BSc (Hons) Social Work - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)

Social Work

UCAS codeL500

full time3yrs

Innovative and cutting-edge teaching and learning in social work practice

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Social workers are key professionals and provide an important focus on peoples’ needs, while also developing new and interesting means of delivering services. Do you feel you have the strength and capability to work within one of the many facets of social service? If so, this course will prepare you to understand the fast-changing world of social work.

For further health information, please see our additional health information page.

Values and the NHS Constitution

We endeavour to recruit students to our health and social care courses who have the right values base and demonstrate appropriate behaviours. We embed the values of the NHS Constitution throughout our admissions processes and they are an essential part of the curricula. Find out more about the values we look for.

What will I experience?

On this course you will:

  • Be taught by experts at the forefront of research and who are fully informed on developments within social work
  • Develop your skills and knowledge through practice simulation, for example giving evidence in a simulated court environment, and skills based workshops
  • Put your learning into action during your work placement and get the opportunity to complete an aditional summer social work placement in Germany
  • Experience inter-professional learning by shadowing and receiving mentoring from experienced practitioners while they assist real service users

What opportunities might it lead to?

This degree is the professional qualification for social work, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). It will provide you with the knowledge, theory, values and skills to work with the most vulnerable individuals and groups in society.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • advocacy agencies
  • community healthcare practice
  • rehabilitation centres
  • voluntary organisations
  • the NHS and Criminal Justice Agencies
  • hospitals and Schools



Health Sciences and Social Work

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The clinical and real-life learning approach that will equip you for your chosen career
  • Our simulated environments that mean you’ll gain and practise the skills you’ll need before entering the workplace 
  • Approachable lecturers, many of whom are teacher practitioners

Browse all courses in Health Sciences and Social Work

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Your first year will ensure you gain the foundation knowledge, values and skills that you’ll be continuing to develop throughout the course. This will also be your initial training for your work placements in actual practice settings.

Core units in this year include:

  • Theoretical Foundations of Social Work
  • Contextualising Social Work
  • The Life Course and Social Work
  • Professionalism and Professional Social Work Practice
  • Social Work Law and Social Policy
  • Social Work Skills and Interventions

Year two

In this year you’ll build on what you have already learnt and explore how the service can be adapted to other users.

Core units in this year include:

  • Social Work with Children and Families
  • Social Work Adults
  • Decision Making and Risk
  • Creativity, Innovation and Empowerment in Practice
  • Practice Placement 1

Year three

Your final year will focus on professionalism and professional judgement in practice. You’ll also complete a piece of independent study on a topic of particular interest to you.

Core units in this year include:

  • Safe-guarding and Promoting Well-being
  • Reflective and Resilient Professional Practice
  • Independent Research Study
  • Practice Learning 2

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


Face-to-face learning via lectures, seminars and practical workshops, and teaching methods such as simulation (in a court setting for example), report writing, observational techniques and direct work approaches, including creative art and performance. This will ensure that you will be able to develop the appropriate communication and engagement skills, theoretical and analytical skills, and apply these using professional judgement and expertise.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 23% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 77% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 15% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 48% studying independently and 37% on work placement
  • Year three students: 9% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 45% studying independently and 46% on work placement


On this course there is a varied blend of assessment methods as well as a dissertation, which can be subject-specific to follow the direction of your career. Here’s how we assess you:

  • tests (academic or practical/skills based)
  • compilation of filmed and recorded artefacts
  • online assessment
  • academic written work/portfolios
  • presentations
  • dissertation/project

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 0% by written exams, 25% by practical exams and 75% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 17% by practical exams and 83% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework

Tutor's view


Chris Penney
Social Work

The undergraduate programme equips successful students to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council. Central to the programme ethos are professionalism and professional judgements, person centered practice and protection of vulnerable persons. In preparing students for the professional role of social work, the programme challenges participants to become 'professional leaders' in the wider context of social care practice.

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Facilities & Features

UoP Social Work Inclusion Group

On this course you’ll work closely with the University of Portsmouth Social Work Inclusion Group (SWIG) – a service user group with experience of working, directly or indirectly, with social workers. SWIG members aim to help you understand service user experiences and enable you to hear their narratives. Our ethos and commitment is built upon professional values developing new and innovatory approaches based on an understanding of co-production and partnership working. This is a great way to gain insight into service user needs and best social work practice.

Centre for Simulation in Health and Care

Our aim is to enhance your learning and experiences through the use of innovative technologies. You’ll practise profession-specific skills in a safe and supportive environment as well as experience the types of clinical and informal healthcare situations that you’ll encounter in the workplace. The Centre is used to simulate real-life scenarios – a great way to prepare you for the real thing during placement.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

You will need to meet the cost of travel associated with mandatory placements. Travel costs will vary depending on the distance travelled and mode of transport. The NHS may meet some of the costs incurred.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

On successful completion of the course you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), enabling you to work as a professional social worker in a wide variety of statutory, voluntary and independent sector agencies.

This is an exciting time for social work. A report from the Social Work Reform Board and the recent developments at the National College of Social Work mean that social work as a profession is experiencing a high public profile. Potential careers are in adult services, children and family services, mental health, criminal justice and a wide range of other statutory, private and voluntary organisations.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • social worker
  • care manager
  • persistent offender coordinator
  • family support worker
  • housing adviser

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

A key component of this degree is practice learning. You’ll also have the opportunity to undertake two practice placements – one in your second year and one in the third. There’s also the chance for you to take your final- year placement in another country with options for placements in several European countries.

Your placements provide you with practice experience in different sectors of the social care workforce and involve working with two different groups of service users. You’ll therefore have the option to work in different social care settings including:

  • care for children and families
  • residential care for people with disabilities
  • community mental health teams
  • hospital social work departments
  • youth offending teams
  • advocacy agencies
  • drug and alcohol treatment centres
  • homelessness projects

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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