Social Work BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)

Cambridge, Chelmsford


You can choose to study this course over four years, with a foundation year. If you choose this option, the first year of your study will be delivered by our partner, Cambridge Ruskin International College (CRIC) on our Cambridge campus. In years 2 to 4 you have the option to study with us in Chelmsford or Cambridge.


Thrive on a challenge and passionate about making a difference? Our full-time Social Work degree could be for you. Study in Cambridge and Chelmsford and develop your skills through a variety of placements. Our three year degree is approved by Social Work England (SWE) so, when you graduate, you’ll be able to register as a social worker. Unlock the door to a rewarding career where you empower adults and children to be at their best.

Full description


Our course is approved by SWE, which makes it a professional qualification in social work. When you graduate, you’ll be able to apply to register with SWE as a social worker.

As a social worker, you’ll be at the forefront of helping the people most in need. You could work with a range of people, who are facing a range of issues, in a public, private or charitable organisation. You could even work independently. Increasingly, social workers work closely in teams with professionals from other disciplines. Your placements will have given you experience of working both with adults and children, by the end of the course you will have a better idea of the area you are most interested in.

Our course will prepare you for working in a variety of settings, many of which can be as rewarding as they are challenging. You’ll learn to work safely and within the law, and develop a wide range of transferable skills, including case management and communication skills. Examples of settings our graduates work in include the YMCA, learning disability charities, family centres and county or city councils. Different services our graduates are involved in are adult safeguarding, youth offender, adult in needs, children protection, fostering and adoption. Read our graduates' employability case studies for more details.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Social Work
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in courses related to social work. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including thinking critically, researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate numeracy and ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will also be introduced to specific concepts related to their degree programmes including the structure of health and social care provision in the United Kingdom, and the various professional roles with the sector. Students will also be introduced to intercultural studies. Students will practice applying theoretical frameworks to case studies and experiments. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Critical Thinking; Core Maths; Ethics; Psychology; Intercultural Studies; Preparing for a Career in Caring.

Year one, core modules

  • Assessed Readiness for Direct Practice
    This module will prepare you for undertaking your first placement by making sure that you have experienced appropriate preparation opportunities. This includes an assessment of 'Readiness to Practice' before you start your first placement. The module does not attract any credits.
  • Ethics, Values and the Legal Context of Social Work
    The purpose of the module is to give you a broad understanding of the centrality of ethics and values to the profession. You will also consider the tensions and conflicts that are linked to the legal context within which the social work profession must operate.
  • Knowledge, Evidence and Practice
    You will reflect on how knowledge is created and applied in the activity of social work. This module prepares you to evaluate the quality of knowledge whether as evidence, research or in the interpretation of professional practice.
  • Communication Skills and Key Theories Applied to Social Work Practice
    You will be introduced to key theory and concepts relating to communication in its different forms. You will study how these might be used in practice situations.
  • Social Work in Society
    This module will help you understand how service users' lives are influenced by their social and policy context. Poverty, inequality and social exclusion are key factors shaping the lives of most of the people that social workers engage with in their practice and you will gain a good understanding of these topics.

Year two, core modules

  • Social Work with Adults
    This module will give you an overview of five key areas of social work with adults: mental health, disability, age, gender and culture. You will examine the inter-relationships between these dimensions and the notion of safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
  • Social Work with Children and Families
    This module provides you with an understanding of the context of child and family intervention and how to recognise signs, symptoms and consequences of child abuse.
  • Powers, Duties and Accountability in Social Work
    You will be required to examine and evaluate the sources of professional power, structures of accountability and their duties when making professional decisions and judgements. This module will give priority to duties relating to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. You’ll also undertake a placement of 70 days in a social work setting.
  • Practice 1: Communications Skills and Partnership Working
    This practice module helps you learn how to critically analyse and put communications and partnership skills into practice. You will aim to maximise the choices available to people who have faced difficulties in society, including abuse, disadvantage, discrimination, marginalisation and poverty.
  • 70-day placement
    You will normally be placed in a private, voluntary or independent sector agency where you will undertake direct work with people who are vulnerable or have particular needs. The focus will be on engagement, assessment, interpersonal skills and gaining an understanding of the core elements of the social work role.

Year three, core modules

  • Wellbeing Across the Life Course
    This module provides an opportunity for you to examine different dimensions of well-being, in particular, mental health and social inequalities in health. You will also undertake a 100-day placement in a social work setting.
  • Transition into Professional Practice
    This module prepares you for transition into the Assessed and Supported Year in Social Work (ASYE) of professional social work practice. It will help you gain critically informed insights about the implications of powers, duties and responsibilities arising from both the internal and external environments.
  • Practice 2: Analytical Thinking and Decision-Making
    This module will help you develop the understanding and skills needed to undertake effective assessments and care plans that lead to appropriate interventions. You’ll be able to critique and analyse different approaches to assessment and intervention.
  • 100 - Day Placement
    You will normally be placed in a statutory related setting, such as a Local Authority Social Work team, where you will work under the direct supervision of a Qualified Social Worker and undertake assessments and interventions as part of formal or statutory processes. This will include risk assessment, safeguarding and the appropriate use of authority.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The undergraduate major project enables you to raise and address significant questions relating to your chosen topic/issue. You will be supported by a tutor with similar interests and research profile. This module requires autonomous study and it is your chance to demonstrate that you have met our University’s expectations and are ready to graduate.

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change and availability.


Assessments are your opportunity to show the skills and knowledge that you are gaining in your journey to become a social worker. We use a variety of assessment methods which include assignments, presentations, learning journals, portfolios, patchwork texts (short pieces of writing, or ‘patches’, built up week-by-week), poster design and placements.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

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Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

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Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Up to £500 for travel. 

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK and EU students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Foundation year entry requirements

  • GCSE maths and English at grade 4 or C
  • 5 GCSE passes in total at grade 3 or D or above and evidence of two years post-GCSE study at Level 3
  • If you have achieved at least grade E in one A level, or equivalent, you are exempt from the two year post-GCSE study requirement, but you still have to meet the GCSE requirements
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificate level of proficiency of at least IELTS 5.5 overall including 5.5 in each band/component

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

This course is not currently available to international students.

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