A Social Work student guide to learning support

by Kerrie Watson

When I first came to Lancaster to study Social Work, I was so excited to start a course I was passionate in. However, like other new students, I worried about what support was available within my department and how I would find it. In this blog post, I answer some common questions I had when joining Lancaster University.

What support is available to me academically?

Within the University and the Sociology Department there is a variety of support and lecturers you can speak to if you are struggling academically or personally.

Academic tutors - Every undergraduate study is assigned an academic tutor. This person will be a member of your department. They can discuss academic concerns such as module questions, mark schemes, resubmitting assignments and your overall progress during your degree. Whilst many students may feel that an academic tutor is purely for academic queries, they are also there to support you personally.

When you arrive at university it can take a couple of weeks until you are assigned your academic tutor. However, don’t worry: there is plenty of other support within your Department in the meantime. Your assigned academic tutor will usually email you within the first couple of weeks of University to arrange a time to meet.

Module leader - In Social Work you will study set modules and each module will have a module lead. This person is someone who runs the module, presents the lectures and leads the seminars and workshops.

When joining the University, you will use Moodle (a virtual learning platform) to find more information about your modules. You can find out the module lead for each module on Moodle. If you have any questions about a module or are struggling with the module and could benefit from further guidance, then you can contact your module lead.

When I’m on placement, what support is available to me then?

It can be difficult when on placement as you aren’t in University for an extended period of time. The Department still works hard to ensure there as much support available as possible to guide you through your Social Work placement.

Practice Educator - When on placement every student will be assigned a Practice Educator. A Practice Educator is a qualified Social Worker who has completed further training in supporting Social Work students when on their placements. A Practice Educator may not be there to support you day-to-day whilst on placement as they may not work in the same setting, however they are there for you to discuss cases together, disclose any concerns and ask for advice when working so you can progress and learn to the best of your potential.

Placement Supervisor - A Placement Supervisor is someone who is in the same placement setting as you. For example, if your placement is in a school your placement supervisor may be the headteacher. This person is here for any day-to-day enquiries you may have about your role and duties whilst on placement.

What about if I have additional learning needs, is it inclusive?

The Department are great at making alternative arrangements when needed. Discuss any concerns or personal needs you have with either the Director of Social Work or your Module Leads when working with them. The Department are great at providing alternative arrangements for students who have additional requirements.

Are there any specialist facilities or teaching spaces for Social Work?

When writing this blog, I discussed this with the current Social Work Programme Lead and found out that, whilst Social Work currently have teaching spaces across campus and in Bowland, there are plans for teaching spaces to be developed in the future. Spaces will be designed to allow students to use technology to progress in practice, for example by recording themselves to help practice active listening skills. This is a really exciting addition to the current Sociology Department.


Kerrie is a second year undergraduate at Lancaster University, and is studying Social Work.

Lancaster University employs students to create authentic content from a student perspective. All views expressed in this article are those of the students, and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Lancaster University.