Social Work (BSW) L500

BSW Honours

Social Work


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Key Course Information

Entry Year


Course length

3 year(s)

A-Level Requirements *



Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences



Professional Year Out





Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

*Indicative Only. Please see the Course Entry Requirements section for details on subject specific or GCSE requirements.


Social Work is a vocational subject, and the purpose of these degrees is to educate and train students to become qualified social workers – people who are in the frontline, and part of society‘s efforts to cope with many community and personal problems.

Social workers play key roles in the delivery of services to care for people of all ages who are in need. They also exercise formal legal powers in response to many of society‘s problems such as child abuse, vulnerable adults, mental health problems, and working with offenders.

The School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is one of the leading centres of social work education in the UK, with The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015 ranking Queen‘sUniversity‘s Social Work in the UK Top 5.

Our degrees are a mixture of academic study and assessed practice placements, which are supported by practice teachers in a variety of local social work agencies.

In the delivery of our courses we are joined by a wide range of agency partners, who are an integral part of the development and delivery of these degrees.




Why Queen's?

Top-ranking: in the University league tables Social Work at Queen's is consistently in the top 10 out of the 74 universities in the UK which provide social work courses.

Professional Qualification: following an Assessed Year in Employment (AYE), graduates will be professionally-qualified social workers.

Funding: there is a non-means-tested financial support package for all Northern Ireland-domiciled students studying in Northern Ireland; for further details and to check your eligibility, please visit the DHSSPS website: ( Please note that all Health and Social Services bursaries are currently under review and may be subject to change.

Internationalisation: there are opportunities whilst on the Social Work degree to participate in summer visits to other countries to explore social work education and practise in an international context, including Germany, India and the United States.

Prizes: high-achieving students are awarded Brian Rankin prizes annually.


Did you know?

Social Work courses within the School are ranked 10th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2017

Course Content (including module information)

The main areas of study will be social work theory and practice skills, sociology, social policy, psychology and the law relating to social work.

Levels 1 and 2

Levels 1 and 2 of the degree will concentrate on giving students a foundation in these areas. There will be an emphasis on helping students develop practice skills in preparation for their practice placements, including knowledge of different methods of intervention.

Level 3

At Level 3, students will explore the needs of different users of social services across child, family and adult services. This teaching is supported by practice placements that will allow further development of knowledge and practice experience.

Throughout the degree, there will be an emphasis on the application of knowledge, theory and values to the practice contexts of social work. Much of the teaching, particularly of social work practice skills, will be in small groups and will feature the use of role-play.


Assessment & Feedback

Assessment (general):  The way in which you are assessed will vary according to the Learning objectives of each module.  Some modules are assessed solely through project work or written assignments.  Others are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations.  Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction.

Feedback (general):  As you progress through your course you will receive general and specific feedback about your work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and your peers.  As a university student, you will be expected to take a greater role in reflecting on this and taking the initiative in continuously improving the quality of your work.  Feedback may be provided to you in a variety of forms including: 

  • Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted. 
  • Face to face comment.  This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” to help you to address a specific query.
  • Placement employer comments or references.
  • Online or emailed comment.
  • General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
  • Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid.  In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars which you can review in your own time. 
  • Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
  • Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as, Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service. 

Once you have reviewed your feedback, you are encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work. 

Learning and Teaching

At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable student to achieve their full academic potential.

On the Bachelor of Social Work degree we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.   Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:

  • Lectures: introduce basic information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading.  Lectures also provide opportunities to ask questions, gain some feedback and advice on assessments (normally delivered in large groups to all year group peers).
  • Workshops:  where you will have opportunities to develop skills and apply theoretical principles to real-life or practical contexts. 
  • E-Learning technologies:   Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Queen’s Online.  A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree through, for example:  interactive group workshops in a flexible learning space; podcasts and interactive web-based learning activities
  • Seminars/tutorials:  Significant amounts of teaching are carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 students).  These provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of peers.  You should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups. 
  • Self-directed study:  This is an essential part of life as a Queen’s student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out. 
  • Personal Tutor:  Undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor throughout their social work degree course who meets with them on several occasions during the year to support their academic development and is the key link to the University during their practice learning opportunities. 

The main areas of study on the course are social work theory and practice skills, ethics and values, sociology, social policy, psychology and the law relating to social work. Level 1 concentrates on giving students a foundation in these areas. There is an emphasis on helping students develop practice skills in preparation for their practice learning opportunities (placements).

Level 2 will include the exploration of the needs of different groups of people who use social services and different methods of intervention. Level 3 focuses on the development of extensive knowledge and skills in relation to social work with adults, families and children as well as criminal justice and the courts.  Much of the teaching, particularly of social work practice skills, will be in small groups and will feature the use of role-play, video and web technology. We have a committed group of service users and careers who contribute to the course planning, development and to teaching.

At Level 2 and Level 3 an extended semester is devoted to practice placements that allow a broad development of knowledge and experience. Practice learning opportunities are provided in a variety of social work agencies located throughout Northern Ireland, including social services offices, day centers, children's homes, family resource centers and voluntary organisations. Students are taught, supported and assessed on placement by an agency practice teacher. Their university tutor also provides support and linkage with the University-based programme. In these placements students have to work full agency hours and will be seen as trainee professional social workers. Demand for placements is high, and students must be prepared to accept any placement that meets their learning needs. At Level 2 the placement is for 85 days from August to December and at Level 3 it is for 100 days from January to June. The BSW degree is a professional qualification in Social Work accredited throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  High achieving students in each year are awarded Brian Rankin prizes.  The link below takes you to the School’s website:

Entry Requirements

Selection Criteria

In addition to the entrance requirements below, it is essential that you read the How We Choose Our Students pdf prior to submitting your UCAS application.

Entrance Requirements

Undergraduate Route (3 yrs)

A-level: ABB + GCSE Mathematics grade C or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University

Irish Leaving Certificate: H3H3H3H3H3H3 + if not offered at Higher Level then Ordinary Level grade O4 in Mathematics is required. NB: applicants being considered for an offer will be interviewed.

Graduates: minimum standard 2.2, applicants must have a minimum of a grade C in GCSE Mathematics or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Relevant Graduate Route (2 yrs)

Relevant Graduate Entry: students with a relevant Honours degree (minimum standard 2.2) will be considered for admission to a shortened two-year course leading to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. Applicants must have a minimum of a grade C in GCSE Mathematics or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Irish Leaving Certificate: A minimum of a Lower Second Class Honours degree in a cognate subject. Please refer to degree entry for further information on cognate subjects. All applicants must have a minimum of Higher Level grade H5 or Ordinary Level grade O4 in Mathematics. NB: applicants being considered for an offer will be interviewed.

For ROI Graduates: students with a relevant Honours degree (minimum standard 2.2) will be considered for admission to a shortened two-year course leading to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. Applicants must have a minimum of a grade O4 in Ordinary Level Leaving Certificate Mathematics or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

A relevant degree is deemed to be an Honours degree where at least one third of the course passed at Honours level comprises one or more of the following: Sociology, Psychology, Social Policy/Social Administration; and degrees in Law, Teaching, Nursing, Community Work, Youth Work, Early Childhood Studies or other cognate subjects.

All applicants

  • Because of the professional nature of the course, a satisfactory Access NI check and registration with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and Independent Safeguarding Authority are required.

  • Applicants are advised to have some experience in employment or voluntary work of a social work nature.

  • Applicants being considered for an offer will be interviewed to assess their suitability for Social Work training. The interview is organised on a regional basis enabling candidates to have a single interview for all Northern Ireland Social Work programmes.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please click on Your Country in the International Students website.

If you are an international student and you do not meet the entrance requirements, you should consider a preparation course at INTO Queen's University Belfast, which will prepare you for successful study on these degree courses. INTO at Queen's is based on the University campus and offers a range of courses including the International Foundation in Business, Humanities and Social Science.

For students whose first language is not English

An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this degree. Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applications for admission to full-time undergraduate courses at Queen’s should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at:

When to Apply

UCAS will start processing applications for entry in Autumn 2017 from 1 September 2016.

The normal closing date for the receipt of applications is 15 January 2017.

Applicants are advised to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.

Earlier applicants normally receive decisions more quickly, however, UCAS accepts that some applicants, especially those from outside the UK, may find this difficult. Late applications are, in practice, accepted by UCAS throughout the remainder of the application cycle, but you should understand that they are considered by institutions at their discretion, and there can be no guarantee that they will be given the same full level of consideration as applications received by the advisory closing date.

Take care to enter the details of the institutions and courses clearly and correctly on the application. For Queen's, the institution code name is QBELF and the institution code is Q75. These should be entered in the Choices section of your UCAS application. A Campus Code is not required. For further information on applying to study at Queen’s, please click here.

Queen’s University Belfast Terms and Conditions 2017 Entry
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.

Career Prospects

Studying for a social work degree at Queen’s will assist you in developing the core skills and employment-related experiences that are valued by employers, professional organisations and academic institutions.  Graduates from this degree at Queen’s are well regarded by many employers (local, national and international) and over half of all graduate jobs are now open to graduates of any discipline, including social work. 

Employer Links 


At the heart of the delivery of the degree in social work in Northern Ireland is the sense of partnership between academic institutions, practice learning providers, organisations employing social workers, NISCC, students, and service users and carers. At Queen’s University this is given expression through a standing committee, the Collaborative Partnership at Queen’s (CPAQ).

The role of CPAQ is to:

  • assist in supporting regional partnership arrangements for the delivery of qualifying social work education
  • monitor the profile of applicants to the degree in social work at Queen’s University
  • provide advice on the content of the undergraduate social work curriculum
  • monitor the provision and quality of practice learning opportunities for students
  • support the involvement as required of service users and carers, and professional staff in the delivery of the social work programmes
  • keep the University appraised of developments in social care in Northern Ireland and elsewhere that may have implications for the content of the curriculum
  • review the outcomes of the social work programmes quality assurance mechanisms to ensure compliance with NISCC standards and requirements
  • keep NISCC informed of all significant matters related to the social work programmes at undergraduate level”

Placement Employers: We have excellent links with a large number of employers across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors including, for example, Health and Social Care Trusts, the Probation Board Northern Ireland and voluntary organisations such as NSPCC, Barnardos, Bryson House, Women’s Aid and Positive Futures. 

Our past students have also gained work placement with a wide range of organisations such as:

  • Health and Social Care Trusts
  • Barnardos
  • Positive Futures
  • Extern
  • Probation Service Northern Ireland 

Employers Forum: We also have an active and engaged Employers Forum - a panel comprising senior figures from some high ranking organisations in fields directly relevant to our degree programmes including Craigavon District Council and NI Community and Voluntary Association. The members of this panel, like CPAQ, advise staff in incorporating employability skills in the development of the social work degree programme. They also contribute to advisory sessions for students on careers and employability.

Graduate Careers and Achievements

Although the majority of our graduates are interested in pursuing careers in social work, some do develop careers in a wide range of other sectors. 

Social workers are employed throughout the statutory and voluntary social services. There are many career development opportunities leading to specialist posts and to the highest levels of management within statutory and voluntary social services agencies.

You should also take a look at and for further information concerning the types of jobs that attract social work graduates.

Further study is also an option open to social work graduates. Students can choose from a wide range of Masters programmes as well as a comprehensive list of research topics, see:

Other Career-related information: Queen’s is a member of the Russell Group and, therefore, one of the 20 universities most-targeted by leading graduate employers.  As a Queen’s student, you will be advised and guided about career choice and through the Degree Plus initiative, you will have an opportunity to seek accreditation for skills development and experience gained through the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer. 

Our full employability statement can be viewed at:,284878,en.pdf

Degree Plus and other related initiatives:  Recognising student diversity, promoting employability enhancements and other interests is part of the developmental experience at Queen’s.  Students are encouraged to plan and build their own, personal skill and experiential profile through a range of activities including; recognised Queen’s Certificates, placements and other work experiences (at home or overseas), Erasmus study options elsewhere in Europe and learning development supports as well as involvement in wider university life through activities, such as clubs, societies,  and sports. 

Queen’s actively encourages this type of activity by offering students an additional qualification, the Degree Plus Award (and the related Researcher Plus Award for PhD and MPhil students).  Degree Plus accredits wider experiential and skill development gained through extra-curricular activities that promote the enhancement of academic, career management, personal and employability skills in a variety of contexts.  As part of the Award, students are also trained on how to reflect on the experience(s) and make the link between academic achievement, extracurricular activities, transferable skills and graduate employment. Participating students will also be trained in how to reflect on their skills and experiences and can gain an understanding of how to articulate the significance of these to others, e.g. employers.

Overall, these initiatives, and Degree Plus in particular, reward the energy, drive, determination and enthusiasm shown by students engaging in activities over-and-above the requirements of their academic studies.  These qualities are amongst those valued highly by graduate employers. Further information is available at

Fees & Scholarships

There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union. Higher education funding arrangements mean that students can study now and pay later.

Further details can be found on our fees and funding section.

Queen's works to ensure that all those who can benefit from a university education have the chance to do so, and a generous system of financial support is in place to help them. Each year Queen’s offer a range of scholarships and prize for new students. The most up to date listings are available here.

For international students, information on tuition fees, can be found here. Information on scholarships for international students, can be found here.

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