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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 centred around people – from babies through to older generations – working with those of all creeds, ages and races who need help to make their lives better. It's a challenging and responsible job.

Why study Social Work?

The profession of Social Work can 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.

Read our five reasons to study Social Work for more information on why you might choose this subject area.

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 understand the concerns of others delicately and how to ensure they get the help they need.

Besides social workers, particular job roles 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.

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