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BA (Honours) Social Work (Northern Ireland)

Social workers support and protect some of society’s most deprived and vulnerable people. It’s immensely challenging and rewarding work, requiring a high level of motivation and commitment. Our BA (Honours) Social Work (Northern Ireland) is approved by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), and successful completion entitles you to apply for registration as a social worker. As part of this work-based programme, you’ll need to have experience in either working or volunteering in a social work or a social care agency. You’ll also need the support of a relevant social work/care employer throughout your degree.

Key features of the course

  • Continue in your employment while you study, earning while you learn
  • Study through work-based and distance learning
  • Develop the knowledge and practical skills that underpin effective practice
  • Improve your career progression and opportunities within social work

Course Summary

Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code
R61
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 7 years
Study method
Distance learning
& Practice-based learning
Practice-based learning is learning delivered in partnership with employers to support their staff development aims.

We’ve blended our unique distance learning approach with learning undertaken in your workplace:

 

  • A flexible model with the potential to earn as you learn.
  • Develop highly relevant skills and knowledge to advance your career.
  • Allows employers to support employees to develop within the organisation.
  • Recognises both academic achievement and attainment of work competencies.
  • Provides a setting for the assessment of professional competencies, where this is a requirement for your qualification.

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a module introducing health and social care, followed by a module which introduces social work practice, the key roles, standards of conduct and communication skills for social workers.
  • Stage 2 starts with a module covering the law and social work, and is followed by a practice module which includes a 85-day placement.
  • At Stage 3, you’ll choose one module from a choice of four options, and conclude your degree with a practice module where you will undertake a 100-day placement.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in with an OU level 1 module, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

In Stage 1 you are introduced to the social work process, theory and reflective practice. You’ll gain fascinating perspectives on contemporary society and how we organise social care. It’s the ideal start to your journey towards registration as a professional social worker, as it allows you to demonstrate your social work values, skills and knowledge in order to prepare you for your first practice placement.
ModulesCredits
You'll start your degree with:
Introducing health and social care (K102)60
You'll also study:
Foundations for social work practice (K113)60

Stage 2 (120 credits)

Stage 2 introduces you to legislation and its application for social workers across a range of practice areas including adults, children and family services. You’ll be introduced to a broader knowledge base, and expected to show how you can select and apply social work theory and models of intervention to your own practice. You'll also demonstrate capacity of working in situations with greater complexity and risk. Ultimately, you will improve your understanding of the key roles that social workers undertake within the social work process.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Social work law (K271)60
Applied social work practice (K216)60

Stage 3 (120 credits)

At Stage 3 you’ll choose one area of interest to study from four options, then finish your degree with a practice-based module. You will develop a critical approach to theory and to your practice. There is an expectation that you will become an increasingly confident, analytical, and reflective learner and an independent practitioner. After successfully completing your degree, you can apply to register with the social work regulator in Northern Ireland and begin your career as a newly qualified social worker.
ModulesCredits
You'll choose one from:
Approaches to mental health (K314)60
Investigating health and social care (K323)60
Leading, managing, caring (K318) – planned for October 202160
Young lives, parenting and families (KE322)60
You'll complete your degree with:
Critical social work practice (K315)60

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 23 September 2020.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Social Work (Northern Ireland) uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and producing diagrams and screenshots
  • undertaking practical work
  • finding external/third party material online

In addition to the above, there may be entry requirements for this qualification, which include medical criteria, set by the regulatory body in Northern Ireland.   Visit Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) for more information.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.

For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) Social Work (Northern Ireland) degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Entry requirements

Although some modules in this degree are available to all students, the full degree programme is at present restricted to students who are being sponsored in their practice by their employing agency.

If sponsorship isn’t available to you right now, you may wish to study our Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care while you secure support from an employer.

To study this degree, you must also:

  • have GCSE at grades A*-C in English and mathematics or certified equivalent 
  • meet the UCAS tariff threshold of 96 points or equivalent
  • show that you can communicate clearly in spoken and written English (with and IELTS score of 7 if English is not your first language)
  • demonstrate that you have the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be a social worker
  • obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from Access Northern Ireland
  • complete a health check
  • produce a written personal statement in your application
  • take part in an interview.

Entry to the degree must be through your employing agency; you cannot apply direct to the OU. If you volunteer with a social care agency, they may be able to sponsor you on to the programme, but they must be a designated site for providing social work placements.

Start dates

October 2020

February 2021

Agencies and individuals interested in taking part in the programme are invited to contact us at ireland-social-work@open.ac.uk for more information. Students who get a place on the degree course can pay their own fees or be funded by their employer, or a combination of both.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week, plus work-based learning.
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to an OU level 1 module. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You'll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

This course is not available to students resident in England.

Skills for career development

This degree will develop the skills needed to work with individuals, families, carers, groups, communities and other professionals, and you’ll be able to demonstrate to employers your professional competence in social work practice. Employers sponsoring staff on this degree have commented that:

  • OU graduates are enthusiastic social workers who are well equipped to provide high quality interventions with service users
  • a very high percentage of their OU qualified staff remain within their organisation and progress to more senior roles.

Career relevance

An honours degree in social work is now the minimum professional qualification required for all social workers in the UK.

Accreditation

Once you’ve successfully completed this degree course, you’ll be entitled to apply for registration with Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) and begin your career as an AYE qualified social worker.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • Social worker
  • Care home manager
  • Probation officer
  • Prison officer
  • Lecturer
  • Adult guidance worker
  • Advice worker
  • Careers adviser
  • Charity officer
  • Community development worker
  • Equality and diversity officer
  • Counsellor
  • Health promotion specialist
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth worker.

Register

Unfortunately, this qualification is not available to students resident in England.

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