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

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

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus, where possible, teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. However, some courses do require some face-to-face learning and therefore virtual study will not be possible. Course specific information can be found below.

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?

For the 2020 academic year, we have been focusing on delivering a quality education and ensuring that your teaching and learning can continue despite the disruption.  The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online/ virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.  We are committed to ensuring that you are not disadvantaged in any way by the pandemic.   

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced wifi provision across our campuses.

Online resources will enable you to learn through a variety of stimulating activities that suit different learning styles. These online resources will be complemented by live, interactive teaching sessions in small groups, when appropriate and safe, at which you can receive feedback from your lecturers and deepen your knowledge of core course materials.

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.

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. We are working to ensure that a large percentage of all our courses are online. However, 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.  The majority of your teaching will be available virtually, and this means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. 

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes

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 also running a COVID-19 rapid testing programme for students and staff at our three campuses in Colchester, Southend and Loughton.  We are asking that all students who are attending face-to-face teaching to have two COVID-19 tests before they come onto campus.  If for whatever reason you are concerned about this, or it is difficult for you to do son, 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.

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 on our 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.

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