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 UG graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2023)
  • 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

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.


We offer a range of higher and degree apprenticeships that allow healthcare staff to upskill while continuing to work in the NHS.

Apprenticeships include Healthcare Assistant Practitioner, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, and Nursing Associate.

Application cycles for apprenticeships and the number of places available may differ from a standard university degree so do check carefully if you're thinking of applying.

View HSC apprenticeships

Making your application

Places for 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, we would like to hear about your interests, and 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!

I would like to look at some Numeracy and Literacy resources, where can I find these?

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.

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 support your numeracy and literacy skills, we have a selection of resources for you to use, but we no longer have tests or provide practice 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
Chat with Nkiruka, a BSc Nursing (Mental Health) student

Want to know more about BSc Nursing (Mental Health) through someone who has experience studying at the University of Essex? Speak to a 2nd year student below.

Chat with Nkiruka

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?

With national COVID infection levels reducing, and with the NHS offering antibody and antiviral treatments to people with coronavirus (COVID-19) who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill, Government COVID restrictions have come to an end and, as a society, we are learning to manage our lives as we move into the next phase of managing COVID-19. The University is therefore now in a position to lift our COVID-19-related restrictions on campus. This means the majority of our spaces and events will run at full capacity, with appropriate ventilation in place. From 3 May 2022, it will be a matter of personal choice whether to wear a face covering around campus. As face coverings will be a matter of personal choice, this might include keeping a mask in your pocket and wearing it when others would prefer you to, for example, if they are wearing a mask and social distancing is not possible.

If you receive a positive COVID result, there is no legal requirement asking you to isolate but it is likely that you will be infectious to others. We are asking therefore that you avoid contact with others for five days after the day you took the test.

If you have a respiratory infection, a high temperature or do not feel well enough to study, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you no longer have a temperature or feel unwell. This will help to reduce infection transmission on our campuses. When deciding whether you are fit for study, please be mindful of the potential impact of symptoms that create a significant transmission risk for other people.

If there are future COVID outbreaks in particular areas, based on clinical advice and appropriate risk assessments, we may need to reintroduce additional infection control mitigations. These could include face coverings, testing and making additional recommendations for individuals depending on their circumstances. We will inform you should this be the case.

We are also asking people to continue with frequent handwashing or using hand sanitiser where available (handwashing is a good basic infection control mechanism rather than preventing transmission of COVID). People who have mild cold or other symptoms may also wish to wear a mask.

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 to pre-pandemic 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, if this is the case, and where appropriate, full training and PPE will be provided whilst we prepare you for placement.

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

Most of our courses have a placement component and students will be required to attend these placements. For 2022 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 Government restrictions have now been lifted, we think it is unlikely that the situation will change during your time at Essex. However, should this become an eventuality, we would be responsive to these changes. Please take a look at the main University of Essex COVID-19 pages  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. Our campuses are operating at full capacity for the majority of spaces and events, so you will be able to enjoy our usual Essex hustle and bustle!

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?

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 revoked legislation in 2022 that required 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.

This legislation would have applied to all students undertaking practice placements in affected settings during the course of their studies on any healthcare programme. However, this is no longer the case.

We continue to encourage applicants to be vaccinated before their arrival with us to protect themselves, their friends and families, their classmates, our staff, and those they will be working with on placement.

Some placement providers have indicated that they still require students on placement to be vaccinated for their own and others safety.