University of Chester

Programme Specification
Social Work BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Social Work

Social Work

University of Chester

University of Chester

Warrington Campus

Professional/ Specialist/ Community/ Advanced Practice (Nursing & Midwifery)


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Social Work Benchmark group (2008)

QAA Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education: Work based and placement learning (2008) 

HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2008)

HCPC Standards of proficiency for social workers

HCPC Standards of education and training (2009)

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Social Work Subject Assessment Board

Monday 1st June 2009

The overarching aim of the programme is to enable students to qualify as confident, capable and critically reflective professional social workers. The programme aims to support and enable students to develop and advance their generic skills and specialised knowledge of social work practice, so that they meet the different thresholds for progression required by The College of Social Work in regards to the PCF.

 Other aims are:

  • To provide an educational experience for all students that meets professional and academic requirements.
  • To develop and promote the skills of critical, analytical and reflective thinking. 
  • To develop research-minded practitioners, able to analyse, adapt to and manage the processes of change.  
  • To develop the ethos of lifelong learning, and advance students' sense of personal responsibility and commitment to their ongoing education and development, as outlined in the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF, 2012).
  • To develop students' capability and skills to meet the requirements of the social work qualification by their final year of study, and to achieve this through flexible entry, clear learning outcomes, and strong formal and informal student support systems further complemented by transparent assessment procedures and practice. 
  • To achieve robust collaboration with employers and continue to develop increasingly strong links with service users and carers.  
  • To develop students' ability to assess and meet the social care needs of service users, using an anti-oppressive practice perspective underpinned by social work values and meeting the requirements of the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2008).
  • To develop students’ capability and skills in line with the PCF student level descriptors, and to meet the requirements of the social work qualification by their final year of study as outlined in the HCPC Standards of Proficiency (2012).
  • To challenge students within a supported learning environment to understand oppression at the personal, cultural and societal levels through both academic and experiential processes.
  • To develop students' understanding of their own values in relation to their personal history and professional practice. 
  • To develop the students' awareness of the need for effective inter-professional practice and to consider the impact of their role within their own organisation and wider context. 
  • To ensure that social work students are able to respond to the constantly changing context within which social work, social care, health and education policies are being implemented.
  • To enable students to qualify for registration as a social worker with the HCPC.

Knowledge and Understanding

Students will be able to critically analyse theoretical knowledge, including evidencefrom research, in a way that enables them to identify its relevance and critically apply that knowledge to social work practice.
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Students will be able to use cognitive skills to be able to assess complex social situations and identify appropriate forms of intervention.

Practical Skills

Students will be able to follow agency policies and procedures, and critically analyse the way in which they are being applied in an agency to meet professional standards of social work practice and national policy guidelines.
Critical reflection

Critically reflective practice is central to social work practice and is identified as one of the nine domains of the PCF. Students will be able to reflect on experiences from practice and draw on the views of those service users and carers who they are working with

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

  • Communication
    Communication is an essential aspect of the course and is assessed in the Skills for Practice module and the practice placements.
  • Application of number, and Information literacy and technology
    Students will be required to demonstrate information literacy and technology through the medium of existing core modules. For example, placement modules and SW5002 The Critical Practitioner. In Placements 1, 2 and 3 - students will be required to use the agency's computer programmes e.g. CareFirst when undertaking practice placements.
  • Improve own learning and performance
    Students will be required to reflect on their seminar and practice placement experiences in a way that ensures they internalise the principles of best practice. They will be required to transfer this learning to different placement settings and in application to case studies.
  • Skills in working with others
    Students will work in small groups to discuss issues and promote their learning and understanding of how knowledge, theoretical concepts and skills are applied to hypothetical and real scenarios. Students will be assessed during the practice placements on their ability to work with a range of different people including service users, carers, colleagues and other professionals.
  • Problem solving skills
    Students will learn about identifying and working with need and risk and the tools, frameworks and documentation that support and guide the spectrum of social work assessments and intervention. An anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice perspective will inform this course.
    Placements 1, 2 and 3 - students will be able to apply knowledge, skills and values to problem solving in actual situations.

Transferable Professional Skills

Students will progressively develop self-management skills by taking responsibility for casework on the two practice placements and organising and recording placement learning meetings.Time management skills are essential for good practice. Effective communication with a range of different people. Collaborative approaches to working with student colleagues, lecturing staff and other professionals during placements. 'Bythe completion of the programme newly qualified social workers should have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and values to work with a range of user groups, and the ability to undertake a range of tasks at a foundation level, the capacity to work with more complex situations; they should be able to work more autonomously, whilst recognising that the final decision will still rest with their supervisor; they will seek appropriate support and supervision.' (The College of Social Work (TCSW), 2012)This will prepare newly qualified workers for the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).

The following outline highlights some of the different features of the learning and teaching in each of the three levels of the programme which, for the duration of the programme, will enable students to develop a coherent, incremental and integrated approach to their professional development.

The learning and teaching approach at level 4 enables students to develop a broad knowledge of a range of subjects and topics which provide a basis for understanding the nature of social work practice. 

At level 5, students are able to develop their skills in exploring how a social work agency interprets and applies the requirements of policy and legislation and supervises the work of its staff. The teaching at the beginning of the first term provides the students with valuable preparation for practice, and provides a useful platform to enable and promote the students' understanding that social work remains an applied academic subject with an essential practice component. 

At level 6, students are expected to use the teaching and learning opportunities to facilitate the development of their professional identity as a social worker, with opportunities to develop individual responsibility and exercise independent and critical judgement when confronted with new challenges. Students take individual responsibility for the progress of their dissertation with attendant teaching and support located at the outset of year 3.

Derogation: No compensation between modules allowed.  Students are required to pass every module.  All components within SW4001 and SW5001 must be passed with a minimum mark of 40%.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SW4003 0 Methods Models and Theories 0 N/A
SW4001 4 Skills for Practice 20 N/A
SW4002 4 People, Society and Social Divisions 20 N/A
SW4004 4 Social Work Law and Policy 20 N/A
SW4005 4 Introduction to Practice (Placement 1) 40 N/A
SW5001 5 Working With People: Assessment: Purpose, Process and Approach 20 N/A
SW5002 5 The Critical Practitioner 20 N/A
SW5003 5 Social Work Law and Ethics 20 N/A
SW5004 5 Developing Practice - Assessment 20 N/A
SW5005 5 Developing Practice - Practice Report 40 N/A
SW6001 6 Social Work Dissertation 40 Comp
SW6002 6 Working with People: Planning, Intervention, Review and Evaluation 20 Comp
SW6003 6 Continuing Practice - Assessment 20 Comp
SW6008 6 Continuing Practice - Practice Report 40 Comp

Level4 - 120 credits, Certificate in Higher Education in Social Welfare Studies (without registration).
Level5 - 120 credits, Diploma in Higher Education in Social Welfare Studies (without registration).
Level6 -120 credits, BA (Hons) Social Work (with registration).

Admissions procedures

This will be through the University and Colleges Admissions Service, and will follow the University of Chester's admissions strategy.

All prospective students fulfilling the criteria will be invited for a formal interview. Representatives of service users and or carers and employers are fully involved in the selection process. 

Admissions criteria

The admission criteria for student entry to the BA (Hons) Social Work programme will be:

  • Demonstration of a minimum of 240 - 280 UCAS points, of which 240 points must be obtained from GCE A Levels, including a grade C in one subject. The remaining points may be achieved from GCE AS Levels, or Level 3 Key Skills.
  • All students will have achieved GCSE grade C (or above) in English Language and Mathematics, or at least Key Skills Level  3 in Communication and Application of Number. Applicants who did not complete GSCE English Language within the UK will be asked to obtain IELTS - a score of 7.0 overall and with no category scoring below 6.5.
  • Demonstration of a commitment to social care work, normally through completion of substantial experience in a social care setting .
  • A basic ability to use IT effectively
  • The interview follows an equal opportunities format in that all candidates are asked the same questions. 
  • Suitable reference from either an academic tutor or a work-based supervisor.
  • Satisfactory completion of an enhanced dsiclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service and a Declaration of Health form.

Shortlisted candidates will attend a group activity and participate in a discussion of a topic relevant to social work. Candidates will also have to complete a written task. Candidates will attend an individual interview, which will consider the applicant's attributes, background, motivation and suitability for social work.The interview follows an equal opportunities format in which all candidates are asked the same questions.

Health checks

The BA (Hons) Social Work programme will adhere to the University of Chester’s Faculty of Health and Social Care Professional Suitability Procedures. In accordance with the College of Social Work and the Health and Care Professions Council requirements, all students will be required to confirm that they do not have any physical or mental health condition that would affect their ability to carry out the role of a social worker.

On acceptance of a place at the University of Chester, the applicant will be sent a Declaration of Health form in which they are asked to declare any physical or mental health condition that could affect their ability to safely carry out the role of the social worker, and which states that if they are in doubt about the relevance of any issue they should declare it. Students will be advised on signing these forms that failure to declare anything relevant which is subsequently discovered could lead to termination of their training.

The completed form will be returned to the Occupational Health department at the University of Chester where the information on the form is assessed. If Occupational Health considers that further information about a student's declared condition is required, they will request the student’s agreement to seek further information from their general practitioner or consultant. The student’s application would not proceed without the students’ consent to this further enquiry. If Occupational Health considers that a prospective student is not suitable to commence social work training, they will make a statement to the University of Chester to that effect. Decisions which are made arising from concerns about prospective students' health will draw on any guidance which is provided by the HCPC. Annual declaration of good conduct and good health forms are completed by students at the start of each academic year. Any issue arising from a declaration on these forms will be addressed by the Head of Department or Occupational Health. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to commence the Practice Placement 1 module without a satisfactory health check having been processed.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)  Students who accept a place at the University of Chester will be provided with information, prior to taking up their place, which informs them that they will be required to complete the Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure application form during the week following their enrolment at the University of Chester. The information that is sent will remind them that they have already made a declaration on their UCAS form and that they are required to declare all convictions or cautions  however minor.

Students are also required to declare whether they have been barred from engaging in regulated activity with either children or vulnerable adults. The information will advise them that non-declaration of offences will be considered a serious matter, and that should a check which is returned by the DBS identify any offence which has not been previously declared, the failure to disclose may result in the initiation of the Professional Suitability Procedure, and the result of initiating this procedure could lead to the termination of the student’s training. If a student has declared on their UCAS form that they have a conviction or caution and have provided information about any offences, a panel will be convened to consider whether the application should be considered by the University of Chester.

The panel will include a senior management representative of a social services department. Should the DBS check result in the identification of a criminal conviction which has not been disclosed, a panel will meet to decide on further action. Consideration will be given to initiating the Student Disciplinary Procedure. The initiation of the Professional Suitability Procedure may result in the student’s studies being terminated. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to commence the Practice Placement 1 module without a satisfactory DBS check having been processed. Students are also required to disclose any involvement in safeguarding issues relating to children or vulnerable adults, regardless of the outcome.

Accreditation of Prior (Experiential ) Learning (AP(E)L)

The Faculty of Health and Social Care operates a robust AP(E)L system, developed in line with University of Chester's procedures and overseen by the faculty's AP(E)L Co-ordinator. Students may therefore claim specific credit exemption against the programme modules in line with university procedures.

Students are not able to claim any AP(E)L exemption against any of the 200 days spent on placement.

The Subject Benchmark Statements for social work (2008) and the Key Skills provide an analysis of the component elements of the broad area of capability or performance in which social work students are required to demonstrate their competence. Students’ learning takes place within the context of the requirements of social work education, for example the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Subject Benchmark for Social Work (2008), the Health and Care Professionals Council Standards for Education and Training (2009), the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) (The College of Social Work, 2012), the HCPC Standards of Proficiency (2012) and the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (2008). The staff team consider that the teaching and learning which occurs in lectures, in seminars, in individual and group tutorials with the personal academic tutor, and in supervision with the practice educator in the two practice placements will all support students in the learning process. The programme has been mapped against the relevant subject benchmarking groups (see separate documentation).


Students will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes, and to promote personal and professional development.

The strategies employed in each module are those appropriate to the achievement of the module aims and objectives. Each module will utilise blended learning and teaching methods, which take account of the subject matter, the student group size, the students' previous experience, strengths and needs, and the resources available. Methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Lectures.
  • Seminars, presentations and debates.
  • Action learning sets.
  • Scenario-based learning.
  • Individual and group work tasks.
  • Practice placements
  • Learning through practice.
  • Tutorials - individual and group.
  • Discussion groups.
  • Role play
  • Private study sessions.
  • Directed study.
  • Audio-visual material.
  •  Online material

All modules are compulsory. These consist of a mixture of direct contact, directed study, and practice under the supervision of a practice educator. Subject experts will be invited to contribute to the delivery of the programme, ensuring the currency of the information and learning provided. This is essential to compete with other providers in the region. A group of service users and carers work alongside the teaching staff in programme planning, updating and evaluation of the course. They also deliver sessions and provide a crucial insight into the service user and carer experience of social work services. The methods of learning and teaching on the programme are congruent with ethics, values and principles of experiential education, and facilitate a process of learning through observing, listening, reflecting and analysing. The value of reflection in social work education and training is that it provides a structured process for exploring the evidence upon which practice is based. By the end of the programme, students should be able to critically and reflectively analyse the social work context as a reflective practitioner.

E-Learning All of the modules will utilise e-learning activities (e.g. on-line sessions, discussion boards, and quizzes etc.) via a dedicated MOODLE module section. This will ‘house’ all session materials along with further directed reading (pertinent e-books and on-line journals will be signposted) and will provide links to relevant websites and forums. All non role-play assignments will be submitted on-line.

Students will be exposed to a range and variety of assessment methods which are designed to identify intellectual and personal and practical skills. The assessment strategies will ensure that the content, outcomes and level of the modules are measured in a fair and transparent manner. The range of assessment methods reflects the nature of the programme which leads to a professional qualification. Students are required to pass all assessments in each year. Curriculum design affords a spread of assessments across each term and academic year to facilitate both incremental and effective learning and reflection in respect of the integration of theory and practice.   

The programme's approach to assessment will follow the underpinning principles which are contained in the University of Chester's Quality and Standards Manual.

Methods of assessment for taught modules include essays, presentations, portfolios, an exam and a role play interview.

Methods of assessment for placement modules include essays, presentations and portfolios.

In order to work as a practising social worker, students must develop skills in analysing their own and others' actions and motivations and the multifarious ways in which these can be mediated and influenced within an interpersonal, social, cultural and political contexts. Students who are awarded the BA (Hons) Social Work will typically possess the following characteristics:

  • A systematic understanding of the knowledge bases related to social work, and a critical awareness of current social issues which are relevant to people who experience difficulties in their lives and have a range of social care needs.
  • An acknowledgement and understanding of both the potential and the limitations of social work as a practice-based discipline.
  • An ability to relate effectively to service users, carers, colleagues and other professionals, and to establish and develop relationships where appropriate.
  • A conceptual appreciation of the way in which an understanding of ethics and values are relevant to the dilemmas facing social workers, and the ability to work in an anti-oppressive way in a variety of practice settings and with a range of service users and carers. 
  • A willingness and ability to analyse the social work context as a critically reflective practitioner. 
  • The ability to work within a legislative context, and to follow agency and national policy guidelines in working with people.
  • A broad knowledge of the range of interventions that are available to support people who have social care needs and apply creatively a repertoire of core skills.
  • A knowledge of and ability to meet the requirements of the HCPC Standards of proficiency for social workers (2012).
  • A motivation and knowledge about how to take responsibility for their ongoing professional development.
  • A developed capacity for the knowledge creation and critical evaluation of knowledge and evidence from a variety of sources. 
  • In line with the PCF, completing students will be able to ‘demonstrate the Knowledge, Skills, and Values to work with a range of user groups, and the ability to undertake a range of tasks at a foundation level, the capacity to work with more complex situations; they should be able to work more autonomously, whilst recognising that the final decision will still rest with their supervisor; they will seek appropriate support and supervision’. (TCSW, 2012).

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

Progression and suitability 

Students will need to have successfully completed the SW4001 Skills for Practice module, which includes the assessed role play component, thereby meeting the Department of Health requirement in relation to assessed preparation for practice. See module descriptors for SW4001 Skills for Practice and SW4005 Introduction to Practice (Placement 1).

In addition, the student is required to have completed a satisfactory CRB check and satisfactory health check prior to being fit for practice.  

Professional suitability

Consideration is ongoing throughout the programme with reference to the University of Chester’s Professional Suitability Procedure. Reference to the guidance for students can be found in the Programme/Student Handbook. Students are required to complete an Annual Good Conduct and Good Health Form at the start of each academic year.  If they declare that they have received a conviction or caution whilst on the course, a panel will be convened to consider the circumstances.

The panel will include a senior management representative of a social services department. Should it become apparent that a criminal conviction has not been disclosed, a panel will meet to decide on further action. Consideration will be given to initiating the Student Disciplinary Procedure. The initiation of the Professional Suitability Procedure may result in the student’s studies being terminated. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to commence the Practice Placement 1 module without a satisfactory DBS check and confirmation of a satisfactory health record having been processed.

Any involvement in safeguarding issues with children or vulnerable adults must also be declared to the Programme Team. Depending on the seriousness of the situation a panel may be convened to discuss the student’s suitability to remain on the programme.Where an issue arises concerning a students’ conduct or behaviour whilst registered on the programme this will not be dealt with by the Student Disciplinary Procedure but will be referred to the University Professional Suitability Procedures as outlined in paragraph 1.3 of the Student Disciplinary procedure

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