2020 applicants
Undergraduate Course

BA Social Work

BA Social Work


The details
Social Work
October 2020
3 years
Southend Campus

Applications for 2020 entry are now closed.

Social work is all about people: it is an extremely rewarding and challenging profession. You’ll need to be hard working, adaptable, honest and, above all, passionate about finding long-term solutions and supporting positive changes for children, adults and families. You develop the skills, knowledge and understanding of how to support people to improve personal, practical, psychological and social aspects of their lives.

As a student of BA Social Work at Essex you experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests whilst being part of a multidisciplinary school. We provide you with an active and stimulating environment for your studies and the chance to really make a difference within an essential profession in today’s society.

A unique feature of our School of Health and Social Care is that many of our staff work with our Local Authorities and other local agencies, which enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and practice.

As a School, we specialise in applied, multidisciplinary research that addresses issues of national and international concern to health and social care policy and practice and related fields. We also host the NIHR Research Design Service for the East of England.

Placement Opportunities

Within the School of Health and Social Care, we value the experience and opportunity that a placement can give you. It is an intrinsic part of many of our courses. Within our BA Social Work you will do at least 170 days in practice placement during your time with us - you will even have the opportunity to do an international placement as part of this.

Our partnerships with placement providers ensure you gain effective, high-quality training, allowing you to gain experience working with children, adults, families and communities.

When you are on placement, the placement provider is expected to meet the travel costs incurred as a result of work carried as part of that placement (i.e. travel to meetings, etc). However, you will be expected to meet the costs of travel to and from placement.

Social Work students may be eligible to apply for the NHS Social Work bursary, which can be put towards paying for tuition fees, maintenance costs, or travel to placement. More information is available on the NHS BSA website.


Professional accreditation

Approved by Social Work England for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration as a social worker in England.

Why we're great.
  • Our partnerships with placement providers ensure you gain effective high-quality training.
  • You study a wide range of specialist areas to gain the broadest possible perspective.
  • We meet Social Work England's standards.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

A unique feature of our School of Health and Social Care is that our staff continue to work within social care and other local agencies, which enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, and the issues of current social work practice.

Gert Scheepers qualified as a social worker in 1990 in South Africa and has worked in both the UK and South Africa. Gert is the programme lead for our BA Social Work, and his field of expertise is Adult Social Care.

Stephen Jordan originally worked as a senior social work practitioner from 1988-2004 then from 2011-2014. He joined the school in 2014 and has recently completed his Professional Doctorate in Social work with the Tavistock and Portman/ UEL doctorate programme. The focus of his doctorate was the relationship between humour, jokes and social work. Stephen also sits on the panel of a local fostering agency. His field of expertise is Children and Families.

Full details of our staff can be found on the HSC Staff Profiles page.

Specialist facilities

The School of Health and Social Care is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building at our Colchester Campus and in the Gateway Building at our Southend Campus.

At Southend you will find purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of a growing and lively School. Social Work is currently taught in our Southend campus. The Forum, our landmark new education facility, houses our student support, finance, registry, IT services, and an integrated library.

We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials, and have simulation labs where you can practise developing your clinical skills safely, knowing that you are learning up-to-date and evidenced based practice from experienced registered practitioners.

Your future

97% of our School of Health and Social Care students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

GCSE: Mathematics and English C/4

Our published entry requirements are a guide and we welcome applications from those who have achieved one of the below qualifications with lower grades.

A-levels: BBB


Access to HE Diploma: 45 credits at Level 3 at merit or above

We also consider a range of vocational level 3 qualifications for entry and welcome applications from applicants who can demonstrate relevant work experience.

All applicants must have GCSE Mathematics and English C/4 (except those taking equivalent high school qualifications).

  • In place of GCSE Mathematics C/4, we can accept a number of level 2 qualifications, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or numeracy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma.
  • If you do not require a Tier 4 visa and are either a first language English speaker or have a lived in the UK for over three years, we can accept a number of level 2 qualifications, including Functional Skills level 2, Key Skills level 2 or literacy units taken as part of an Access to HE Diploma, in place of GCSE English C/4.

IB: 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 554, including Standard Level Mathematics grade 4 or Higher Level Mathematics grade 3

We are happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.

From 2021, we will accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.

Some paid or voluntary experience in health or social care in a relevant social care or child care/education setting is also required.

Additional requirements
You must also have a satisfactory Occupational Health Check and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - both of these are organised by the University.

You will also be required to register for the DBS Update Service (information relating to this service can be found here). You will need to register for this within 30 days of your DBS certificate being issued. The Update Service costs £13 per year, which the University will reimburse. You will need to keep the subscription to this Service active for the duration of your course.

If you do not register for the Update Service within 30 days, or your registration lapses, and you later attend a Placement where this is a requirement, you will have to pay for a new DBS check, which will enable you to sign up to the Update service. Please contact our DBS team if you have any questions relating to this.

A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

Application process
For 2020 entry, applicants must be aged 18 or over on 5 October 2020.

We welcome applications for Year Two and Year Three entry, but they must be submitted by 30 April 2020. These applications will need to go through the APEL process, as applicants are required to have studied a comparable first or second year at another institution and to have completed comparable Professional Capabilities through placements.

If your qualifications meet our requirements, you will be invited to attend a compulsory interview on one of our Applicant Days. The Applicant Day includes a written task, group discussion and individual interview in front of a panel.

Flexible offers
Eligible applicants that choose us as their firm choice by the relevant deadline will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements than those published here so, if your final grades aren’t what you had hoped for, you could still secure a place with us. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.


Example structure

This course consists of three years, each with a particular emphasis which reflects your development as a trainee social worker and the journey you take into becoming a professional practitioner.

Within the programme the central themes reflecting core values and principles of practice are always present; these include safeguarding and protection; evidence-based relational practice; inter-professional working; impact of practice; professional challenge; empowering service users autonomy; social justice and values; and equality and diversity.

These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students..

Introduction to Law and Social Policy

How does legislation and social policy inform social work practice? What are the foundations behind them? Explore the answers to these questions by looking at the core legislation in the areas children and young people, mental health, youth and adult justice safeguarding and protection and disability to develop your understanding.

View Introduction to Law and Social Policy on our Module Directory

Lifespan Development

From the moment we are born, we are constantly changing as we pass through different stages of development. You will explore the key phases of life, from infancy and childhood, adolescence to early adulthood, middle to old age and look at the interactions of lifespan development and social work practice.

View Lifespan Development on our Module Directory

Professional Skills 1

What are the theories that guide social work? How are they implemented in professional practice? You will look at number of contemporary theories and explore approaches such as problem solving, task-centred, solution-focussed, narrative therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, to help you develop a critical reflective understanding of social work practice.

View Professional Skills 1 on our Module Directory

Interpersonal Skills for Practice

Communication is not just about words. Other factors such as tone of voice, posture, gestures, behaviour and appearance can all impact on how we communicate and how others respond to us. By exploring these aspects of yourself you will understand how your behaviour, responses and feelings can impact on social work practice and the benefits that good interpersonal skills can bring to it.

View Interpersonal Skills for Practice on our Module Directory

Sociological and Psychological Frameworks

What role does social work play in our society? What is the basis for effective social work practice? How do social workers and service users see the world? You will explore the theories behind these three key aspects of social work to develop your understanding of the sociological and psychological frameworks behind the practice.

View Sociological and Psychological Frameworks on our Module Directory

Introduction to Research Methodologies

Evidence is vital to the practice of social work, where it is used to justify any decisions that are made that affect people’s lives. You will look at the ways in which research is conducted and how data is collected and interrogated to develop your understanding of the processes involved in the gathering of evidence.

View Introduction to Research Methodologies on our Module Directory

Legislation, Regulation and Ethics for Practice

What are the legal issues and ethical dilemmas that can arise in social work practice? How can you prepare for this eventuality? You will explore the answers to these questions and further develop your understanding of the role of social legislation previously established in module HS191. You will also explore the topics of domestic violence, immigration and immigration and welfare rights and housing in more detail.

View Legislation, Regulation and Ethics for Practice on our Module Directory

Professional Skills 2

What role does reflection and evidence based practice play in contemporary social work? How can collaborative working improve practice? Why is developing personal and professional resilience important? You will explore the answers to these questions by looking at a variety of models and perspectives to enhance your understanding and develop your own practice skills, building upon the foundations gained in module HS194 (Professional Skills 1).

View Professional Skills 2 on our Module Directory

Practice Placement 1

This module will help you prepare for your practice placement and support you throughout its duration. You will have the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills in a workplace setting and build on the taught elements of the course. You will also explore the concept of reflection and learn how to critically evaluate your own practice.

View Practice Placement 1 on our Module Directory

Emotional, Relational and Mental Health Issues

Social work practice can sometimes be difficult and challenging, particularly when dealing with emotional, relational or mental health issues. You will explore effective work strategies to help you develop the understanding, skills and confidence required to work in this area and the different approaches you can take to support others.

View Emotional, Relational and Mental Health Issues on our Module Directory

Independent Study

Through a combination of group sessions, 121 tutorials, tutor led input and skills and development sessions, you will develop the skills required to apply your knowledge and understanding and undertake a study of an extended piece of work relevant to social work practice.

View Independent Study on our Module Directory

Research Perspectives

When and how do social workers use research? Why is it essential for effective practice? You will study a range of perspectives in contemporary research, looking at objectives and methodologies to extend your knowledge and further develop your skills in critically appraising and applying research in practice.

View Research Perspectives on our Module Directory

Practice Interventions

Assessment and intervention are two fundamental skills required for effective social work practice. In this module, you will explore them in more detail. You will look at different theories, models and methods of intervention and develop your knowledge and understanding of assessment, analysis, making judgements and implementing intervention further.

View Practice Interventions on our Module Directory

Practice Placement 2

The focus of this placement will be on assessment. You will have the opportunity to use your knowledge and experience gained to date, to further develop your understanding of why assessment is at the core of social work practice and gain practical experience in this essential area.

View Practice Placement 2 on our Module Directory

Critical Reflection and Professional Challenge

Why are the principles of critical reflection and professional challenge such significant issues in contemporary social work practice? You will explore these core approaches to effective social work practice and look at the impact they have on collaborative working with other professionals.

View Critical Reflection and Professional Challenge on our Module Directory


  • First year modules reflect fundamental understanding and skills essential for social work practice
  • As required by the Social Work Reform Board you will undertake a minimum of 30 days of development including interpersonal and communication skills
  • Gain experience through a 5 day Child Study as part of Lifespan Development
  • Second year placement of 70 days in a non-statutory setting
  • You will be actively engaged with service users and carers who are experiencing issues related to their emotional and mental health
  • Undertake a 100 day assessed placement in a statutory agency
  • Explore your own practice and to develop further a specialist area of interest
  • This course combines University learning, e-learning and work-based learning to help you enhance your practice skills
  • Modules have their own accompanying webpages on Moodle where you can download relevant readings, power-points, podcasts and YouTube clips, and contribute to online discussions
  • We also work closely in partnership with the NHS and the independent health sector to provide placement opportunities


  • You are assessed by a combination of practical examinations, viva voce examinations, essays, reflective writing and poster and seminar presentations, practice-based learning assessment and practical examinations in the academic setting

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


EU students commencing their course in the 2020-21 academic year will be liable for the Home/UK fee.

International fee


Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Interview and tests

If you’re shortlisted for interview based on your application, you will be invited onto campus. During this visit you will complete a written test, group discussion and an interview. You’ll be sent a written exercise prior to your visit and will be asked questions around this during the test and the group discussion. Following this, you’ll be given a panel interview. The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. For applicants who are not based in the UK, we are able to offer interviews by Zoom and remote testing. Offers for the course will only be made after a successful interview.

Your interview and test will form part of a larger visit day where you’ll be able to tour our campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex. All tests must be taken on our Southend Campus.

Southend Campus

Visit Southend Campus

With its lively, state-of-the-art facilities and a close-knit international community, Southend is the perfect environment for living and learning.

If you're joining our School of Health and Social Care, East 15 Acting School, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, or Essex Business School, you may well be studying at our Southend Campus.

Famous for its beach resort and pier, Southend-on-Sea stretches along seven miles of award-winning coastline, providing plenty of opportunities for a wide range of water sports and leisure activities.


Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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