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BA (Hons) Social Work

UCAS Code L500

Join our leading social work university; we're ranked 1st in the UK for Social Work (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020) and we’ll prepare you with the skills you need for a successful career.

The Scottish Social Services Council accreditation

Key facts

  • Award BA (Hons)
  • Start date September
  • Duration 48 months
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Accreditations The Scottish Social Services Council

Would you like to have a career that makes a positive contribution to society? If so, our stimulating and challenging Social Work degree could be for you. Our Social Work degree combines practical experience with theory, and gives you the professional qualification you need to practise social work and help change people’s lives. We're ranked joint 1st in the UK for Social Work (The National Student Survey 2017).

You’ll be taught by qualified social workers, and members of national and international social work organisations. Our course content draws on the latest knowledge and experience of people working in social work today. Social workers are often involved in complex and difficult situations, as well as meaningful work. We equip you with the skills you need to successfully deal with the variety of social problems you could encounter in social work.   

For entry onto this highly regarded course, you’ll need to demonstrate some involvement with social work, the care system or a related field prior to starting the degree. This can take the form of volunteering or unpaid work.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Professional accreditation

    When you successfully complete your Social Work degree, you can register as a qualified social worker with the Scottish Social Services Council. England, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own registration body and they all accept this degree.

Entry requirements for your country/region

  • Year 1 entry – Four-year honours

    SQA Highers
    AABB - by the end of S5
    AAAB - by the end of S6

    GCE A-levels

    IB Diploma
    32 points

    BTEC (Level 3)

    Essential subjects
    Mathematics Standard grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C/4) or equivalent

    Widening access students
    Widening access students may be eligible for an adjusted offer of entry. To find out if this applies to you go to our widening access pages.

    Care-experienced applicants will be guaranteed an offer of a place if they meet the minimum entry requirements.

  • Other Scottish qualifications

    Scottish HNC/HND
    Year one minimum entry - Bs in graded units.

    Access courses
    University of Stirling access course - for mature students only. You must pass the course with 50% or above.

    SWAP access course - for mature students only. Please check the SWAP progression routes document for details.

    Email our Admissions Team for advice about other access courses.

    Foundation Apprenticeships
    Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

    Essential subjects
    Mathematics Standard grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C/4) or equivalent

  • Other qualifications

    English, Welsh and Northern Irish HNC/HND
    Merits and Distinctions

    English, Welsh and Northern Irish access courses
    Access to Higher Education - 60 credits, minimum 45 at QCF Level 3, pass at 60% or above.

    Essential subjects
    Mathematics Standard grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C/4) or equivalent

  • Advanced entry

    Advanced entry is not available for this course.

  • Additional information

    General entrance requirements apply

    If you’ve taken exams over two sittings, repeated an exam, or been upgraded, the entrance requirements may be higher.

    Voluntary, paid or personal experience of social work or related activity is essential for entry onto our Social Work degree.

    Application procedure

    There is a two-stage, paper-based selection process for our Social Work degree.

    First stage: your UCAS application form.
    This is screened for social work-related knowledge and experience, as well as qualifications, so your personal statement is particularly important. 

    Second stage: additional written work.
    If your application form covers the required areas, in terms of qualifications, experience and understanding of social work, you’ll be invited to submit an additional piece of written work. You’ll be given two social work scenarios and asked general questions about the challenges and attractions of being a social worker.

    You must register with the Scottish Social Services Council by the start of the second semester in Year 1. As part of the registration process with the Scottish Social Services Council, all applicants are subject to a Criminal Records check. You must be registered on the social work student section throughout your course and this is your responsibility to fulfil.  

    Previous criminal convictions may not exclude you. However, certain convictions must be declared during the University application process and some previous convictions may result in your application being unsuccessful. Please see the Disclosure Scotland Website for guidance on which spent convictions must be declared.

    Our Social Work course is not available as a combined degree.

  • Other routes of entry

    If you’re an international student and don’t meet the academic and English-language requirements for entry onto this degree, there are other options to prepare you. You could take our International Foundation programme. Delivered by INTO University of Stirling on our Stirling campus, you can benefit from excellent teaching and supportive English language training. Find out more about the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences programme.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS 6.0 with 5.5 in each skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English 54 overall with a minimum of 51 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL 80 with no subtest less than 17
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

    Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses

Semesters 1-3
You’ll follow introductory courses in Sociology and Social Policy to give you an understanding of the wider context for social work.

In addition, you’ll take four modules that introduce you to social work knowledge, skills, law and policy, and one which incorporates community-based practice. You’ll also take two other modules of your choice.

Semesters 4-8
You’ll benefit from working alongside postgraduate students who are studying social work at MSc level. Through a combination of well-supported work placements and class-room learning, you’ll cover:

  • How to apply theory to social work practice, with two assessed practice placements in Semesters 5 and 6. You’ll work directly with people who use social services, as well as being supported and supervised by qualified social workers and other professionals.
  • Specific social work skills in relation to different members of society, including: children; families; people with disabilities and people who offend.
  • In your fourth year you’ll write an Honours dissertation and carry out a piece of empirical research. We believe it’s vital to have experience in carrying out research to understand its relevance in practice.


The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course details

  • Teaching

    All our teaching staff are qualified Social Workers with a strong commitment to the profession, in terms of sharing knowledge and research. We also use online resources and learning methods to benefit your study experience. From Semester 4 onwards, we encourage you to engage with theory and research through case studies, role plays, discussions and project group work.

    Involving Social Services Users and Carers 

    Our University of Stirling Social Work Service Users and Carers’ Group, ‘UNITY’, was established in 2005 in recognition of the important contribution that people who use social services have for social work education. UNITY members are involved in many aspects of the Social Work degree, including direct teaching and the selection processes. They also provide you as a student, the opportunity to practice your interviewing skills.

    Find out more about Unity.

  • Assessment

    We use a number of assessment methods, including analytical accounts of practice, video-recorded assessment of practice skills, class presentations, an oral examination, placements and essays.

    When you reach your final Honours year, you’re required to write a dissertation based on a piece of empirical research. We believe that you should have experience of carrying out research in order to fully appreciate its relevance to practice.

  • Work placement opportunities

    You’ll have two professional practice learning opportunities in Semester 5 (75 days) and a second module spanning across the summer period and into Semester 7 (95 days). You’ll work directly with people who use social services, under the supervision of qualified social workers and other professionals. Placements usually take place within a 60-mile radius of the University of Stirling and you’ll be assessed by a qualified Practice Teacher.

    You could also join the Social Work Society through the Student Union. This offers a support base for you to discuss issues regarding social work and professional development, as well as the opportunity to get involved in related activities.

  • Contact
  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (Fees are different for each course)

      2019/20 2020/21

    Scottish/EU Students

    Although you’re liable for annual tuition fees, students domiciled in Scotland or the EU will be able to apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government on their behalf. If you’re unsure of your fee status, you can check your eligibility online.

    You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    Important note for EU students

    The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2019 and 2020 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree. The future fee status of EU students enrolling in UK universities will depend on the timing and terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union. The University will make decisions on fee levels for EU students enrolling in 2021 when further guidance is available from the Scottish and UK governments, and will publicise information about fee levels and financial support available on our University and Europe information pages.

    While students should be aware this may mean a change from the current position where EU students are treated with equivalence to Scottish students, it is also important to note that any changes would also require changes to existing UK and Scottish legislation. Current indications are that the UK would leave the EU at the earliest in 2020, so any changes would not take effect before the academic year 2020/21.


    *This tuition fee is set by the Scottish Government, and may be subject to change.


    Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland

    If you’re domiciled in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you’ll be able to apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fees, from your relevant funding body.

    You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    If you successfully complete Years 1-3 of your course, you will also be eligible to receive an Honours Year Scholarship valued at £9,250 to cover the tuition fee costs of your fourth and final year of study. Learn more about the Honours Year Scholarship.

    There is additional funding available for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland – please see Funding opportunities below.


    *This tuition fee may be subject to change depending on guidance provided by the UK Government.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    You will be liable to pay fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    £12,450 £13,100

    You should expect to pay fees for every year you attend. Fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

  • Funding opportunities

    See what funding opportunities and loans are available to help you with tuition and living costs.

    Students domiciled in Scotland and the EU

    The University of Stirling offers undergraduate funding opportunities for students domiciled in Scotland or the EU. To find out if you’re eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

    Students domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (RUK)

    The Undergraduate Choice Scholarship provides a £1,000 cash award to all students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland who meet the conditions of their offer and select the University of Stirling as their Firm or Insurance choice on UCAS.

    The University also offers the Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to selected students and provides a £1,000 cash award per year for years 1-3 of study. To be considered for the Merit Scholarship, students require a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent.

    In addition, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who enter in year 1 and progress successfully through years 2 and 3 will receive our Honours Year Scholarship, which covers the cost of undergraduate tuition fees in the Honours year of study.

    You don’t need to apply for the awards listed above - we'll automatically identify your eligibility as part of the admissions process.

    To explore other scholarships and learn more about funding opportunities, use our scholarship finder.

    Students domiciled overseas

    The University of Stirling offers generous undergraduate funding opportunities for overseas students. To find out if you're eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

    To register with the Scottish Social Services Council as a Social Work student, you’ll need to pay an application fee of £15, plus an annual fee of £15 thereafter.

    The two practice placements may include extra travelling costs. All or part of these may be claimed back due to additional direct funding to the programme from the Scottish Government.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling.

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay.

What can you do with a social work degree?

Our BA (Hons) Social Work degree will equip you for social work jobs throughout the UK and in a variety of settings, including local authorities, prisons, hospitals and non-governmental organisations. The nature of the work is extremely varied and you can move between different work settings throughout your career.

  • Our Social Work graduates earn an average salary of £32,000 six months after they complete the course (UNISTATS)
  • Employability skills

    We focus on developing your practical social work and research skills. Your employability is one of our highest priorities, and we want to give you an advantage when you enter the job market. Our Social Work degree includes two work experience placements. We also provide you with many opportunities to gain insight into the sector: from our qualified teaching staff, to social service users and carers, and staff from local voluntary organisations and agencies, we make sure you get the best support to start your social work career.

  • Companies we work with

    Through our partnerships with local authorities and voluntary organisations, we regularly receive excellent feedback on our students – both on practice placements and as newly qualified social workers. We prepare our Social Work degree students for the demands of agencies and real social work practice.

    It has been my experience, and that of my practice teaching colleagues, that social work students coming from Stirling are of exceptional calibre and bring with them a high level of knowledge and skills which they appear to easily transfer to practice. This of course has been enabled by the quality of teaching that they receive from both tutors and practitioners who’re involved in various aspects of the course prior to students undertaking a practice learning opportunity.

    Vivian Fitzsimmons, Practice Teacher/Coordinator, Falkirk Council

    Practice teachers (who supervise students on placements) comment favourably on the preparedness of the students and also on the quality of the work they undertake.

    Shelagh Low, Workforce Development Officer for Fife Council.

Katja Nicholson
It was extremely beneficial that all lecturers were qualified social workers and brought a vast amount of knowledge and experience of different areas of social work to teaching.
Katja Nicholson
Scotland BA (Hons) Social Work
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I have had the opportunity to hear from leaders in their field and to examine society in a way which is productive to Social Work practice.
Charleen Gay
BA (Hons) Social Work
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I remain actively involved with the University of Stirling both as an External Marker and Practice Assessor and this has clearly allowed me to continue to enhance my own personal and professional development in social work.
Kevin Carter
BA (Hons) Social Work
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