School of Health and Social Care

Undergraduate study

Skeleton in a lab

Committed to improving lives

Got mettle, zeal and bold ambition? Got a heart of gold? Thrive on advocating for others?

Then the School of Health and Social Care at Essex is the right place for you. We're a lively, supportive community of students and staff who're passionate about progressing knowledge in our field. We're looking for the change-makers of the future - people who're prepared to evaluate and challenge current practice to improve patient and customer experience.

Depending on which of our undergraduate courses you choose, you could be using your Social Work skills to support refugees in Cyprus or learning about healthcare in Melbourne, Australia*. All of our undergraduate courses include placement opportunities which benefit our local communities, and some offer the option to study abroad for a year too. Alternatively if traditional study isn't for you, we offer apprenticeships in health science and nursing.

*Please note that these courses may be subject to additional costs.

Explore our Undergraduate courses
Why choose us?
  • 97% of our School of Health and Social Care students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020)
  • We're the first department in the University to have been awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award for gender equality
  • We have state-of-the-art teaching facilities including mock wards at both campuses

COVID-19 and Teaching in Health and Social Care

Where can I find information about how the University of Essex is managing COVID-19 and keeping our campuses safe?

The information below is specific to the courses in the School of Health and Social Care.  Throughout the pandemic, the safety of our community has been our top priority.  For advice on how the University is managing COVID-19 and keeping our campuses COVID secure, take a look at the relevant links below:

  • If you are an applicant, we know you are likely to be concerned about how COVID-19 will impact on your application and what it may be like when you start your course with us -  check out our applicant pages here
  • If you are a current student, it's important you know how we are keeping you safe on campus, and how to access support during these challenging times - head over to our student pages.
  • If you are a member of staff, the COVID-19 pages on the staff directory provide lots of useful information.

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

For the academic year 2021-22, we have been able to deliver more of our teaching in-person and on-campus.  We remain optimistic that the vaccine rollout in the UK will mean that the pandemic will be under control, and that we will be able to continue delivering as much face-to-face teaching as is possible.  However, the health and wellbeing of our community is a priority, so we may have to adapt to any new disruption we may face, for example, as a result of new variants.  Please take a look at the main University of Essex COVID-19 pages for further information about university-wide measures we are putting in place to make blended learning happen effectively for all. 

We have been working closely with our practice partners, placement providers and professional bodies to ensure that we are able to offer you excellent practice learning opportunities that enable you to develop practice skills and values that will equip you for your career.

Placement settings may look and feel slightly different as each provider responds to the pandemic. This may mean that some of your placement tasks are undertaken in ways that are different from previous cohorts, however, full training and PPE will be provided whilst we prepare you for placement

What will this mean for my learning experience?

As you know, the delivery of health and social care provision is ever evolving, and currently new ways of practicing are being developed daily. When you are on placement, you will experience this first hand, engaging in and contributing to innovative new ways of service delivery and being equipped for health and care provision of the future. Your practice placements will provide exceptional opportunities for reflection and research that will no doubt support and enhance your academic learning.

Please take a look at the main University of Essex COVID-19 pages for further information about university-wide measures we are putting in place to make blended learning happen effectively for all. 

Will I be able to study off campus for the whole year?

All of our courses have a placement component and students will be required to attend these placements. For 2021 entry and continuing students, our courses take a blended approach, and we deliver as much in-person as we can.  Our courses are accredited and regulated by professional and regulatory bodies to include face to face teaching, and not to be fully delivered online. Whilst these bodies have shown flexibility, you will still need to attend campus for some parts of your training, particularly for clinical and professional skills training. Your health and well-being is our priority and we will put in place procedures to keep you safe. If you are unable to attend campus or placements at this current time, for whatever reason, please contact your programme director who will discuss options with you.

What happens if the situation changes during my time at Essex?

As the restrictions across the UK and locally are reviewed on a frequent basis, we are continuing to ensure that the delivery of all teaching is flexible and responsive to these changes.  Please take a look at the main University of Essex COVID-19 pages for further information about how will manage our courses and campuses to be COVID secure.

What will my broader student experience in the School and on campus be like?

We are fortunate to have a close-knit School environment, where there is an open door policy and you will frequently see students and staff gathered over a coffee –these things can and will still happen, they may just take a little planning.

We know that for many of you, placement takes up a lot of your time, and that isn’t likely to change. As students that undertake regular placements, off-campus learning is already a significant part of your student experience. You will continue to have the opportunity to connect with your peers in both our face-to-face and online sessions together.

You  will  be  able  to  get  regular  help  and  advice  from  your  lecturers,  and will  have  contact  with  your lecturers in the live teaching sessions and during tutorials as part of each module. You will also be able to arrange to speak to your lecturers on an individual basis during their weekly academic support hours. You will receive clear information at the start of the year about lecturers’ availability and our student support programme.  You will also be allocated a personal tutor who will provide you with support.

We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life.

To learn more about the range of events Essex will be hosting, please visit our events calendar. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit your campus, view our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority.  This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus, we have introduced the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students. 

We are asking all students who attend face-to-face sessions to have two negative COVID-19 tests 3 days apart, with the last test being no more the 24hrs prior to the planned teaching session. We are running a COVID-19 rapid testing programme for students and staff at our three campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton.  Alternatively, you may prefer to complete a home test.  Home tests can be ordered for free via the government website.  If for whatever reason you are concerned about this, or it is difficult for you to do so, please make contact with your programme lead or Personal Tutor.

There are a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them.

These include:

  • Medical support and healthcare (and our online mental health programme SilverCloud)
  • Mental and emotional health support
  • Personalised advice and support from the Student Services Hub

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions.

To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

Within our School you will be assigned an Personal Tutor, who will be your key contact point throughout your time with us. If you are concerned about your academic progress, or are worried about managing your deadlines, then you can always talk to them.

Vaccination and studying in our School

As you may be aware, the UK government is introducing legislation requiring all health and social care staff working in sites regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they are medically exempt from this requirement.  The legislation will equally apply to all students undertaking practice placements in affected settings during the course of their studies on any healthcare programme.

In the School of Health and Social Care, this includes students on the following courses:

  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health Nursing)
  • BSc Occupational Therapy
  • BSc Speech and Language Therapy
  • BA Social Work
  • FdSc Oral Health Science
  • BSc Oral Health Science
  • MSc Occupational Therapy
  • MSc Speech and Language Therapy
  • Ma Social Work
  • Graduate Certificate and Postgraduate Certificate Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
  • Professional Doctorate Clinical Psychology

Healthcare providers who accept our students for practice placements are affected by this legislation.  This means it will be very unlikely for a student who is not vaccinated to access the breadth of practice placements required for them to complete their studies and be eligible to apply for UK registration as a health or social care professional.  Support and information is available to help make decisions about Covid-19 vaccination but all applicants should be aware that they could ultimately be required to withdraw from their studies if they choose not to be vaccinated in line with current government requirements in time for placement allocation.  You can also find helpful information regarding the vaccination requirement on the NHS Employers website.

If you live in the UK, and you believe you may be medically exempt please use the NHS app to download your evidence and be prepared to show this to us when you register for the course.  Further information about medical exemption is available on the website.

If you have been vaccinated outside the UK, please check the UK Government’s guidance about approved COVID-19 vaccinations and proof of vaccination.  As well as being vaccinated for placements, you will need proof of vaccination to travel to the UK.  If you do not qualify as fully vaccinated or if you have recently been in a red list country or territory, you will need to follow Government guidelines on arrival.  Please be aware that if you plan to be vaccinated in the UK on your arrival, you will need to plan sufficient time between your vaccinations being administered, and your placements being allocated.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation with this matter.

So, what do we have to offer?

Study abroad and placements years

Did you know that if you are thinking of studying either BSc Nursing (Adult) or BSc Nursing (Mental Health) you have the option of extending your course to four years, and spending your third year abroad?

If you're planning on studying BSc Speech and Language Therapy, you also have the option of extending your course to four years.  In your third year, you can either take placement year, or your could study abroad.

For those of you who are interested in studying BA Social Work, once you have started the course, you can apply for the opportunity to swap one of your second year placements to an international placement.  Previously students have enjoyed completing their placement in Cyprus working with refugees.  This has given them a unique insight to the challenges faced by refugees.

Doing a placement year or studying abroad is a great way to expand your knowledge and skills set, which in turn may give you a new perspective for your final year research project.  It will also give you something extra to talk about when you apply for jobs, as you'll be able to compare and contrast your experiences.

Find out more about studying abroad here.

Diversity of placements

Our School is well supported by our dedicated placements team.  This team look after finding appropriate placements for our undergraduate and postgraduate preregistration and Social Work students.  This means we are able to offer a wide range of placements across various settings in the East of England.  This is great news for our students as it means we are able to ensure a diversity of experiences.

Getting you ready for life after graduation

Studying with us is about gaining more than just a qualification.  We aim to prepare you for your career in health and social care, and will emphasise developing your leadership and research skills.

We want you to leave Essex feeling equipped to drive forward knowledge, practice and policy in your field, regardless of where you choose to work.

Making your application

Places courses here at Essex are in high demand. To give yourself the best chance of securing your place here, we recommend you consider the following:

How much do I know about the course?

It's important to us that you know what you're signing up for. We'd expect that you've read our course pages carefully, and have done plenty of research about both life at Essex and the careers associated with our courses.

Working in health and social care can be highly rewarding, but like any sector, it also comes with its challenges. It's important that you have an awareness of these challenges, and are up to speed with current issues. We'd recommend you keep up with health and social care news, and subject appropriate journals and magazines , e.g Nursing Times, Community Care, etc. If you are at school or college, you may find they already have a subscription that you can access.

If you're thinking about applying for Nursing, you may like to take a look at Future learn's free MOOC 'Introduction to Nursing: Bioscience, Psychology and Sociology'.  This course aims to give you a clear understanding of nursing and where a career in nursing can lead.


How can I demonstrate that I have what it takes?

You'll notice that many of our courses are underpinned by the NHSConstitution, as well as our own Essex values. The NHS Constitution is an important document which establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England. 

This document very clearly explains that the patient is at the heart of everything the NHS does. We take this commitment seriously, and so are looking for people who have the potential to be future healthcare superstars.

Many of our courses are a blend of both theory and practice, so we also need to hear from you about both your academic and practical skills.

Think carefully about how your experiences have prepared you for some of the challenges of the course, and how they can make you stand out from the crowd. For example, if you've worked in retail, you're likely to have developed your communication skills, so you may be able to talk about this.

My course requires an interview.  What can I do to prepare?

For many people, the idea of being interviewed is quite daunting. There's no need to panic. We're on your side.

We aim to use the interview process to get to know you and to find out your plans for the future. Our interview panels are led by our staff, and may include students, service users, and local placement partners. Many of the panel will have been through a similar process at some point in their career, so they'll appreciate you'll probably be feeling nervous. Try to relax (as best as you can) and think of it more as a discussion with colleagues about why you'd like to join us.

For Nursing, our interview questions are structured around the four themes of the NMC code:

  • prioritise people
  • practice effectively
  • preserve safety
  • promote professionalism and trust.

For Social Work, our interview will also include discussing a case study.  Further information about the case study will be included in the information we send to you in advance.  Please make sure you read this carefully, and give yourself time to prepare.  We also recommend that you read up on the role of social workers, and the values and ethics of the profession:  BASW, Social Care Institute for Excellence and Social Work England are a good starting point!

For some Oral Health Science courses, we will invite you to do a literacy and numeracy test.  We will send you information about how this takes place in advance.  Please make sure you read the information carefully.  If you have a documented educational need, then you may be entitled to specific access arrangements for the literacy and numeracy tests. If you think that this applies to you, please contact our admissions teams as soon as possible but at least one week prior to your interview:

My course requires an English and or Maths test.  What do I need to revise?

Please check the entry requirements for your course carefully to see if you will be required to do a literacy or numeracy test.  If you do, you may find the following resources helpful.  Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of topics, but a starting point to help you prepare.


The literacy test will assess your reading and writing skills.  A variety of questions may cover the following areas:


  • Spelling
  • Grammar and syntax
  • Presenting information in a logical sequence
  • Vocabulary
  • Punctuation
  • Common prefixes
  • Free writing


  • Proofreading
  • Comprehension
  • Fact or opinion?


The numeracy test will assess your ability to apply number, to use measurements and to handle data. Calculators can be used. Question topics may include:


  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Fractions, decimals and percentages -  calculations, conversions and equivalencies


  • Time, weight, distance, volume, money and conversion of units

Handling data

  • Extracting information from tables, diagrams, charts or graphs.

Feeling anxious about your numeracy or literacy skills? Don't worry, once you are here, we have lots of support in place. Hear more from Karen Hudson, our Literacy and Numeracy Tutor, by watching the video below. 

Does the university have practise tests I can do?

To help you prepare for our literacy and numeracy tests, we have a selection of resources for you to use, but we no longer provide practise tests.



Mobile apps

There are a number of apps that can help you to develop your literacy and numeracy skills. The following are all free to use. In-app purchases are possible, but are neither required nor endorsed by the University of Essex, and the University cannot answer any queries relating to their use.

  • Elevate
  • Learndirect
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