The Bachelor of Social Work Degree
Queen's University offers three routes to the degree of Bachelor of Social Work. 64 places are available on a three-year programme, 40 places on a two-year course for students who already hold a relevant degree, and 8 places on a five-year part-time route. Application for all three routes is via UCAS.
Social Work Education at Queen's
Social Work education and training is provided by the University in partnership with Social Work agencies in the community. In addition to the University’s quality assurance processes, a steering group of key stakeholders, including people who use services and carers, oversees the degree. Together, we provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for today's professional social worker.
Social Work has had an excellent reputation at Queen's University for many years. Its high teaching and research quality is demonstrated in being consistently in the top ten of the range of league tables for Social Work courses. Teaching excellence has been confirmed through University subject review and by other polls. We take teaching seriously. Staff place considerable emphasis on developing effective methods of learning and teaching, and make innovative use of internet technology.
We also enjoy a national and international reputation for our research and wider publications. The curriculum benefits from the research undertaken by Social Work academics, and their work influences local, regional and national policy and practice.
Social Work is part of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work. The School is located in a combination of new and refurbished premises at 6 College Park . This is part of the central University precinct and directly opposite the McClay Library. All staff are committed to a student-friendly atmosphere that we hope makes the years studying with us enjoyable.
Social workers are in the frontline of society's efforts to cope with many community, family and personal problems. They have key roles in services caring for people of all ages who are in need. They also exercise formal legal powers in response to many of society's problems e.g. child abuse, mental health problems and working with offenders.
The International Federation of Social Workers provides a useful definition of Social Work: "The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundametal to social work."
The BSW is designed to equip students to be competent professionals. The challenging nature of the work means that social workers need a sound understanding of social problems and how best to intervene in them. This means that students have to be familiar with the law and with relevant social policy, sociology and psychology. This is why, although a vocational subject, Social Work requires a rigorous academic training. The degree is a mixture of academic study and assessed practice placements.
The Government provides a financial support package for Social Work students, details of which are provided in the Social Services Inspectorate leaflet – Training for Tomorrow's Professionals. This is available at www.dhsspsni.gov.uk.
The programmes are accredited by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC). All students must be registered with the Council and adhere to the NISCC code of pratice. Students are also subject to the University's Fitness to Practise and related regulations.
The BSW degree, followed by the assessed year in employment (in Northern Ireland only), is the professional qualification for social workers in Northern Ireland and all of the United Kingdom. The qualification is valid in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the European Community.
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.
Course Content and Practice Placements
The undergraduate programme has been developed in partnership with employers. The main areas of study will be Social Work theory and practice skills, ethics and values, sociology, social policy, psychology and the law relating to Social Work. Level 1 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.
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. Throughout the degree students will experience a range of teaching methods that include lectures, tutorials, role plays, small group and individual work. Assessment methods include assignments, oral presentations, exams, use of video and involve academic staff, other professionals and the peer group. We have a committed group of users of social services (The Social Work Education Consultative Group) who contribute to the course planning and to teaching.
Practice learning opportunities are provided at Levels 2 and 3 in a variety of Social Work agencies located throughout Northern Ireland, including social services and probation offices, day centres, hospitals, residential homes, hostels, court settings, family resource centres and voluntary organisations. Students are taught, supported and assessed on placement by an agency practice teacher. Their University tutor will also provide 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.
The Relevant Graduate Route teaches this material across two rather than three years and so is necessarily more pressured.
For the three-year undergraduate route the entry requirements are A Level: ABB plus GCSE Mathematics. Applicants are advised to have some experience in employment or voluntary work of a Social Work nature.
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 should have GCSE passes in English Language and must have a minimum of a Grade C in GCSE Mathematics or an equivalent qualification recognised by 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. The classification of the applicant's degree and employment experience in the Social Work field are taken into account in the selection process.
The part-time route is designed specifically for people with health and social care experience (voluntary or paid) which include full-time caring responsibilities. For full details of admission requirements and the programme, please click here.
Because of the professional nature of the course, a satisfactory Access NI check and registration with the Independent Safeguarding Authority are required. All 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 singe interview for all Northern Ireland Social Work programmes.
Applications for all three programmes are through UCAS. Due to the heavy demand for the programmess we do not accept late applications.
Candidates should ensure that the information contained in the application form is complete since failure to provide all relevant information can lead to applications being unsuccessful. It is important to emphasise that the personal statement on the UCAS form will be scrutinised for evidence of commitment to Social Work.
Candidates who meet the initial selection criteria are asked to provide a further 600-word statement regarding their reasons for wishing to pursue a career in Social Work and a panel will assess this. Those who meet the required standard will then be called for interview.