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BA (Honours) Social Work (Scotland)

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. You also need a qualifying degree. The OU’s BA (Honours) Social Work (Scotland) is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), and successful completion entitles you to apply for registration as a qualified social worker, working in either children’s or adult services. To take this course, you need to be working in a social care agency in Scotland, whether or not you’re sponsored by your employer.

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
  • Learn to deal with difficult and sensitive issues while working within a complex professional system.
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Degree

Course code
Q41
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.
480
How long it takes
Part time – 8 years
Full time – 4 years
Time limit – 10 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?

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

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Course details

This qualification has four stages, each comprising 120 credits (equivalent to one year's full-time university study) – but most students already have knowledge and skills equivalent to Stage 1, and can enter the programme at Stage 2.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 develops essential underpinning knowledge and study skills – including digital and information literacy – and offers 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, and as you progress you’ll draw on your learning time and again.


Compulsory modules (120 credits)

  • An introduction to health and social care (K101)

    Explore through real-life case studies how we give or receive health and social care services in residential and community settings, hospitals, clinics or GP surgeries.

  • Introducing the social sciences (DD102)

    This module is an ideal introduction to the social sciences – psychology, social policy and criminology, geography and environment, politics and international studies, economics and sociology.

Stages 2–4 (360 credits)

At Stage 2, you’ll continue on a learning journey through the foundations of good social work practice – picking up crucial skills and knowledge along the way. Key concepts around communication will open up your thinking about how theory informs and underpins professional ‘practice’, and you’ll develop your understanding of child care and protection. As you progress through Stages 3 and 4, you’ll continually make connections between your studies and your own experiences, exploring issues such as working with older people and the legal frameworks that shape and regulate decision-making. You’ll attend workshops and practice placements, becoming increasingly confident, critical, analytical and reflective in your practice. On graduation, you’ll be able to apply to register with the professional body in Scotland as a qualified social worker.



The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


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; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study. It’s not just study completed at a university that can be considered, you can transfer study from a wide range of professional qualifications as well. A full list of the qualifications and institutions we can consider for credit transfer can be found on our credit transfer website.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide original evidence of your previous study. We will compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen qualification and inform you of any award.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download 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 (Scotland) degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony and to apply to the Scottish Social Services Council for formal registration as a social worker. 

The class of degree (first, second or third class honours) depends on the grades you achieve in 240 credits from graded OU modules above SCQF Level 7, of which at least 120 credits must be from modules at SCQF Level 10. 

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.


Compare this course

Entry requirements

This degree course is restricted to students working in social care in Scotland.

For sponsored students entry has to be made through the employing agency: you cannot apply direct to the OU. A limited number of places are available to non-sponsored students – for more information contact The Open University in Scotland.

Employing agencies and individuals who are interested in this degree should contact the Social Work Co-ordinator at The Open University in Scotland on 0131 226 3851 or email scotland@open.ac.uk.

All candidates for the degree must:

  • have qualifications in English and Maths at the level of Standard Grade Two 
  • show that they can communicate clearly in spoken and written English
  • demonstrate that they have the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be social workers
  • take part in an interview
  • register with the SSSC as a student social worker – this includes a Disclosure Scotland check.

Many students receive credit transfer for study completed elsewhere, enabling them to start this programme at Stage 2. However, some may need to complete additional modules at Stage 1.

If you are a non-sponsored student, you must have completed Stages 1 and 2 either by passing the specified OU modules or by being awarded credit transfer for previous study elsewhere. Following a successful interview and selection, you will then enter the degree at Stage 3.

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

Help! I'm not sure I'm ready!

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If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don't worry! You can get started with an Access module – fascinating courses designed to introduce subject areas, build your confidence and prepare you for further study.

For this qualification, we recommend:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This is a multidisciplinary module that allows you to develop your subject knowledge and your general study skills. It provides an excellent introduction to a wide range of subject areas, including children and young people, health, law, management, psychology and social sciences.

The module is divided into four blocks:

Block 1: Individuals

In this block, each discipline discusses individuals from a subject-specific perspective or point of view. In Social sciences the individual is presented in relation to cultural and group identities. In Childhood, identity formation is demonstrated through relationships and maturation processes. Lifestyle choices are discussed in relation to individual biological and psychological factors in Health. Psychology takes you on a journey through ways of understanding how individuals think and perceive their world, while Law takes a life course approach to individual rights and responsibilities. Finally, Management takes a very practical view of how you as an individual can begin to organise and develop yourself and others.

Block 2: Families and relationships

Here you’ll encounter a range of perspectives from each of the subject areas on the theme of families and relationships. In Childhood, family and relationships are presented from the point of view of an adult who wants to understand more about the lives of children and young people. The Health perspective explores how family life affects health and considers the care demands on families during illness. Psychology reveals how interaction is key to understanding how families are built and sometimes fall apart. You’ll explore division of labour in families from a Social sciences perspective, and how the nature of family life shapes life chances. In considering parental rights and responsibilities, Law discusses serious cases such as child neglect and abuse. Finally, Management looks at relationships at work and how to manage them effectively.

Block 3: Organisations and communities

This block begins with a Management perspective on organisations, in which you will consider characteristics typical of organisations, including structure, culture, and management tools. Also, you’ll discover how adults support transitions for children and their families when children enter school for the first time or move between different educational settings. In Health, the school is again a focus, along with the built environment, this time for considering health influences and interventions. Having approached organisations and communities from a largely experiential perspective, the block then presents Law, and how rights and responsibilities influence and constrain practice in organisational settings. In Psychology, you consider how roles and groups develop within organisations, coming to a working understanding of certain observable behaviours. Finally, Social Sciences present how people can organise themselves to bring about social change.

Block 4: Society

This block opens with an examination of how social scientists view and consider society, including different types of cultures and how aspects of different cultures spread to different countries. The concept of multiple self is discussed in Psychology, showing how individuals can adapt and change when moving to a different culture. Next, you will consider the growth of fast food diets in Western society, their effect on children and young people, and action to foster healthy eating habits. Health is considered by debating the impact of government policy on the health and well being of society. In Law, you’ll consider the laws of negligence and duty of care within society today, drawing on real life cases that English law courts have judged.

The module includes a DVD and website which include further study materials and resources as well as online quizzes and interactive exercises to help test your understanding.

As you study this module you will build your confidence and develop your study skills, including:

  • reading and interpreting information
  • producing written communications
  • time management and organisational skills
  • problem solving.

You will also have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with audio and visual material, using online forums and searching the internet for information. This experience will provide you with a gentle introduction to using a computer to support your study, and will equip you with the basic computing skills you will need for the next step in your studies.

Please note that you will need access to the internet and a computer to study and pass this module. You will need to use a computer early on in the module but not straight away, so if you don’t currently have one you’ve got time to make arrangements. You can use your own computer or one at a library or drop-in centre.

On successful completion of this module you will receive an Open University Access Module Certificate.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
6 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Your next step

Call our Student Registration & Enquiry Service on +44 (0)1908 659253. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. Or come and meet us at an event near you.

This course is not available to students resident in England.
An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

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 professional qualification required for all social workers in the UK. Once you’ve successfully completed the degree course, you’ll be entitled to apply for registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as a social worker.

Accreditation

Once you’ve successfully completed this degree course, you’ll be entitled to apply to register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as a 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.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

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 – including 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 (note that 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.

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.

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