web supplemented and is administered (in part) using the University's virtual learning environment plus other secure online systems.
This module provides the opportunity for students to continue to develop their social work practice by exposure to practice in a foreign country. They will reflect on how this experience helped to develop their knowledge skills and they will develop their empathetic understanding of isolated, excluded and oppressed groups.
Outgoing Ulster University students will be awarded a Diploma in International Studies.
This module enables students to acquire an understanding of the legislation and legal practice underpinning key areas of social work practice in Northern Ireland, such as child protection, relationship breakdown, mental health and community care law. It builds upon the foundations laid in Social Work Law 1. In the areas addressed in this module, students are encouraged to critically appraise the application of the law.
The family and childcare module will prepare final year undergraduate students for Social Work practice in a range of Social Work roles and settings. The three main areas of child care practice, safeguarding/child protection, family support and looked after children (including fostering and adoption), will be covered. A range of social work and other professionals will provide the lectures on current, evidence-informed family and childcare practice and multi-disciplinary working. The multi-disciplinary and interagency practice learning component normally includes inputs from the police, primary health care, voluntary child care organisations, social services and specialist child care services. The module has a clear child protection/safeguarding focus including teaching on, the signs and indicators of abuse and neglect, recognising and responding, the use of assessment frameworks, professional decision making and child safety planning. There is service user input on the module. The legislative and policy context for family and child care practice in Northern Ireland is critically examined and the module is informed by child care theory, research and Inquiry reports from the UK, Ireland and the international context. The module is supplemented by online resources, plus workshops to prepare students for practice with children and families. The module is assessed by a class test and a recorded case study presentation. Students are required to pass both assessment components to pass the module.
Students will acquire knowledge on a range of Social Work interventions in Adult Care and explore their application within specialist and multi-disciplinary settings. Students will critically reflect on how Social Workers can effectively intervene with adults from a range of service user groups, ensuring human rights, inequalities, and anti-oppressive practice with values and ethics and social justice principles underpinning interventions in practice. Students are required to pass both assessment components to pass the module.
This module, which relates to Level 6 direct practice, will enable students to consolidate knowledge, skills and values acquired during Level 5 practice experience.
This self-directed module relates to Level 6 Practice Learning and will equip students with the ability to integrate and apply knowledge, skills and values in direct supervised practice.
This module, which involves self-directed study, will enable students to develop an enhanced knowledge of a particular service user group in relation to the social work service they receive. Students will be encouraged to critically appraise key literature and empirical evidence to support their discussion.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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This 2 year accelerated Social Work course is for relevant graduates only and is not open to school leavers. Applicants must be graduates with at least a second class honours degree in a cognate area.
A relevant degree (second class lower division or higher) is deemed to be an Honours degree, where at least 33% of the programme passed at Honours level comprises one or more of the following: Sociology, Psychology, Social Policy/Social Administration, Law, Teaching, Nursing, Community Work, Youth Work, Early Childhood Studies and other cognate subjects at the discretion of the University.
Applicants with a third class honours degree are not considered.
Applicants who do not have a cognate degree should apply to the three year course.
GCSE English Grade C/4 or Essential Skills Communication Level 2 (Pass) or Communication Module (Level 2) in Access programme.
GCSE Mathematics grade C/4 or Essential Skills Numeracy Level 2 (Pass) or Maths modules (Level 2) in Access programme.
English language requirements for international applicants:
Minimum of Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5
Trinity ISE: Pass at level III
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
How we select our students
STAGE 1 -Application for all courses must be made via UCAS.com by the closing date of 26 January 2022 (18:00 hours). Applications received after this deadline will not be considered. Applications for all 4 of Ulster’s Social Work courses are dealt with centrally by the Admissions Office at Ulster (Magee Campus):
Magee campus (3 year degree) UCAS Course Code L500,campus code M
Magee Campus (2 year relevant graduate degree) UCAS Course Code L501,campus code M
Belfast Metropolitan College (3 year degree, first two years at BMC, final year at Magee Campus) UCAS Course Code: L505,campus code W
Dungannon, South West College (3 year degree, first two years at SWC, final year at Magee Campus) UCAS Course Code: L506,campus code X
Applicants are advised that having some experience in employment or voluntary work of a social work nature is beneficial but not essential.
STAGE 2 -A Consent & Declaration form will be sent to you by email. If you receive this from both Ulster and Queen’s you must complete both and return to the relevant institution.
STAGE 3 - Interview -you will be invited to participate in a video interview. Interviews will take place in February 2022. The interview questions will explore your motivation and understanding of social work values, self-care and diversity. It is important that you draw upon any life, academic or work experience (voluntary or paid).
NB: It is assumed that if you submit your video interview for assessment, that you were 'fit' to create this. If unwell a request should be made for an alternative date and this will be accommodated, where possible.
STAGE 4 - Offers: Applicants who pass the ‘suitability interview’ are ranked by interview score. Offers are normally issued in April. However not all applicants who are deemed suitable will receive an offer at this stage due to the government quota for social work places in Northern Ireland. You should note that, if you have applied to both Ulster and QUB, it is possible to receive an offer from one institution and not the other.
Those applicants who do not receive an offer in this first round will be placed on a 'reserve list' in case places become available at a later date (this may not be until August). There is no guarantee that additional places will become available. If you are unsuccessful at any of the above stages you will be notified via UCAS.
Registration with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council
Social work students in Northern Ireland are required to register with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NI_SCC). You will be asked to sign a declaration that you will comply with the NI_SCC Standards of Conduct for Social work students available at the following link NI_SCC Standards of Conduct for Social Work Students
As part of the registration process you will be asked to provide information so that NI_SCC can assess your suitability to train as a social worker. This is known as, ‘Fitness to Practice’. Each case is considered separately and on its own merit. Further information can be accessed at the following link: https://niscc.info/fitness-to-practise-and-hearings
Department of Health Incentive Scheme
Social work students currently benefit from an incentive scheme. This bursary is valued at £4000 per year with an additional £500 to assist students with the cost of studying. The scheme remains under review. Please see full details.
All modules are compulsory.
Students who do not pass the Preparation for Practice Learning module may transfer to a related academic subject within the Faculty e.g. BSc Hons Health and Social Care Policy, BSc Sociology with Options.
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Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
A social work career can lead to employment in a range of diverse settings, such as;
There is an opportunity to participate in Erasmus+ which offers the exciting opportunity of studying in in Germany during your course. There are also opportunities to complete a 3-week Summer School in Oslo during the course.
The Diploma in International Academic Studies (module code SWK302). This is a separate and additional award to the degree. Students will be provided with opportunities to reflect upon and assimilate their knowledge learned in the earlier parts of the programme through their work with service users in a foreign country.
Accredited by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).
Fees illustrated are based on academic year 22/23 entry and are subject to an annual increase.
If your study continues into future academic years your fees are subject to an annual increase. Please take this into consideration when you estimate your total fees for a degree.
Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply.
The Eamon McFadden Memorial Prize: First year prize for preparation for practice learning module.
The Excellence in Social Work Practice Award: Awarded in final year to the student who has achieved the highest total score in the all practice based components (placements/practice learning opportunities) within the programme of study.
The Huw Griffiths Working with Service Users Award: Awarded to the student who has achieved the highest mark in the working with service users module.
Criminal Record check and Occupational Health Screening costs
This course is subject to Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (2003) legislation and applicants who gain a place on the course will require an Enhanced AccessNI Criminal Record check due to the nature of social work. This will cost approximately £33. This check happens in advance of becoming a student and may be repeated prior to two practice learning placements the during the 3 year training cycle.
Occupational Health Screening will also be carried out for new students. Costs associated with this are currently £35 for initial health screening with an additional £50 charge should vaccinations be required. A further Hepatitis B vaccination may be required if a student is allocated a placement in a clinical or hospital setting at an additional cost of £90. Please note these are 2021/22 prices that are subject to change for 2022/23.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
Emer Carlin (Admissions):
Sarah Harkin (Admissions):
Course Director: Tony McGinn:
"My experience so far as a Social Work student at Ulster University has been extremely fulfilling on both a personal and professional level. Not only have I been provided the opportunity to further my knowledge and understanding of social work on an academic basis, I have also been able to apply this learning to a practice whilst on placement. Being able to gain invaluable first-hand experience of working in a social work setting has been extremely rewarding and has helped me to become more confident in my own abilities. The lecturers are engaging and supportive whilst also encouraging independent working, and the modules on the course are interesting, useful and relevant to a career in social work. I have also met so many like-minded, friendly people in my fellow students and have really enjoyed my experience at Ulster so far." Year 2 Social Work Student
"Before starting the social work degree, I didn’t have a great concept of the work that is involved when becoming a social worker. This is my second year of the degree and I’m loving it! I am learning and developing so many skills and knowledge that will benefit me in social work practice and I’m growing in my own personal skills. I have learnt so much already and I am excited to keep learning." Year 2 Social Work Student