This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a module introducing health and social care followed by a module which introduces social work standards and codes of practice.
- Stage 2 starts with a module covering the law and social work and is followed by a practice module, which includes a 70-day placement.
- At Stage 3, you’ll choose one module from a choice of three and conclude your degree with a practice module where you will undertake a 100-day placement.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
Stage 1 develops essential underpinning knowledge and study skills – including digital and information literacy – and offers fascinating perspectives on contemporary society and how we organise social care. It’s the ideal start to your journey towards registration as a professional social worker, and as you progress you’ll draw on your learning time and again.
Stage 2 covers a range of legal issues related to social care and social work practice including children and family services, youth justice, community care and mental health. You’ll start to apply your learning to your own practice and understand the key roles that social workers undertake and the relevant knowledge, values and skills of the social work process.
At Stage 3 you’ll choose one area of interest to study from four options, then finish your degree with a practice-based module. You’ll become an increasingly confident, critical, analytical and reflective practitioner, and an independent learner. After successfully completing your studies, you can apply to register with the social work regulator in England and begin your career as a qualified social worker.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Social Work (England) uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- working in a group with other students
- using and producing diagrams and screenshots
- undertaking practical work
- finding external/third party material online
In addition to the above, there are entry requirements for this qualification which include medical criteria; the regulatory body for the BA (Hons) Social Work (the HCPC) has guidance
on health and disability relating to fitness for professional practice.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our Disability support page to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You application for credit transfer towards this qualification needs to be made by 2 July 2019.
To check the eligibility of your previous study for credit transfer into this qualification and for details of how to apply, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) Social Work (England) degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
Although some modules in this degree are available to all students, the full degree programme is at present restricted to students who are being supported in their practice by their employing agency.
You must also:
- have GCSE at grades A*-C in English and mathematics or certified equivalent
- meet the UCAS tariff threshold of 96 points or equivalent
- show that you can communicate clearly in spoken and written English
- demonstrate that you have the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be a social worker
- obtain an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) with barred lists (children and adults) check
- undertake a written test
- take part in an interview.
Entry to the degree must be through your employing agency; you cannot apply direct to the OU. Agencies and individuals interested in taking part in the programme are invited to contact us. Students who get a place on the degree course can pay their own fees or be funded by their employer.
Please ask your employer to complete an Expression of interest form located on our Social work website.
Applications close 01 August 2019
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week, plus work-based learning.
Skills for career development
This degree will develop the skills needed to work with individuals, families, carers, groups, communities and other professionals, and you’ll be able to demonstrate to employers your professional competence in social work practice. Employers sponsoring staff on this degree have commented that:
- OU graduates are enthusiastic social workers who are well equipped to provide high quality interventions with service users
- a very high percentage of their OU qualified staff remain within their organisation and progress to more senior roles.
An honours degree in social work is now the minimum professional qualification required for all social workers in the UK.
Once you’ve successfully completed this degree course, you’ll be entitled to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and begin your career as a qualified social worker.
Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):
- Social worker
- Care home manager
- Probation officer
- Prison officer
- Adult guidance worker
- Advice worker
- Careers adviser
- Charity officer
- Community development worker
- Equality and diversity officer
- Health promotion specialist
- Volunteer coordinator
- Youth worker.