We use cookies to ensure the best user experience and to serve tailored advertising. To learn more about our cookies and how to manage them, please visit our cookie policy

The January deadline for UCAS undergrad applications has been extended to 29 January 2021. Learn more about applying to uni and UCAS deadlines.

Guide to studying Social Work

Social Work is a rewarding and important subject, and those sufficiently trained are vital in helping the wellbeing of the community and beyond.

Counselor taking notes while analysing a young man


  1. What's Social Work?

  2. Why study Social Work?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Social Work graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Social Work?

Social Work is all about understanding and striving to improve the lives of people in society.

A degree in this area leads to a profession that's centred around people – from babies through to older generations – working with those of all creeds, ages and races who need help making their lives better. It's a tough and responsible job.

Why study Social Work?

Social workers listen to peoples' needs, from young children to older adults struggling with addictions, and help them cope and improve their happiness. You could be making a different person's life easier every day.

Social workers are found all around society, and a degree in Social Work provides you with the foundations to undertake a variety of different professional roles. This includes working as a probation officer, charity officer or family support worker.

The profession can also open up areas of real power in a career. Social workers serve in government and education. Whether it's this, or you're offering personal therapy, you have the ability to change lives.

Skills that are developed through Social Work courses are valued by many employers in different sectors. These skills include communicating, problem solving, empathy, teamwork and time management.

There will always be people in need, so there will always be a demand for those who are educated in the subject area, meaning jobs shouldn't be too difficult to find.

Social worker checking in on elderly woman

What jobs can you get as a Social Work graduate?

Social Work degrees teach transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as how to delicately understand the concerns of others, and how to ensure they get the help they need.

Particular job roles, aside from social worker, include probation officer, careers adviser, charity worker, counsellor, volunteer coordinator and youth worker.

Numerous companies offer graduate schemes in this subject, including the Man Group.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Social Work have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Social Work students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively. 

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Different universities ask for different A Level grades (or equivalent). Useful subjects to have studied include Psychology, Sociology and Law.

Make sure to confirm the grades and other requirements with the university/college you're interested in before applying.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Sport Rehabilitation
  • BA Learning Disabilities Nursing and Social Work
  • BA Social Welfare and Advice
  • BA Applied Social Work

How will you be assessed?

Learning is assessed through a wide range of methods, ranging from coursework assignments and essays to observed practical placements, presentations and role-play situations. Exams take place each year, both open and closed book, with a dissertation as a third-year option.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MAs in Social Work, as well as master's courses in Adult Services Support, Advanced Child Protection, Advanced Clinical Practice, Autism Practice and Neurorehabilitation.

Related articles

College at University of Cambridge

Entry requirements

Entry requirements in the UK vary between universities. Read about how to use this...

12 Jan 2021
Technological Prosthetic Robot Arm is Tested by Two Professional Development Engineers

Guide to studying Prosthetics & Orthotics

Prosthetists and orthotists use the latest technology to transform the lives of patients...

13 Jan 2021
Two university students walking and talking

Clearing success stories

Clearing can be a positive experience, giving you the chance to find your perfect course....

17 Feb 2020

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Sorry about that...



Thanks for your feedback!