This qualification has four stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll begin Stage 1 with two introductory modules – one with a focus on health and social care and one with a focus on the social sciences.
- Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study a module on childcare and protection followed by a practice-based module.
- Stage 3 consists of a module on the law and social work followed by a practice-based module where you’ll undertake a 100-day placement.
- Finally, in Stage 4, you’ll study either a module with a focus on investigating health and social care or mental health, and complete your degree with another 100 day social work practice placement.
Stage 1 develops essential underpinning knowledge and study skills – including digital and information literacy – and offers 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.
If you already have the knowledge and skills equivalent to Stage 1, you may be able to enter the programme at Stage 2.
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.
Stage 3 study will help you understand the key roles that social workers undertake and the relevant knowledge, values and skills of the social work process. You’ll also cover a range of legal issues related to social care and social work practice including children and family services, youth justice, community care and mental health.
At Stage 4, you'll become an increasingly confident, critical, analytical and reflective practitioner, and an independent learner. You'll start by either focusing on adulthood and our ageing society or mental health, and will complete your degree with a practice-based module. After successfully completing your studies, you can apply to register with the professional body in Scotland and begin your career as a qualified social worker.
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.
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 (Scotland) 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 are entry requirements for this qualification which include medical criteria; the regulatory body for the BA (Honours) in Social Work Scotland (the SSSC) has guidance
on health and disability relating to fitness for professional practice.
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
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
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 evidence of your previous study.
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.
The class of degree (first, upper second, lower 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.
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.
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.
This degree course is restricted to students working in social care in Scotland.
For sponsored students, entry has to be made through your employing agency – you can't apply direct to the OU. There are a limited number of places are available to independent students.
Employing agencies and individuals who are interested in this degree should contact the Social Work Co-ordinator at The Open University in Scotland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Scottish Social Services Council (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 an independent student, you must have completed Stage 1 either by passing the specified OU modules or by being awarded credit transfer for previous study elsewhere. You will also need to have completed, or at least be registered on, K113 at Stage 2. If you have met these requirements, the Open University in Scotland will contact you to note your interest in the independent route. Following a successful interview and selection, you will then enter the degree at Stage 3 (or Stage 2 if you haven’t completed KE206). If you are still studying K113, your offer will be conditional on you passing it.
Applications close 01 November 2020 (sponsored route)
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- Adult guidance worker
- Advice worker
- Careers adviser
- Charity officer
- Community development worker
- Equality and diversity officer
- Health promotion specialist
- Volunteer coordinator
- Youth worker.