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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. The OU offers a work-based distance learning route to the degree. Successful graduates are eligible to apply for registration as a qualified social worker with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), 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. You'll also need to be released from your substantive post to undertake two 100-day placements. In exceptional circumstances, placements within your work setting can be considered but will require the approval of the Social Work Team in Scotland.

Key features of the course

  • Study through work-based and distance learning – this includes undertaking two 100-day work placements
  • Develop the knowledge and practical skills that underpin effective practice
  • Learn to deal professionally with complex, difficult and sensitive issues
  • Improve your career progression 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
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
& 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 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.

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 at Stage 1, 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)

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.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Introducing health and social care (K102)60
Introducing the social sciences (DD102)60

Stage 2 (120 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.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

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.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Social work law (K271)60
Applied social work practice (K216)60

Stage 4 (120 credits)

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.
ModulesCredits
You'll choose one from:
Approaches to mental health (K314)60
Investigating health and social care (K323)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 15 March 2022.


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 (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
  • face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and producing diagrams and screenshots
  • undertaking practical work
  • finding external/third party material online
  • continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays and short answer questions
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree.
In addition to the above, the regulatory body for the BA (Honours) in Social Work Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council (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

Credit transfer

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 course, we’ll award you our BA (Honours) Social Work (Scotland).

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend 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 (SSSC) for formal registration as a social worker.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

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. 


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 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 scotland@open.ac.uk.

All candidates for the degree must:

  • have SCQF level 5 grade C in Maths and English, or equivalent1
  • 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.

1If you do not have SCQF level 5 grade C in English, you can meet this requirement by successfully completing K102 or DD102 before you register for the degree. If you do not have SCQF level 5 grade C in Maths or equivalent, you can take an OU numeracy test which your employer will administer.

Independent students

To be considered for admission to the Independent route you must have successfully completed the modules in Stage 1, and at least be registered on the appropriate module at Stage 2. You could meet this requirement by either studying both modules or a combination of study and credit transfer.

You’ll also need to meet the eligibility criteria and undergo a selection process where you must able to demonstrate an understanding of social care in practice and at least 12 months experience of working directly with service users and carers that can be verified through a reference from your employer. Successful candidates must also meet the SSSC registration conditions.

Start dates

October 2022

February 2023

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.

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 Stage 1 of their qualification. 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 either:

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

Psychology, social science and wellbeing 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 psychology, childhood and youth studies, health and social wellbeing, sport, education and social sciences.

View full details of Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module

How much will it cost?

You can only study this degree if you're resident in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man or Channel Islands.

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 the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Our typical fee for 60 credits is £3,228*.
  • Our typical fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,456*.
  • This qualification includes 120 credits of study with a higher than typical cost.
  • This means, at current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £26,668*.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

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.

Visit our Fees and funding page for a summary of the funding options available.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. 


How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.


Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials

Tutorials throughout the course could be online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Assessment

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.

Exams

  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance; you’ll need to attend one of our many exam centres in the UK or Europe.
  • All exams taking place before 31 December 2023 will be remote exams that you will complete at home or at an alternative location.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

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.

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 for this course

Please see Entry requirements to register for this course as online registration is not available.

Request your Social Work in England and Scotland prospectus

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