also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Lancaster is 1st in the UK for Social Work in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2017). You will be taught by the best academics in the field and our course is accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You will gain the skills and experience you need to be effective and successful in your chosen career.
Social workers face complex and challenging situations and need to be committed to the principles of social justice. At Lancaster, you will learn with enthusiastic lecturers, practitioners, service users and carers. We emphasise research and cutting-edge knowledge to enable you to develop a critical but reflective approach to understanding social work in contemporary society.
Two practice placements form an important and integral part of this vocational degree. These are an excellent way of getting to know the role of a social worker and give you hands-on experience to back up your academic learning. This ensures that when you graduate you are prepared for work in the rapidly changing environments of social care.
The two first-year modules, Social Work Practice and Contemporary Social Problems, will give you an introduction to the nature, origins and values of social work and to the economic, organisational policy and social circumstances in which it is practised. You will set issues in the context of class, gender, race and ethnicity, and disability to start developing a critical understanding of social work.
Your first placement starts at the beginning of the September before your second year and runs through to mid-December. You then complete a series of modules that include Social Work with Children and Families, Social Work in Adult Social Care and The Research-minded Practitioner.
Your third-year modules include Mental Distress and Health and, uniquely to Lancaster, Social Work and Drug Use. In addition, all social work students write a dissertation. Your final practice placement runs from January to May of your third year.
A Level ABB
GCSE Mathematics grade C or 4, English Language grade C or 4
IELTS 7.0 overall with at least 7.0 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
Interviews Applicants for the Social Work course must have experience of voluntary or paid work in a social service or welfare setting, or personal experience. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a recruitment day involving a group exercise, an individual interview and a written test.
International Baccalaureate 32 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Merit
Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via email@example.com
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module challenges you to think about why some private troubles become public concerns or social problems while others do not. It considers how certain issues are constructed as ‘problems’ and the factors that contribute to this. It helps you to understand more about both why we study social problems and the various ways in which we can do so.
Throughout the module we explore broad historical and contemporary responses to social problems. In particular, we will seek to understand how contemporary social problems reflect and reproduce economic and social inequalities and how those inequalities are constructed through different welfare ideologies and approaches.
The module is underpinned by five key themes: need, community, citizenship, rights, and equality and social justice. We look, for example, at research and conceptual ideas that can help us understand poverty in contemporary society: we explore different ways of defining and measuring poverty, explanations of why people are poor, how the state attempts to tackle poverty and how it impacts upon the lives of individuals.
Small-group seminars are used to encourage discussion and debate, and you will be able to choose from a wide range of topics for your subsequent assignments and assessments.
Are social workers agents of the state – or defenders of human rights? Or could they be both? Setting the foundation for your social work practice, this module explores the role of a social worker, considers the policy framework in which social work operates, and develops your awareness of the tensions and challenges inherent in social work practice.
It introduces you to a variety of social work settings and areas of practice with individuals, families, groups and communities, and familiarises you with established and innovative social work processes.
We explore the legal, ethical and value-based foundations of social work practice, and encourage you to reflect on how these relate to your own experience. We examine ethical and cultural issues involved in practice, and working with difference and diversity – within an ethos of anti-discriminatory practice. You begin to consider your skills development and how your skills might map to the professional standards and frameworks set out for social work practice.
We also examine key legislation affecting each of the different areas of social work, and case studies are used to help you take a critical approach to how the law is applied in practice.
Tutors and contributors to this module have wide experience of a range of social work settings, and during the workshops you will have the opportunity to talk with people with first-hand experience of both delivering and receiving care.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
In this module we explore the challenges facing young people in the UK today, particularly those involved with the criminal justice system. Youth justice has been a contentious area of social policy for many years, and the contemporary situation is no different, with the national and local policy formulations posing particular considerations for social work within the values, ethics, skills, and methods which are so important to it, within a multi-professional and multi-agency setting.
The module seeks to draw out the particular features of a system which contains within it a variety of identifiable views on the causes of youth offending, and various means to deal with the problems which the young people themselves might face, and problems which they may present to others.
Social work is a messy, unpredictable, complex and intangible activity. This is because it is tied up with human emotions and emotions are very difficult to explain, quantify, objectify or fit into neat boxes. Actively engaging and using the emotions involved, both in terms of the practitioner and service user, enables a deeper social work approach to take place and enables the forming of relationships. Such relationships can then be used as the tool themselves to bring about positive changes for children and families who are receiving intervention from youth justice social workers.
Social workers working within the youth justice system know through their experience what is most likely to be effective in meeting the aims of the system – that is prevention of offending. To achieve this means real questions need to be asked about the effectiveness of the technical-rational risk focused approach of the current youth justice system in favour of a system which adopts the principles of Munro (2011) and empowers social workers to actively use critically reflective and reflexive practice and supports the use of self to build powerful social work relationships with the vulnerable children they work with.
This module focuses upon developing your understanding of the contribution that social work can make to the lives of disabled and older people who use adult social care services or who may be in need of support.
Its starting point is that concepts such as the social model of disability, independent living and personalisation are ways of thinking as well as doing. This requires social workers to understand the philosophy and principles that underpin ways of delivering support and that enable choice and control for people who use services.
This module helps you to appreciate how working effectively in partnership with service users and the wider community around them requires social workers to understand the legacy of paternalistic, oppressive and dependency cultures in creating ways of understanding the problems of disability and old age, and the forms of provision that these understandings have led to.
This module builds on the earlier foundation module, Social Work Practice 1, and continues the process of preparing you to demonstrate your readiness for practice, through critical examination of the social work knowledge base.
The module examines the contested nature of social work knowledge by considering differing theoretical perspectives and and how different theories of knowledge come about. It introduces you to key methods and theories of social work, and the importance of use of self, reflexivity and critical thinking to practice.
The classroom sessions also include guest speaker input from both practitioners and service users, enabling you to learn directly from their experience.
The module enables you to build on the knowledge, values and skills you have developed during your first placement and to reflect on the learning and feedback you have gained from the practice context. Importantly, it is about helping you to be not simply a passive recipient of knowledge but more aware of how you can apply that knowledge actively within your own practice.
This module helps you to apply a wide range of knowledge and skills to help build family relationships, resource and resilience so that the welfare of the child remains paramount. You will learn the latest child care law, policy and statutory guidance, and how to think critically about the assumptions, language and practices that underpin ‘risk’ assessments and social work practice relating to child care.
We explore the role played by developmental psychology in shaping concepts of childhood within welfare and protection practices. We also consider child harm and crimes against children and the problematic nature of child-rearing practices in conditions of poverty, isolation, single parenthood and cultural diversity.
You are introduced to key elements of effective practice, with a particular focus on how to safeguard and engage children and families – especially when the social worker also has to balance the often competing interests of parent and child and to deal with the challenges of multi-agency working.
The importance of timely assessment and intervention to prevent family breakdown is also stressed, as is the need for care planning and partnership working with parents whose children have become subject to legal proceedings. You will also become familiar with court structures, roles and processes relevant to child care social work.
The module exposes you to the latest research, including analysis of serious case reviews, enabling you to demonstrate a high level of skill in evidence based, effective social work approaches to helping children and families which support change.
How can social workers know that their decision-making is informed by the best possible evidence? How prepared are they to defend the evidence on which they rely to service users and other professionals in court or in case conferences?
Whilst there are many forms of evidence, one important source is that of research. Social Work’s Professional Capabilities Framework and the HCPC Standards of Proficiency both insist that research and research-mindedness is central to confident and effective social work practice. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s subject benchmark statement for Social Work also emphasises the importance of social workers having the skills to engage with research and employ knowledge from research in their practice.
This module is designed to give you the skills and attributes needed to become a practitioner who understands and can demonstrate the value of research evidence for practice, can critically appraise different forms of evidence and interpret complex and sometimes conflicting findings, and can apply research appropriately in your own practice.
The module also supports your ability to develop and apply the skills necessary to undertake independent study for your dissertation.
This module enables you to explore in some depth a social-work-related topic of your choice by undertaking a coherent and logical review of a relevant piece of literature relating to your chosen topic. It thus demonstrates and extends the knowledge and skills you have developed through other modules and through your placement experience.
You start thinking seriously about your dissertation during the summer term of Year 2 when there are two briefing sessions which help you to produce a dissertation rationale. After you have been allocated a supervisor, you then agree a plan of study before the end of the summer term. In the final briefing session, at the beginning of Year 3, the focus is on structure, writing strategies and how to produce a chapter plan.
The assessment of the dissertation examines whether you are able to produce a coherent and substantial piece of writing on a chosen issue, draw on and evaluate research evidence and other relevant literature, and address critically the policy and practice context of contemporary social work.
Mental health is an increasingly complex area of social work practice, due to competing rights and sanctions, fast-paced legal change and controversial case law precedents. The boundaries between lawful and unlawful practice are not easily identifiable, which presents a challenge for social work – especially given our duty as social workers to defend people’s human rights.
This module is designed to enable you to develop a critical understanding of the nature of contemporary mental health services, and the associated legislative, policy and practice context. It emphasises the importance of alternative constructions of mental health, as opposed to the dominance of the medical model, and asserts the importance of service user expertise.
The module concludes by re-evaluating the role of social work in mental health services and considering implications for future practice.
This module develops your awareness of the use of drugs in society. The impact that often chaotic (though non-chaotic use can still be problematic), chronic and habitual drug and/or alcohol use and misuse can have on individuals and families is well documented, and the wider societal impact of such use, which often tends to be highly prevalent within socially and economically deprived communities, means that it is a pertinent issue, if not a tangible cause for concern for the helping professions, social work in particular.
The complexity of the ‘role’: the function of being agents of social control and change, community developers, and ‘caring’ professionals, in relation to individuals attempting to change their habits (often of a lifetime in certain cases) of drug and alcohol misuse, cannot be overstated.
Good social worker practice treats people with fairness, ensures equal opportunities and never rejects people for what or who they are. However, building a successful relationship with service users when their life is often chaotic and complex requires good communication and a willingness to listen coupled with dogged determinism and the ‘patience of a saint’. It isn’t easy and therein lays the challenge.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
By graduating in social work you are eligible to register as a professional social worker in England, and many social work graduates go on to work as professional social workers in social services departments, the NHS, specialist agencies and the voluntary sector.
However, the skills, values and knowledge gained on this degree are highly valued in other careers that involve training, consultancy and research – and a large number of Lancaster graduates are now active in these areas or hold senior managerial posts.
The Social Work degree also provides a solid foundation for postgraduate study.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Additional information for BA Social Work students
For social work students ordinarily resident in England, there are bursaries available through the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). Information, including eligibility criteria can be found on the NHSBSA website, in their regular Bursary Newsletters, and in their 'Ask Us' section. As there are a limited number of bursaries available, Lancaster University has agreed to allocate these according to certain criteria.
The criterion by which we nominate Undergraduate Part 1 students for bursaries will be as follows in this order:
1. Combined overall grades for the modules Social Work Practice 1 and Contemporary Social Problems. The marks used (unless there are any accepted mitigating circumstances) will be those from the first submission of your coursework and first sitting of your examinations. These will be confirmed after the re-sit boards.
2. Exam grade for the module Social Work Practice 1
This criterion results in a list of students in rank order. If there are two or more students with the same grade and there is only one bursary left then we will base our decision on criterion two. If this still results in a draw then we will apply criterion three and then, if required, criterion four.
3. Your attendance record for the module Social Work Practice 1
4. Conditions set out by the Department of Health, including passing ‘readiness to practice’ at the end of the first year
The social work bursary scheme is currently being reviewed and you should regularly check the NHSBSA website to keep up to date with any changes that will be in place for your entry year.
Travel costs may be incurred in getting to Social Work placements. The amount will vary depending on the location of the placement but students may be able to claim a placement travel allowance from the NHS or a contribution from the agency offering the placement towards the cost of travel. All Social Work students will need to pay for an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check. Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
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Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework