University of Chester

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

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Social Work

Social Work (2013 Programme)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Warrington Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September

L505

L500

Yes

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

1. QAA Social Work Benchmark group (2008).

2. HCPC Standards of proficiency for social workers (2012).

3. HCPC Standards of education and training (2012).

4. The College of Social Work (TCSW) Professional Capabilities Framework (2012).

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Social Work Subject Assessment Board

Friday 1st March 2013

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, namely: the assessment of readiness for practice; the assessment at the end of the first practice placement (70 days); and the final assessment at the end of the second practice placement (100 days).

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' 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 Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of performance, conduct and ethics (2008). 
  • To develop students' awareness of the need for effective inter-professional practice, and to consider the impact of their role within their organisation and wider context.
  • 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 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 evidence from 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 use cognitive skills to assess complex situations and identify appropriate forms of intervention. Students will demonstrate suitable academic skills.
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
Communication is an essential aspect of the course, and is assessed within the Readiness for Social Work Practice module (level 4) and the Practice Placements 1 (level 5) and 2 (level 6) modules.
• Application of number, and information literacy and technology
Students will be required to demonstrate information literacy and technology through existing core modules. For example, in the Practice Placement 1 and 2 modules students will be required to use the agency’s computer programme to record their work. This will be confirmed by the practice educator.
• 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 as well as the tools, frameworks and documentation that support and guide the spectrum of social work assessments and interventions. An anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive perspective will inform this course. Placements 1 and 2 will enable students to apply knowledge, skills and values to problem solving in real 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)
This will prepare newly qualified workers for the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE).

The underlying philosophy of the programme is to promote a critically reflective and responsive teaching and learning experience. The programme structure and content demonstrate our strong commitment to the critical integration of theory and practice underpinned by a strong professional identity and value base. To promote effective student learning, the programme aims to build on prior knowledge and experience and connect to new learning. Interactive teaching methods foster inclusion, self-motivation, autonomy and an ability to work collaboratively with others.

The following outline highlights some of the features of the learning and teaching in each of the three levels of the programme. Modules are designed and delivered in accordance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), using their stated credit level descriptors as a reference point.

The teaching and learning 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. Students will be able to demonstrate a Readiness for Practice in line with the requirements of the PCF. Students can submit draft assignments during the first academic year; feedback from tutors can assist with the transition to study at HE.

At level 5, students are able to develop their skills to meet social work agency policies and procedures. Teaching focuses on different service user groups and problems, and builds on the learning from the first year and understanding the application of this knowledge to different situations. By the end of the first placement students will be able to demonstrate effective use of knowledge, skills and values, and a commitment to work with people in line with the PCF end of first placement level capabilities.

At level 6, students are expected to use teaching and learning opportunities to facilitate the development of their professional identity as a social worker. By the end of the course, students will have demonstrated knowledge, skills and values to work with people in more complex situations. Students should have developed skills to work autonomously, yet use supervision appropriately for support and guidance, in line with Qualifying Social Worker Level Capabilities.

Stakeholders, service users and carers contribute to the programme at all levels, using their personal experiences and first-hand knowledge to enhance students' understanding. This input is valued highly by existing students and it supports the Social Work Task Force (2009) recommendation that service users and carers are involved in the delivery of the programme.

Derogation: No compensation between modules is allowed in the overall classification and award. Students are required to pass all modules.

There is no compensation between the different assessment components in the following modules. Each component must be achieved at a minimum mark of 40% to pass the module:

  • Readiness for direct practice (level 4)
  • Social work law and policy (level 4)
  • Approaches to research (level 6)

Awards:

  • Level 4 - 120 credits, Certificate in Higher Education in Social Welfare Studies (without registration).
  • Level 5 - 120 credits, Diploma in Higher Education in Social Welfare Studies (without registration).
  • Level 6 - 120 credits, BA (Hons) Social Work (eligible to apply for registration).

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SW4006 4 Readiness for Direct Practice 40 Comp
SW4007 4 Social Work Law and Policy 20 Comp
SW4008 4 Human Growth and Development 20 Comp
SW4009 4 Sociology and Social Policy 20 Comp
SW4010 4 Social Work Values and Ethics 20 Comp
SW5006 5 Social Work Practice with Adults 20 Comp
SW5007 5 Social Work Practice with Children and Families 20 Comp
SW5008 5 Social Work Theory and Methods 20 Comp
SW5009 5 Social Care Organisations and Inter-Professional Working 20 Comp
SW5010 5 Placement 1 40 Comp
SW6013 6 Critical social work practice 20 N/A
SW6014 6 Approaches to Research 40 N/A
SW6015 6 Preparing for Professional Practice 20 N/A
SW6016 6 Placement 2 40 N/A

Students are required to achieve 120 credits at each level (4, 5 and 6) in order to receive the final award of BA (Hons) Social Work.

The College of Social Work Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) Entry Level Capabilities, and the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC) Standards of Education and Training (SETS) guidance for programme admissions are used throughout our shortlisting and interviewing assessment process; this ensures that candidates selected meet the entry level requirements.

Admission to the programme will be through the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), and will follow the University of Chester’s admissions strategy. All prospective students fulfilling the criteria will be invited to the formal interview day, where applicants will participate and be assessed in a group activity, attend an individual interview and complete a written test. Representatives of service users, carers and employers are fully involved in the selection process.

The programme has a clear English context, equipping students to be eligible to register as social workers with the HCPC. Whilst all modules have regard to issues of cultural sensitivity and some students may join the programme as residents in Wales, the programme is not specifically designed for the Welsh context. Whilst we may be able to secure some practice learning opportunities in Wales, these are limited. Students are advised to seek further information from the Care Council for Wales (http://www.ccwales.org.uk/) about registration as a social worker in Wales on completion of a programme of study outside Wales.  

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. 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.
  • A basic ability to use IT effectively.
  • Demonstration of a commitment to social care work through completion of substantial experience in a social care setting.
  • Suitable reference from either an academic tutor and/or a work based supervisor.
  • Satisfactory completion of an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service and a Declaration of Health form.  

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to the Warrington Campus where they will undertake a written task and individual interview, which will consider the applicant's attributes, background, motivation and suitability for social work. Applicants are required to pass both elements of the assessment process.

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 enquiryThe 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 practice placement days (170 and 30 days readiness for practice).

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 range of teaching and learning methods which are designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes, and to promote personal and professional development. Strategies employed in each module are appropriate to the achievement of the module aims and objectives.

Methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars, presentations and debates
  • Scenario-based learning
  • Action learning sets
  • Individual and group work tasks
  • Practice placements
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Discussion groups
  • Audio-visual material
  • Role play
  • Directed study
  • 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.

Professional Development Profile

The Readiness for Direct Practice module (SW4006) will introduce the student's Professional Development Portfolio (PDP). This will direct students to collect, collate and reflect upon their ongoing learning activities and their own development needs. Each section is designed ((Gibbs (1983), and Kolb (1983)) to help students think about their ongoing learning and the impact that it has upon their developing social work practice, as well as providing them with the resources needed to evidence the PCF and SoPs during placements, and ultimately when compiling their application for HCPC registration. It will help students to plan their career against the PCF as a newly qualified social worker in their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. The PDP will be discussed as a set agenda item during personal academic tutor and practice educator supervision sessions.

E-learning

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

Inter-professional learning (IPL)

There will be opportunities to share learning with other students within the University, through role play scenarios, conferences and specially designed IPL days. Inter-professional working is essential to good practice and this comes from learning alongside other students. There is a unique opportunity to share learning with other public service students e.g. nursing, midwifery, health visitors, police etc.  A range of professionals contribute to the delivery of the programme.



Students will be exposed to a range and variety of assessment methods which are designed to identify intellectual, personal and practical skills. Assessment strategies will ensure that the content, outcomes and level of the modules are measured in a fair and transparent manner, and will incorporate holistic assessment procedures as determined by the College of Social Work (2012). The range of assessment methods reflects the nature of the programme which leads to a professional qualification. Students are required to pass all modules in each year before progressing to the next year. Curriculum design supports a range of assessment methods throughout the course. 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 include essays, presentations, exams, portfolios, poster presentations and critical appraisal.

The PCF sets out the profession's expectations of what social workers should be able to do at each stage of their career and professional development. It will be used as a formal process for supporting judgements within the assessments about the students' progression in a holistic way for each capability, which will take place at three formal stages during the three year programme, namely: 

  1. Readiness for direct practice (as a precursor to the progression to the first practice placement in year 2).
  2. End of first placement (at the end of year 2 and as a precursor to the progression to year 3) and 
  3. End of last placement (at the end of year 3 and as a precursor to the progression of entry to their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). as a qualified social worker).

It is anticipated that the comprehensive and holistic assessment strategies adopted will support the high quality of learning delivered, and provide for a rigorous and robust threshold entry to qualified professional social work practice.

Assessment of both practice placements will be undertaken by a suitably qualified practice educator who is a registered social worker (TCSW, Practice Educator Professional Standards, 2012).

In order to work as a practising social worker, students must develop skills in analysing their own and others’ actions and motivations. Students who are awarded the BA (Hons) Social Work will typically possess the following characteristics:

  • A systematic understanding of the knowledge base 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 all modules in each academic year before they can progress to the next level. Satisfactory completion of the Readiness for Practice module (level 4) is a requirement before progressing to the Practice Placement 1 module. Students are required to have 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 (https://ganymede2.chester.ac.uk/view.php?title_id=230365)

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