Undergraduate Social Work

The BA (Hons) in Social Work is the route into professional social work for applicants without a first degree. It is both an academic undergraduate degree and a professional qualification in social work, awarded by Lancaster University. We aim to help students develop into confident social workers who:

  • are reflexive, adaptable, skilled and capable of autonomous thought and independent learning;
  • possess a knowledge and understanding of the legal, policy and organisational contexts of social work, and the relevant aspects of sociology, psychology and social policy;
  • have acquired appropriate skills and values in order to practise competently in a range of settings where social work takes place, including, for example, hospitals and prisons, and to work alongside other professions;
  • have an understanding of issues of social exclusion and of the implications of this for access to the personal social services.

Graduates of the BA (Hons) Social Work are eligible to apply to register as social workers with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To be eligible to apply to register with the HCPC on graduation you must be able to demonstrate that you have reached the Standards of Proficiencyit has developed for social work. The social work degree programmes at Lancaster University are designed to ensure that on their successful completion students will meet these standards. In addition, the Knowledge and Skills Statements for Social Work are central to our programmes, as specified by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and students must demonstrate competance against these. 

We also offer a unique Masters in Social Work, Ethics and Religion. Read more.


Students undertake a mix of taught courses within the University and two practice placements of at least 170 days within local social work agencies. Courses enable you to monitor your learning and development from entry level to the end of your training through the Professional Capabilities Framework. By the end of the programme you will be expected to have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and values to work with a range of user groups, the ability to undertake a range of tasks at a foundation level and the capacity to work with more complex situations. In addition, you should be able to work more autonomously, whilst recognising that the final decision will still rest with a supervisor and you will know how to seek appropriate support and supervision for your continuing professional development as you embark on your Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).

Find out more about what placements are like.


The BA (Hons) Social Work is assessed by coursework and examinations and professional evaluation during the two practice placements. This professional assessment of practice will be undertaken by practice educators who will make recommendations to the University. Undergraduate students must also complete a dissertation (10,000 words) on social work practice.

What social workers do

The following websites are likely to be useful to you in developing your understanding of social work as a profession. They are all externally provided and Lancaster University cannot be held responsible for their content.

Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC is the regulating body for social work and other health and care professionals. It keeps a register of health and care professionals (including social workers) who meet the Standards of Proficiency that it sets. Visit HCPC website.

NHS Business Services Authority. The NHSBA administers the social work bursary for students ordinarily resident in England. Visit NHSBA website

Social Work Action Network (SWAN). SWAN is a network of social work practitioners, academics, students and social welfare service users that promotes a model of social work rooted in social justice. Visit SWAN website


The University has a number of stakeholders who advise on the content of the course and who also provide practice placements. Partnership between the University and social work agencies in the north west is nothing new. The degree partnership is founded on a history of co-operation going back to 1975, which has covered student selection, assessment and placements, shared teaching, in-service training, post-qualifying courses, higher degrees and collaborative research. We are confident that the BA programme has strengthened, and will continue to strengthen existing ties and allow the established tradition of high quality social work education at Lancaster to be maintained and developed. All stakeholders in the degree have equal opportunities policies and share a commitment to develop and to implement anti-racist and anti-discriminatory policy and practice. The course team will ensure that such policy and practice are central features of the degree. All students will be expected to demonstrate both their understanding of racism and discrimination and their capacity to apply this understanding to their social work practice.

Further Information

If you have any questions about our social work schemes, please contact us:

Tel: 01524 594098

E-mail: socialwork@lancaster.ac.uk