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. Successful graduates of this programme are eligible for professional registration with Social Work England (SWE), the regulatory body for social work.
"With the knowledge I have acquired in the social work course, I hope to eventually become a clinical psychologist."
Social Work at Kent scored 91% overall in The Complete University Guide 2023.
The Kent and Medway Regional Partnership has opened recruitment for 20 aspiring social workers to join the Step Up to Social Work programme in January 2024.
Our graduates are highly sought-after. 95% of our graduates are in work or further study 15 months after graduating (Discover Uni).
Academic staff on the Social Work team from SSPSSR play an active role in the Kent, Medway and South East Social Work Teaching Partnership.
Our typical offer levels are listed below and include indicative contextual offers. If you hold alternative qualifications just get in touch and we'll be glad to discuss these with you.
Distinction, Distinction, Merit
120 tariff points - typically H5, H6, H6 or equivalent
English at GCSE grade 4 or above (or equivalent) 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. Although Maths GCSE at 4 or above is preferred, applicants will still be considered if this requirement isn't met.
Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average (plus 50% in LZ013 Maths and Statistics if you do not hold GCSE Maths at 4/C or equivalent). Progression is also dependent on entrance tests and interview.
The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.
Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 45 Credits at level 3 with 24 credits at Distinction and 21 credits at Merit
In addition to the examination grades set out above, 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.
Due to the travel requirements for mandatory placements, students are required to hold a full and valid UK driving licence in order to progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of this course. These requirements are not applied to those who have evidenced disabilities or health conditions which preclude them from obtaining a full driving licence.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 SOCI3070 (SO307) 'Communication and Interpersonal Skills' and SOCI3130 (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 short 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.
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 is another core area of practice that 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 and developing critical analysis and professional judgement will be discussed in depth
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.
Students will attend placement for a period in line with the requirements of the professional regulator 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 teamwork 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
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
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.
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.
Students will attend placement for a period in line with regulator standards 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.
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.
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.
Social workers are required to be computer literate and you will be expected to develop these skills.
More information about teaching and assessment can be found in the Programme Specification for this degree, available on the University's Course specifications webpage.
Students must also meet the Education and Training Standards stipulated by Social Work England
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.
Social work is about changing people's lives for the better.
With recent developments in computing, automation, and artificial intelligence, many of today's jobs will give way to new types of careers and opportunities. This course will develop your critical, analytical, communication and research skills to prepare you for this contemporary, ever-changing world of work, giving you lots of career options when you graduate, and in the years beyond.
Many of our graduates take their concern with people, society and social justice into their career trajectory and move into roles that allow them to affect real-world impact. Our Social Work graduates are highly sought after and have gone on to work for companies such as:
The 2024/25 annual tuition fees for this course are:
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.*
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.
Successful applicants to this programme are required to complete and pay for an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (which the University will facilitate), and the update service as required/recommended.
This programme includes a compulsory placement element. Although a government bursary may be available, there may still be costs associated with this aspect of the programme. Please see this document for estimated costs associated with the placement, and contact us for further information.
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 www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Students/825.aspx
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.
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.
Feel welcomed and well-supported with your learning. You’ll find a reassuring range of schemes in place to help you succeed in your degree.
You’ll be able to take advantage of supportive initiatives such as our WriteRight! Programme, the University’s Academic Peer Mentoring scheme, our student society Socrates, and Student Support provision within the wider Division in which SSPSSR is based.
If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can apply through UCAS or directly on our website if you have never used UCAS and you do not intend to use UCAS in the future.
We welcome applications from students all around the world with a wide range of international qualifications.
Kent ranked top 50 in the The Complete University Guide 2023 and The Times Good University Guide 2023.
Kent has risen 11 places in THE’s REF 2021 ranking, confirming us as a leading research university.