Social Work

Social Work - BA (Hons)

UCAS code L508:K

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


Social work is about changing lives for the better. Our degree has been designed with professional practice in mind, helping you to develop the knowledge and practical skills you need to become a confident, competent social work practitioner.


The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research is one of the best in the country for teaching and research. You are taught by qualified social workers with diverse practical experience who are active in research and scholarship.

This programme is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). 

Our degree programme

Your first year introduces the key skills and knowledge you need to qualify and practise as a social worker. Modules cover a wide range of subjects including communication and interpersonal skills, the English legal system, lifespan development, sociological theory, and values, ethics and diversity.

In your second and final years, you gain a thorough understanding of issues and trends in adult services and social care for children and families. You critically examine how to work with individuals experiencing mental distress, and the role of mental health services. You must also complete a 70-day practice learning placement and five skills development days.

Your learning covers a range of subjects from partnership working and advanced interventions to critical and reflective practice. Your final year includes an additional 100 days of practice learning and five skills development days.

Extra activities

The Social Studies Society is run by Kent students for anyone with an interest in Criminology, Sociology, Law, Social Policy, Economics and Politics. Events in the past have included:

  • research seminars and webcasts
  • career development workshops
  • informal lectures by guest experts followed by group discussion.

Independent rankings

In The Guardian University Guide 2019, 86% of final-year Social Work students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

For graduate prospects, Social Work at Kent scored 92 out of 100 in The Complete University Guide 2019.

Of Social Work students who graduated in 2017 and completed a national survey, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

In this module students will be introduced to concepts of professionalism and 'relationship' in social work and the role of self-monitoring and reflection. They will learn about, discuss and practise a range of communication and interpersonal skills. These will include: the commencement of effective contacts with service users and colleagues; active listening and attending skills; the role of non-verbal communication; empathy; effective use of questions; paraphrasing and summarising; challenging constructively and managing conflict; the use of electronic and telephone communication; and working with people with special communication needs. Students will also explore the use of feedback in the classroom and in professional practice and supervision.

In addition the module will introduce students to the theoretical underpinnings of models of personal and professional communication. They will also be encouraged to explore and reflect on the application of social work values and will analyse the impact of inequality, power and diversity in relation to engaging with the experiences of others.

View full module details

The module will begin with a general introduction to lifespan approaches and subsequently address the following areas incorporating multiple perspectives on each topic (biological/medical, cognitive, developmental, psychodynamic, social, humanistic and other prominent approaches, focusing specifically on bio-psychosocial approaches):

• Development in early childhood.

• Relationship between brain development and attachment in infancy.

• Childhood development influences on later life.

• Early socialisation.

• Cognitive development and learning in middle/later childhood.

• Social factors: education, gender roles and gender stereotypes, child abuse, and children in care.

• Theories of adolescence: identity and transitions, biological, emotional, social and cultural influences in adolescence

View full module details

This module will introduce students to why social workers need to know the law; how laws are made and classified; natural law and positivist law and their intersection with ethics and philosophy; the sources and context of English law; and the 'legal framework' of English social work including legislation, quasi-legislation and social policy.

An introduction will be provided to the primary and secondary legislation and guidance and the cases that together constitute ‘the law’ relating to: children and families; youth justice; adults - including those with a learning disability, a physical disability and who are vulnerable as a consequence of age related ill health & carers; and mental health work.

Students will consider the application of legislation as it relates to social work activities, duties and decisions including Case Law, the role and nature of Courts and the legal profession, legal procedure, and the nature of evidence including forensic vs therapeutic interventions. They will be introduced to Human Rights and equality law with a particular focus on justice and the promotion of equality in the areas of "race", gender and sexual orientation, disability and age. They will also consider safeguarding, mental capacity law, confidentiality and responsible information handling.

View full module details

Students will explore definitions of social policy, need and social problems, the concept of the welfare state – including a historical overview from Social Democracy to the New Right and 'The Third way', and a comparison of ‘welfare types’.

They will study poverty, social need, patterns of inequality and their impact, the policy context in relation to trends in family life and family problems, the role of feminism in shaping social policy, the gendered nature of domestic violence, and policy around domestic violence from the crisis to the multi-agency approaches of the late 1990s. Key themes and perspectives in child care policy will be explored, including the tensions between the philosophies of ‘child rescue’ and ‘family support’, and New Labour and the ‘social investment’ approach.

Students will examine ethics and risk in relation to social policy, including the ethical considerations that impact on people’s lives as recipients and providers of services, and the concepts of rationing, targeting and entitlement. They will consider health inequalities and the impact of key variables of gender, ethnicity and social class on patterns of health inequality. Ageing as a social issue will be explored, and the idea of Community Care and a reliance on the community and more informal care. Students will also consider the causes of youth unemployment and policy responses, youth offending and youth justice policies, and will explore the tensions between ‘care’ and ‘control’ and public protection.

View full module details

The module will introduce students to the three main theoretical perspectives in sociology: functionalism, symbolic interactionism & conflict theories; the role of sociological theory in social work practice; and putting theory into reflexive social work practice. Students will explore theories of power, including the distribution and production of power, how power works, and Weberian and Foucauldian theory.

The social locations of gender, ethnicity, social class, disability, sexuality and age will be examined. Students will consider formations of identity, recognising and respecting difference in relation to race and ethnicity, social divisions, social class and stratification, and 'difference as a deficit'.

The module will also explore contemporary theories of the ‘family’, households and domestic life; themes and perspectives relating to community, and community work and social work; the sociology of childhood in relation to social work; the sociology of health and illness, and mental health and illness; crime and deviance and the dilemmas of caring and controlling; modern organisations, power, authority and the role of social work in a changing professional and policy environment; and the sociology of ‘risk’ as a unit idea in sociology and its importance in understanding the focus on risk in social work practice.

View full module details

In this module students will be introduced to key aspects of the nature and contemporary context of social work, including the defining characteristics of social work, key terms in social work, and foundation concepts underpinning social work practice. Students will consider the development of social work as a profession, its socio-political location and the various roles social workers may undertake in their work and in society in general, gaining an initial awareness of the complexity and contested nature of the social work role.

Students will be introduced to the nature of problems and needs that may lead to social work support and intervention. A range of approaches to service delivery in the statutory and private and voluntary sectors will be considered and discussed

View full module details

In this module students will be introduced to the dialogue between theory, current context, values and practice models, and they will also learn about the assessment process in social work. A number of theories, approaches and methods will be introduced to the students, including systemic, psychodynamic, person-centred, task-centred, cognitive behavioural, postmodern, constructionist, strengths-based, solution focused and narrative approaches and crisis intervention models.

Students will be encouraged to consider and evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of the theoretical approaches in practice, apply evidence from national and international research, and discuss service user perspectives. They will consider the theories and approaches in relation to principles of partnership, empowerment and anti-oppressive practice.

View full module details

The module will encourage students to develop their capacities to respect and promote each person as an individual, the independence and quality of life of individuals whilst protecting them from harm, and the dignity and privacy of individuals, families, carers, groups and communities. During the module students will also examine the importance of recognising and facilitating the use of language and form of communication of each person’s choice and value, and recognising and respecting the diversity, expertise and experience of individuals, families, carers, groups and communities. They will explore how to maintain the trust and confidence of individuals, families, carers, groups and communities by communicating in an open, accurate and understandable way, and discuss strategies to challenge discrimination, disadvantage and other forms of inequality and injustice.

The module will cover the nature, historical evolution and application of social work values, the concept of professionalism and the role of codes of practice and ethics, and the moral concepts of human rights, responsibility, freedom, authority and power inherent in the practice of social workers as moral and statutory agents. Students will be introduced to the complex relationships between justice, care and control in social welfare and the practical and ethical implications of these, including social workers’ roles as statutory agents and in upholding the law. They will consider aspects of philosophical ethics relevant to the understanding and resolution of value dilemmas and conflicts in both inter-personal and professional contexts. The importance of recognising key dimensions of social difference and sources of inequality – class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age and disability – in delivering ethical social work practice will also be a key focus of the module.

View full module details

The module ensures that each student is 'ready for direct practice' before they embark on their first placement in the second stage of their studies as required by the accrediting professional body. Students are required to complete all elements of this module, including attendance at University-based sessions, in order to pass the module.

The skills development activities will include both class-based and guided independent activities undertaken by students.

Class-based activities will encourage the development of skills used in communication, observation and reflection, and relating theory and practice. This will enable students to practise and further develop the skills and knowledge they are learning in other modules that form part of the ‘Readiness for Direct Practice’ assessment, in particular SO307 Communication and Interpersonal Skills and SO313 Social Work Theories, Interventions and Skills.

Learning activities within modules and skills development days will also address the importance of professional behaviour and boundaries, awareness of values and diversity in social work, an initial awareness of risk and safeguarding, the role of professional supervision, and the importance of emotional resilience in social work.

Students will also develop their awareness of the perspectives of service users and carers, and will gain understanding of the context of social work and how social work is organised and practised in a range of settings. Students will have contact with practitioners and service users and carers within class sessions and through visiting social care settings. Each student will also undertake a two-day shadowing placement with a final year student and practice educator in a social work setting. During this they will observe and discuss examples of social work practice and meet service users and/or carers.

Students will develop their self-awareness and skills of reflection on their learning and experiences through individual activities and class discussions. They will be guided to identify their individual learning needs and monitor and reflect on their own progress.

View full module details

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will outline the principles underpinning the assessment of children in need (including children with disabilities) and their families. The legal and policy framework within which social work in children's services operates will be addressed, including its core principles such as working in partnership with parents. The relationship between child protection and family support; outcomes, best practice and early intervention will be examined.

Working with Children in Care as another core area of practice will be outlined, including fostering and adoption issues and aftercare.

Key messages from research and theory in relation to interventions and outcomes, along with key messages from Inquiry reports, serious case reviews and government commissioned reports will form part of the curriculum. Here, multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working will feature as a core theme.

The identification of child abuse and assessment of significant harm, including the assessment of risk, thresholds, child protection investigations, changing practice and policy trends and the different ways in which children might be subject to neglect and abuse will be examined. Here, procedural intervention in child protection and safeguarding work; developing critical analysis and professional judgement will be discussed in depth.

View full module details

This module provides an exploration of contemporary family life with a focus on diversity and emerging sociological trends in relation to family. The legal and policy framework of both adults and children's services across the spectrum is examined. The key issue of multi and interagency working at both a policy and practice level is addressed. In particular, cross service divisions and tensions, particularly in the interface between adult and child services are explored in depth.

A core knowledge of some key issues and their effect on families – namely: disability, mental health, caring, alcohol & substance misuse, illness, learning disability, loss are discussed. The issues in engaging with a variety of family members and partnership working in complex situations along with the multiple perspectives of service users are examined. Throughout the module, key messages from research around best practice in assessment and intervention will be utilised.

View full module details

Students will attend placement for a total of 70 days (420 hours) and carry out direct work with service-users in a social work or social care environment. They will develop skills, knowledge and values through experiential learning. They will be supervised by either an on-site or off-site practice educator.

By the end of the first placement students should demonstrate effective use of knowledge, skills and commitment to core values in Social Work in a given setting in predominantly less complex situations, with supervision and support. They will have demonstrated capacity to work with people and situations where there may not be simple clear-cut solutions

View full module details

This module is an integral part of the practice learning and is designed to sit alongside the Practice Placement module. It offers an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in academic form. The two assignments incorporated in the module enable to the student to demonstrate their competence in both short term and longer term pieces of practice carried out over the course of the placement. The student will have the opportunity to apply relevant theoretical learning to their own practice and demonstrate reflection and critical thinking.

The students will also attend for 5 full days (25 hours total) of skills development. These days will expand and consolidate both the skills development days undertaken prior to placement and the practice learning opportunities.

View full module details

The overall aim of this module is to equip students with knowledge and understanding of social work with key adult service user groups and family carers. Specific knowledge and information about adult service users' needs and lives and the issues that bring them to the attention of social workers will be addressed alongside exploration of key concepts such as 'safeguarding’ and ‘personalisation’.

The policy and legal context of social work with adults will be explored and awareness of the changing responsibilities of social workers in adult services highlighted. The module will also facilitate appreciation of the impact of health problems, injustice, social inequalities, marginalisation and discrimination on the lives of adult service users. The Professional Capabilities and the ‘Knowledge and Skills Statement for Social with Adults’ will be woven into the module.

View full module details

The overall aim of this module is to equip students with the knowledge required for them to respond and intervene appropriately in their work with individuals who are experiencing mental distress and their families. It will enable students to function effectively in contemporary service settings including mental health services.

The module curriculum comprises a basic introduction to the key definitions, the professional roles and tasks, the medical model of mental health and the broad diagnostic categories in psychiatry, as well as a detailed account of social models of mental distress.

The module provides students with a critical introduction to key concepts including stigma and labelling theory, and problematic concepts such as 'care' and 'risk'. Using case study material, the module emphasises the importance of understanding diversity in experiences of mental distress, particularly in terms of the social location of individuals (including ‘race’, social class, gender and age) and the impact of disadvantage and discrimination. The module introduces students to different models of care in mental health services and also provides specialist input on mental health law.

View full module details

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

Students will attend placement for a total of 100 days and carry out direct work with service-users in a

social work or social care environment. They will develop skills, knowledge and values through

experiential learning. They will be supervised by either an On-site or Off-site practice educator.

View full module details

This module an integral part of the practice learning and is designed to sit alongside the Practice Placement module. It offers an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in academic form. The two assignments incorporated in the module enable the student to demonstrate their competence in both short term and longer term pieces of practice carried out over the course of the placement. The student will have the opportunity to apply relevant theoretical learning to their own practice and demonstrate reflection and critical thinking. This curriculum will be delivered both via Practice Educators in placement settings and related university based teaching.

The students will also attend for 5 full days (25 hours total) of skills development. These days will expand and consolidate both the skills development days undertaken prior to placement and the practice learning opportunities.

View full module details

This module introduces students to the nature of critical, reflective and ethical social work practice at an advanced level. They will consider the impact of the organisational, political, demographic and ideological context on contemporary social work practice. The module will focus specifically on critical perspectives to social work in a diverse society. The module will provide students with in-depth understanding of the significance of power, language, knowledge, social justice, and relationship based practice.

Key concepts from critical theory will be examined including the potential for social workers to act as change agents and challenge oppressive practice in institutional contexts. This will enable students to go beyond competency based approaches and consider creative and transformatory practice models. Dominant discourse(s) around gender, race, class, disability and sexuality will be problematized and challenged and diversity approaches will be critically engaged with through recursive links between theory and practice.

Students will consider the complex dilemmas and challenges involved in balancing competing needs, rights, risks and accountabilities. Assumptions around professionalism and managing risk, decision making and developing professional judgement will be critically examined, enabling students to evaluate links between structural, contextual and individual factors. Value-based social work, alignment with marginalized groups and respect for service users will underpin this activity.

Dealing with complex, unpredictable and emotionally demanding situations in social work practice can have an impact on student's well-being. This module will equip students to develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and become mindful and resilient practitioners through the effective use of supervision and other support systems.

The module will also explore with students the importance of developing skills in leadership, contributing to the development of others, and appropriate professional authority and assertiveness. Students will identify and reflect on strengths, learning needs and strategies for continuing personal and professional development in the remainder of the programme and during their Assessed Supported Year in Employment.

View full module details

This module will engage students in an exploration of systemic perspectives at both micro and macro levels. Students will acquire critical knowledge and understanding of key theoretical perspectives in group work and networking. The module will provide an outline of key principles and practice in methods of intervention such as CBT, family therapy, counselling, motivational interviewing, intensive family support and other approaches.

The module will also comprise consideration of complex and interconnected social and personal issues for individuals and families and how these might be addressed in interventions. The module will ensure that students learn to reflect on and critically evaluate a range of approaches with different service users. Critical evaluation of a variety of methods based on best practice and research evidence will underpin this module.

View full module details

This module will engage students' understanding of the legal, social and political context for multi agency working with an emphasis on current national initiatives and the rationale for them. Students will critically analyse the professional and practical barriers to partnership working and how these might be minimised. Models for team work in social care and their relevance to multi disciplinary settings will be outlined. Exploration of systems theory and psychodynamic models as explanatory frameworks will also be a feature.

Examples of multi disciplinary teams in practice – i.e. Sure Start, Youth Offending, Mental Health etc. will enable students to apply these theoretical frameworks effectively.

The module will include a focus on skills in multi–disciplinary working, including negotiating across professional boundaries and addressing issues of power and inequality. The module will explain the links between national initiatives to improved services and outcomes for users.

View full module details

The overall aim of the module is to equip students to become 'critical consumers' of research as practitioners by providing them with the knowledge and understanding necessary to evaluate research appropriately and apply findings appropriately in practice.

The module provides an introduction to a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods including different types of interview (narrative, biographical, in-depth, semi-structured, structured) ethnography, focus groups, surveys and questionnaires, experimental and quasi-experimental research, randomised controlled trials, documentary and textual analysis, systematic reviews and meta-analysis, and approaches that involves mixing methods.

The module also includes brief introductions to the techniques involved in analysing both qualitative and quantitative data. It also includes consideration of ethical issues relating to research.

Each week students are provided with research articles that are compulsory reading for discussion in seminars. Each reading provides an example of each method and its potential for addressing research questions relevant for social work practice.

View full module details

Teaching and assessment

Social Work is an applied degree that links theory to the practical skills required of social workers. Most staff teaching on the Social Work degree are qualified social workers and all have a varied range of practice, managerial, research and academic experience. Practice experience is an integral part of the course and placements allow you to try out the knowledge and values you have learned in your studies.

Teaching methods include formal lectures, large and small group discussion and experiential work, and a programme of seminars.

During placement periods, you will be supported by a practice educator and assessed in accordance with the Professional Capabilities Framework.

In addition to the assessed placements, you will be assessed through a mixture of written assignments, in class tests, presentations and video work. Successfully completing Stage 1 also includes satisfying the Board of Examiners that you are safe to undertake the practical component of Stages 2 and 3.  This will include completing the Readiness for Direct Practice module.

Social workers are required to be computer literate and you will be expected to develop these skills.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

Our aims are to provide students with:

  • education and training that meets
    • the standards set out by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC 2017)
    • the standards of proficiency required for registration as qualified social workers with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC SoPs; SETs 4.1; 6.1)
    • the outcome statements for qualifying education in relation to the Professional Capabilities Framework
    • expectations about the standards for the award of the Bachelor's degree in social work as set out in the Subject Benchmark Statement for Social Work (QAA 2016)
  • a research-led social work education that will equip you with the knowledge, skills, confidence and critical understanding necessary to practise social work in complex and demanding environments
  • knowledge that emphasises the importance of social work as a moral activity involving the study, application of, and reflection upon, ethical principles (SB4.6) and understanding of the implications of the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics (HCPC SETs 2012: 4.5)
  • the ability to become accountable, reflective, critical and evaluative (SB4.7), and to support and develop autonomous and reflective thinking (HCPC SETs 4.6)
  • knowledge and understanding in the specified compulsory areas of study (SB5.1) and to effectively integrate theory and practice (HCPC SETs 4.3)
  • skills that are of value in many situations: analytical thinking, building relationships, working as a member of an organisation, intervention, evaluation and reflection (SB5.2)
  • an education that is relevant, current and which encourages creativity, evidence-based and research-informed practice (HCPC SETs 4.4; 4.7)
  • an effective 'process curriculum' in terms of how content is taught, paying close attention to the involvement of service users and carers, practitioners, modelling anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice and confident professional identity (TCSW edref4)
  • partnerships with regional employers and other stakeholders in order to: supply practice placements and suitably qualified practitioners; exchange ideas concerning the content of the qualifying programme; lead at strategic level (TCSW)
  • relevant teaching, learning and assessment across the full range of knowledge and skills as required by the relevant professional agencies (TCSW PCF, HCPC Sop, SETs, and SB) to allow students to undertake specific learning and assessment in key areas.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • social work services, users and carers (SB5.1.1), the service delivery context (SB5.1.2) and the nature of the practice of social work (SB5.1.5)
  • theories and models for social work intervention with individuals, families, groups and communities and the methods derived from them (PCF5.8; SB5.1.4; SoP13.4)
  • the nature, definition, development and application of relevant values and philosophical ethical principles (SB5.1.3; SoP13.4)
  • the principles of rights, justice and economic well-being and their significance in the practice of social work (PCF4)
  • the relevance of research from psychological, environmental, sociological, economic and physiological perspectives for understanding the impact of a range of factors on personal and social development and functioning (SoP 13.4; PCF5.4), including spiritual and cultural factors (PCF5)
  • human growth and development across the lifespan, including mental health, disability and needs arising from age-related ill-health and disadvantage (PCF5.3; SoP13.4)
  • the legal and policy framework for social work with individuals, families, groups and communities (SoP 13 4), including a critical understanding of the scope for professional judgment (PCF5.2)
  • the impact of injustice, social inequalities, policies and other issues that affect the demand for social work services (SoP13.4)
  • concepts of participation, advocacy, empowerment, partnership working, including with service users and carers, and sharing information across professional disciplines and agencies (SoP13.4)
  • the relevance of sociological perspectives to understanding societal and structural influences on human behaviour (SoP 13.4).

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • a developed capacity for the critical evaluation of knowledge and evidence from a range of sources, including empirical research (SB7.3)
  • to use research and inquiry techniques with reflective awareness, to collect, analyse and interpret relevant information (SB7.3)
  • to practise as an autonomous professional, exercising your own professional judgment (SoP4), autonomy and initiative in individual decision making (SB7.4)
  • an awareness of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on the practice of social work (SoP5)
  • to reflect on and review practice (SoP11), incorporating appraisal of previous learning into future learning and practice (SB7.3)
  • an understanding of the key concepts of the knowledge base relevant to the profession (SoP13)
  • to acknowledge and understand the potential and the limitations of social work as a practice-based discipline to effect individual and social change (SB7.3).

Subject-specific skills

You gain specfic skills in the following:

  • the ability to draw on appropriate knowledge and skills to inform your practice of social work (SoP14) using knowledge and understanding in an integrated way in specific contexts and to engage in effective relationships with service users and carers (SB7.3)
  • to practise safely and effectively within your scope of practice (SoP1), applying a repertoire of core skills (SB7.4)
  • the ability to acquire and integrate skills in problem solving, including managing problem-solving activities, gathering information, analysis and synthesis and intervention and evaluation (SB5.5)
  • to practise within the legal and ethical boundaries of the profession (SoP2) with a clear understanding of ethical issues and codes of values in practice (SB7.4)
  • an ability to maintain your fitness to practise (SoP3)
  • to practise in an anti-discriminatory and non-oppressive manner (SoP6)
  • the ability to maintain confidentiality (SoP7) and keep records appropriately (SoP10)
  • the ability to assure the quality of your work (SoP12), demonstrate habits of critical reflection on your performance and take responsibility for modifying action in the light of this (SB7.4).

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • effective communication to an advanced level (SB5.6; SoP8)
  • the application of IT and numerical skills (SB5.9)
  • problem solving, including managing problem-solving activities, gathering information, analysis and synthesis, intervention and evaluation (SB5.5)
  • to work effectively and appropriately with others, including challenging others where necessary (SB5.7; SoP9)
  • personal and professional development, including managing uncertainty, change and stress and the critical and effective use of research (SB5.8).


Graduate destinations

Our programmes provide you with knowledge and skills that appeal to employers such as:

  • the NHS
  • local authority adults' and children's services
  • voluntary organisations
  • private agencies.

Some graduates choose to take on agency supply work to experience a range of situations and workplace settings.

Help finding a job

The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research has its own employability team who work with businesses to maximise opportunities for our students. We also hold an Employability Month every February and run networking events throughout the year.

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Work experience

During your studies, you spend 170 days out on placement. You are supported by a practice educator and assessed in accordance with the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). The PCF was developed by the Social Work Reform Board to set out consistent expectations for social workers throughout their careers.

Career-enhancing skills

You graduate with subject-specific knowledge that is essential for a career in social work. You also develop the key transferable skills graduate employers look for, including:

  • the ability to analyse problems
  • excellent communication skills
  • work independently or as part of a team
  • an understanding of, and sensitivity to, the values and interests of others.

You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Professional recognition

Social work is a regulated profession. A qualifying degree in Social Work is a prerequisite for eligibility to apply for professional registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a qualified social worker.

As a social work student, you will be expected to adhere to the HCPC's Guidance of conduct and ethics for students. As well as regulating individual social workers, the HCPC also regulates the performance of social work courses, and publishes its reports on its website.

The Partnership Initiative

The Partnership Initiative (PI) works to embed service user and carer perspectives, experience and expertise into social work programmes at the University of Kent, including student selection, teaching and assessment and research activities. The PI was set up when the BA Social Work was founded at Kent in 2003 and also works closely with the MA Social Work programme that began in 2013.

The PI’s mission statement is that, ‘PI exists in order that people who use services and carers work collaboratively with staff and students. This is to ensure that the skills and experiences of all are integral to the social work programmes at the University of Kent.’

Membership of the Partnership Initiative is open to people in Kent and Medway with direct experience of social services and social workers, whether as service users or as carers. The PI meets and collaborates regularly with academics and representatives of the student body. PI members are paid for involvement in teaching, student selection and any other programme related activities through contracts with the University. Further details of the Partnership Initiative’s work are available in the PI newsletter, Bridging the Gap.

Independent rankings

For graduate prospects, Social Work at Kent was ranked 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2018Of Social Work students who graduated in 2016, over 94% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications, typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact the Admissions Office for further advice. It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

Mature candidates with equivalent qualifications are considered dependent on their qualifications and experience.

Satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and a satisfactory health declaration are required for applicants receiving offers. 

In addition to the examination grades set out below, candidates must demonstrate awareness and understanding of the needs of people requiring social care or social work. Paid/voluntary social care experience of dealing with vulnerable groups in society or some personal experience is required. All candidates are assessed against the criteria for entry level of the Professional Capabilities Framework for Social Work.

Applicants being considered will complete a written test and, if satisfactory, will be invited to attend for an individual interview and observed group discussion. Individual interviews are carried out by a member of the programme team and an experienced practitioner. Service users and carers are members of the panel that observe each group discussion.

Accreditation of prior learning

In certain circumstances it may be possible for a student who has completed a stage of the BA Social Work from another university to be accepted onto a subsequent stage of the BA at Kent eg Stage 2 or 3. Before considering a transfer, the Admissions Tutor for the BA Social Work will need to be satisfied that the student has met the preceding stage's learning outcomes as required and defined by the University of Kent.

Once this has been accessed and to be considered for direct entry, the student must complete health and criminal offences declarations and also provide evidence that:

  • they would have met our entry criteria at Stage 1
  • their standard of work is good (providing evidence of a minimum of four essays, marks and feedback, plus an academic reference from their tutor or lecturer).

A reason for requesting the transfer will also be required and, normally, the student will be invited to an interview with a member of the Social Work team.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level



English and Mathematics at grade C or above is essential for all candidates. GCSE equivalence within an Access to Higher Education course is acceptable as a substitute for GCSE or Functional Skills level 2. 

Access to HE Diploma

Access applicants are required to pass with at least  75% level 3 credits at Merit and must include English and Maths at GCSE equivalent if not already obtained. 

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

Distinction, Merit, Merit 

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at higher level

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language must complete the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) qualification and achieve a score of 7.0 overall and in each subtest.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is responsible for the administration of social work bursaries. Please refer to the NHSBSA website for the latest available information including the eligibility criteria

Students on Social Work BA programmes are only eligible to receive a bursary during Stages 2 and 3 of their programme. No student receives a bursary at Stage 1.

We do not receive confirmation of the number of bursaries for Stage 2/3 of our BA programme until the Summer Term of Stage 1. There are generally fewer bursaries than students registered. We are obliged to provide the NHS Business Services Authority with a ranked list of students. Students will be ranked according to the following: academic achievement and Stage 1 attendance.

Students who do not receive a bursary, but meet the eligibility criteria, are currently able to apply to the NHSBSA for a Travel Allowance to help with placement-related travel costs.

Undergraduates (including those who receive a bursary) may continue to be eligible for a student loan from Student Finance England, subject to eligibility criteria.

In addition, Kent offers generous financial support schemes to support eligible undergraduate students during their studies. Find out more on our fees and funding page.

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created a new scholarship, The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence, which will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications as specified on our funding pages.

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact