Social Work placements

Placements are an essential element of Social Work degree and our students tell us it’s one of the most enjoyable parts, putting what they have learned into practice.

Constituting 50% of the course, placements provide opportunities to apply and develop your knowledge, skills and values in a practice setting that will provide experience of statutory social work.  Placements provide you with the opportunity to work towards meeting the requirements of the Professional Standards and the Knowledge and Skills Statements. It is crucial that you are prepared for this and during your study you’ll be supported and prepared ahead for your placement.  

  • Full-time BA students, will undertake 70 days of placement in the second year of study and 100 days of placement in the third year of study. 
  • Part-time BA students at Peterborough will undertake 70 days in the second year and 100 days in the fourth year.
  • MA students undertake the initial 70 days in their first year and 100 days in their second year. 

All students will need to pass both placements, alongside all academic modules, in order to qualify for registration as a Social Worker with Social Work England. 
There is a dedicated placements team that will work closely with you to plan for both placements.

Placement Overview


For students enrolled on Cambridge and Peterborough campuses, we have a teaching partnership with local partners including Peterborough City Council and Cambridge County Council and other partners (e.g. CAFCASS). You’ll most likely be matched locally as this is where our placement providers will be centralised. If you are a student at our Chelmsford campus we also collaborate with Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council.
We also place students regularly with Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council but we have an incredibly limited number of placements within London are. 

Time commitment

You should plan for 4–5 day weekly commitment for the full-time courses plus private study and research. Our part-time course is likely to require attendance of 2-3 days weekly during placement period plus private study and research. 

Travel to your Placement

You’ll be expected to travel to placement to a location that is no more than 1.5 hours of travel from your home location. If you live outside the local county, for instance in Birmingham and enrolled to Peterborough campus, the travel time to placement will be measured from your campus of study, however, we will endeavour to work with you to find a closer placement, however, this cannot be guaranteed.  Our placement providers are primarily located within the local county. 

1st Placement (70 days)

Students will have an opportunity to integrate theory and practice in their assessment and intervention when working with individuals, families, carers, groups or communities. They will be able to reflect upon their own values and beliefs and confront any conflict with the principles and values underpinning social work practice, guided in supervision. There are opportunities to advocate for what is in the best interests of the service user, promoting service user voice and encouraging their independent choices. Tasks such as interviewing service users to gather information, reviewing of care plans, undertaking home visits, needs versus risk assessments will be undertaken to promote relationship based practice. Students will be guided to develop and understand the process of critical reflection and evaluation as a tool for improving professional practice. 

2nd Placement (100 days)

In this final placement, students will be expected to undertake more complex tasks do demonstrate their developing knowledge, skills and values building on what they will have done in their first placement. Tasks can include completing a single assessment or life story work, as an example, if working in a children’s team or, undertaking a Mental  Capacity Act (2005) assessment if working in an adult’s team. Much longer pieces of work are assigned to deepen and sharpen social work skills in readiness for qualifying as newly qualified social workers. Students will engage with assessment, intervention and the management of risk within complex situations alongside developing an ability to manage and be accountable for their own social work practice in an organisational setting, making competent use of supervision and support.

Support on placement

Practice Educator (PE)

You’ll be assigned a Practice Educator.  Practice Educators will support you during your training and assess your practice over the duration of the placement.  Practice Educators are Social Workers trained in the teaching and assessment of students on practice placements and meet the Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS). Their role is to support you in integrating theory and knowledge from university into practice and are responsible for the assessment of your practice.

Placement Tutor (PT)

The Placement Tutor will also be a critical support person for you on placement. They are a member of the university.  Most of the placement tutors are academics within the Social Work Team, so you will know them. The PT will attend meetings at the placement site to ensure that the placement is set up in a way that will meet the student’s learning needs, and the university’s requirements. They are also there to support the student if they have any difficulties during the placement and are therefore the first point of contact for the student for all placement related matters.