The BSW degree is a professional qualification in Social Work accredited throughout the UK and recognised in the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere. The programme is a mixture of academic study and assessed practice learning opportunities . Practice learning opportunities involve full-time work in a social work agency (85 days at Level 2 and 100 days at Level 3) supported and assessed by a Practice Teacher. A wide range of social work agency partners are an integral part of the development and delivery of the programme.

Social Work Degree highlights

Social Work at Queen’s is ranked 10th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2017.

Global Opportunities

  • 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 and the United States.

Professional Accreditations

  • The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) accredits the BSW degree, followed by the Assessed Year in Employment (in Northern Ireland only). All students must register with NISCC and this registration must be maintained for the duration of the programme. NISCC is solely empowered to admit and retain students on its register.
  • Following an Assessed Year in Employment (AYE), graduates will be professionally-qualified social workers.

Industry Links

  • For information on the Assessed Year in Employment see http://www.niscc.info/assessed-year-in-employment-aye For employment opportunities in the statutory sector in Northern Ireland see https://www.hscrecruit.com/ For registration as a Social Worker in the Republic of Ireland see http://www.coru.ie/en/about_us/social_workers_registration_board

Student Experience

  • Social Work at Queen's is consistently in the top 10 out of the 74 universities in the UK which provide social work courses.
  • 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: (www.dhsspsni.gov.uk). Please note that all Health and Social Services bursaries are currently under review and may be subject to change.

Course content

Course Structure

Modules often draw on international comparisons with a strong Irish (North and South) emphasis. Specialist teaching on the impact of the ‘Troubles’ is a feature of the BSW degree.
Stage 1
Introduction to Social Science
Law for Social Workers
Social Work Theory and Preparation for Social Work Practice
Themes and Issues in Social Policy
Psychology for Social Work
Sociology for Social Work
Stage 2
Social Work in Context
Research, Policy and Practice
Social Issues Across the Life
Practice Learning Level 2
Evidence Informed Case Study Level 2
Stage 3
Social Work with Children and Families
Social Work in Adult Services
Social Work in Criminal Justice and the Courts
Practice Learning Level 3
Evidence Informed Project Level 3

People teaching you

Programme Director for Bachelor of Social Work (Under Graduate Route)

Contact Teaching Times

Large Group Teaching
10 (hours maximum)
hours of lectures
Medium Group Teaching
5 (hours maximum)
hours of practical classes, workshops or seminars each week
Personal Study
24 (hours maximum)
22–24 hours studying and revising in your own time each week, including some guided study using handouts, online activities, etc
Small Group Teaching/Personal Tutorial
2 (hours maximum)
hours of tutorials (or later, project supervision) each week

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 opportunities and 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:

Read more

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 programme through the use of, for example, interactive support materials, podcasts and web-based learning activities.


These introduce foundation information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. As the module progresses this information becomes more complex. Lectures, which are normally delivered in large groups to all year-group peers, also provide opportunities to ask questions and seek clarification on key issues as well as gain feedback and advice on assessments.

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. Stage 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).

Stage 2 will include the exploration of the needs of different groups of people who use social services and different methods of intervention. Stage 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 and video. We have a committed group of service users and carers who contribute to the course planning, development and to teaching.

At Stage 2 and Stage 3 an extended semester is devoted to practice learning opportunities 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 centres, children's homes, family resource centres 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. Practice learning opportunities are arranged and allocated by the University in partnership with social work agencies facilitated by the Northern Ireland Degree in Social Work Partnership. Demand for placements is high, and students must be prepared to accept any placement that meets their learning needs. At Stage 2 the placement is for 85 days from August to December and at Stage 3 it is for 100 days from January to June.

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.


A significant amount of teaching is carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 students). These sessions are designed to explore, in more depth, the information that has been presented in the lectures. This provides students with the opportunity to engage closely 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 their peers. During these classes, students will be expected to present their work to academic staff and their peers.


Where you will have opportunities to develop skills and apply theoretical principles to real-life or practical contexts.


Details of assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

Read more

The way in which students 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.


As students’ progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, practice teachers and on-site supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:

Read more

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.

Practice learning provider comments or references.

Observations of practice carried out by Practice Teachers during practice learning opportunities.

Online or emailed comment.

General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.

Discussion with your Personal Tutor and the development of an Individual Learning Plan.

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 will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work.


The School is located within a recently renovated building, with state of the art teaching and learning facilities, together with dedicated student space including a large student common room. The teaching facilities enable an interactive learning environment.

Entry Requirements

Entrance requirements

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

Irish leaving certificate requirements
H3H3H3H3H3H3 + if not offered at Higher Level then Ordinary Level grade O4 in Mathematics is required.

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

Access/Foundation Course
Successful completion of Access Course with an average of 70%.

All Access course candidates must have a minimum of a grade C in GCSE Mathematics or the equivalent in the Access Course.

BTEC Extended diploma
Successful completion of BTEC Extended Diploma with 120 credits at Distinction and 60 credits at Merit + GCSE Mathematics grade C or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Applicants being considered for an offer will be interviewed. The interview process is currently under review for 2018 entry.

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

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

3. 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.

Selection Criteria

In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance notes on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.

How we choose our students


For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

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: http://go.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

  • Academic English: 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.


INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.

These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.

INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)


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 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.

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 all of whom provide practice learning opportunities to our students.

Our past students have also gained employment with a wide range of organisations such as:
Health and Social Care Trusts
Positive Futures
Probation Board for Northern Ireland

Employment after the Course
The majority of BSW graduates gain graduate level employment in a social work agency and complete the Assessed Year in Employment (AYE) to complete their full registration with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).

Employment Links
For information on the Assessed Year in Employment see http://www.niscc.info/assessed-year-in-employment-aye
For employment opportunities in the statutory sector in Northern Ireland see https://www.hscrecruit.com/

For registration as a Social Worker in the Republic of Ireland see http://www.coru.ie/en/about_us/social_workers_registration_board

Close links with employers
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, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (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

Professional Opportunities
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 www.prospects.ac.uk and www.niscc.info 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 Master's programmes as well as a comprehensive list of research topics.
The typical starting salary of graduates six months after graduation is between £21,000 and £22,000 with 90% of graduates finding employment (source: Unistats).

Additional Awards Gained

The BSW is the recognised professional qualification in Social Work.

Prizes and Awards

The highest achieving students in Social Work are awarded the annual Brian Rankin Prize with the highest achieving student receiving the Brian Rankin medal.

Degree plus award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) £4,160
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £9,250
Other (non-UK) EU £4,160
International £15,550

Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

Read more

Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library.

If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.  

Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.  

Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

If a final year includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Social Work costs

Students are responsible for funding travel costs to and from placements in years 2 & 3 and in undertaking modules SWK1005/2017 (Introduction to Social Sciences for Social Work) in year 1. These are offset by a £500 contribution from the Department of Health Incentive Scheme (which is under review and subject to change). Work placement travel expenses may be reclaimed from the Practice Learning provider (dependant on the organisation you are on placement with). A registration fee of £20 is payable annually to NISCC for student Social Workers.

How do I fund my study?

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.

Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.


Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.

* information shown is for 2017-18 and should be used as a guide until 2018-19 scholarships are confirmed.

How and When to Apply

How to Apply

Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).  Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/apply.

When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2018 from 1 September 2017.

Advisory closing date: 15 January 2018 (18:00).

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.

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

The Institution code for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.

Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/

Apply via UCAS
After an offer is made this will be notified to applicants through UCAS. Confirmation will be emailed by the Admissions and Access Service and this communication will also include Terms and Conditions (www.qub.ac.uk/Study/TermsandConditions) which applicants should read carefully in advance of replying to their offer(s) on UCAS Track.

Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students

  1. Applying through UCAS
    Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2018.
  2. Applying direct
    The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
  3. Applying through agents and partners
    The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.

Download a prospectus



Register your interest

Stay in touch

Course location

Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
69/71 University Street
Queen's University Belfast
Belfast BT7 1HL

Open Days and Tours

Visit our beautiful campus.

Discover events


Ranked in the top 10 for university accommodation.
The Telegraph, 2015

A home from home

Life at Queen's

9th in the UK for student experience
Times Higher Education, 2017

Explore more

Your Questions Answered

Get in touch

Search again

Back to search