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BA (Honours) Social Work Studies

If you’re already a qualified and registered social worker with a Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), this course enables you to top up to an honours degree in just two years part-time study. It will build on your existing skills and knowledge to prepare you for further challenges in your social work practice. You’ll develop your reflective and evidence-based practice, and the skills needed to critically evaluate social work and social care services. 

This top-up degree gives you credit for your existing social work qualification (credit transfer). Most students with a DipSW qualification will receive the maximum amount of transferred credit (240 credits), enabling them to start the programme at Stage 3. However, if you receive less than the maximum amount, you may need to complete additional modules at Stage 2.

Key features of the course

  • Designed for qualified social workers who do not yet have a degree
  • Continue in your employment while you study, earning while you learn
  • Get credit for your existing qualifications
  • This course is not a qualifying award, and you do not need to be sponsored by your employer.
time is running out to register


Course code


  • 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.
How long it takes
Part time – 2–4 years
Full time – 1–2 years
Time limit – this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017 and you must complete your studies by this date
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?


To register for this qualification, please refer to the entry requirements and contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service (online registration is not available).

Next start date Feb 2015 - Registration closes 08/01/2015
Credit transfer: apply by 04/12/2014

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Course details

This top-up version of our BA (Honours) Social Work Studies degree allows you to enter the course directly at Stage 3, provided that you meet the entry requirements.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

You’ll begin by choosing a module to meet your particular interests, making connections between your studies and your own experiences. Options include child protection, working with older people, and the legal frameworks that shape and regulate decision making. Finally you’ll investigate a project theme, develop an action plan, and explore how you can make positive improvements to your practice. 

Optional module (60 credits)

Select one of:

Compulsory module (60 credits)

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 successful completion of the required modules, you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Social Work Studies degree and will be entitled to use the letters BA (Hons) Soc Wk Stud (Open) after your name. 

Your undergraduate honours degree will be classified either as first-class, upper second-class, lower second-class or third-class. The class of degree is determined by the best grades you achieve in a minimum of 120 and up to 240 credits from modules listed. At least 120 of those credits must come from modules at Level 3.


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.

Entry requirements

To study this top-up degree, you must have successfully completed a professional qualification in social work at a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) that has led to registration as a social worker.

If your existing social work qualification is a DipSW awarded by The Open University, you can contact us now to register. If you studied elsewhere, you’ll need to apply for credit transfer to cover the pre-Stage 3 requirements of this degree. Your claim will be assessed, and if there’s any shortfall of credit at Stage 2, you’ll need to devise an appropriate study plan derived from a list of eligible Stage 2 modules.

You must also provide evidence of current registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (transferred from the General Social Care Council (GSCC)), Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) or Care Council for Wales (CCW).

If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact the Credit Transfer team on 0300 303 5303 or by email.

Please note that this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017 and you must complete your studies by this date.

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.

Your next step

Call our Student Registration & Enquiry Service on 0300 303 0069. 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.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

*The fee information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees information for courses starting between 1 August 2015 – 31 July 2016 will be available in March 2015.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification upfront.
  • If like most OU students studying part time, you study an average of 60 credits a year – you’ll study for six years to complete a degree. Our typical fee for 60 credits is £2,632*.
  • Our current fee is £5,264* – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £15,792* based on our current fees.

Additional costs

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable than you might think. Options include Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you for courses starting before 1 August 2015. Updated information for courses starting after this will be available in March 2015.

How many credits are you planning to study per year? You will need [xxx] credits to complete this qualification

Part time study

Full time study

Do you already hold a degree?

Are you employed?

British Forces

  • Only currently serving members of the British armed forces, who are temporarily and unavoidably working abroad and using BFPO addresses, are eligible to pay UK course fees for the total time spent outside the UK. Other students who are able to use BFPO addresses need to contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service (SRS) Pricing Area Team on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.
* The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees for courses starting from 1 August 2015 will be available in March 2015.

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

Completing an honours degree course in a relevant discipline can enhance your employability skills and future career prospects by clearly demonstrating your commitment to the post-qualifying learning requirements for ongoing registration. This degree is designed to help you develop a sound and critical understanding of policy, theory and practice in health and social care. It will provide you with an opportunity to engage with the challenges facing professionals, service users and policy makers in the UK today.

Career relevance

You may already be employed in a social work or social care setting as a qualified social worker (with, for example, a Diploma in Social Work) but without a degree. Or you may have recently taken a career break, and provided you’ve retained your registration, this degree could help you re-establish your credentials and show your willingness to engage with studies relevant to modern social work practice.

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.

As a qualified and registered social worker this degree will enhance your career prospects within social work. To help you explore some other career paths, 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):

  • 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.


Study plan - Overview
Study plan - Stage 3