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Course type
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.
Credits
360  

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.
How long it takes
Part-time study – 6 years
Full-time study – 3 years
Time limit – 8 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.
Entry requirements
Find out more about
Entry requirements

BA (Honours) Social Work (Wales)

Course code: Q42

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. We offer a distance learning, work-based route to the degree in social work alongside our employer partners. It opens up a host of opportunities to people who, for one reason or another, require a more flexible and individualised approach to social work training. Successful graduates are eligible to apply for registration as qualified social workers with Social Care Wales (SCW).

  • 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 professionally with complex, difficult and sensitive issues.
  • Improve your career progression opportunities within social work.
Course type
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.
Credits
360  

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.
How long it takes
Part-time study – 6 years
Full-time study – 3 years
Time limit – 8 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.
Entry requirements

Find out more about Entry requirements

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 explores the ideas and ways of working with people that underpins social care and social work practice with a range of different groups of people who use services.
  • At Stage 2, you’ll study a module covering the law and social work before taking a practice module, which includes a 90-day placement.
  • Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll choose one module from a choice of four and conclude your degree with a practice module where you will undertake another 90-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 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 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.

Stage 1 modules
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Introducing health and social care (K102)60
Foundations for social care and social work practice (K123)60
K102 has two presentations per year, in February and October. Students who wish to complete their qualification in the shortest possible timeframe of three years will need to choose the February start.

Stage 2 covers 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. You’ll also examine the legal framework that shapes and regulates social care decision-making. You’ll start to apply your learning to your own practice and understand the key roles that social workers undertake and the relevant knowledge, values and skills of the social work process.

Stage 2 modules
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Social work law (K271)60
Contemporary social work practice (K246) – planned for February 202560

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’ll become an increasingly confident, critical, analytical and reflective practitioner and an independent learner. On graduation, you’ll be eligible to apply for registration with Social Care Wales (SCW) 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 14 March 2023.


Accessibility

Our qualifications are as accessible as possible, and we have a comprehensive range of support services. Our BA (Honours) Social Work (Wales) uses a variety of study materials and includes the following elements:

  • Online study – most modules are online; some have a mix of printed and online material. Online learning resources could include websites, audio/video, and interactive activities
  • Online tutorials
  • Group-work
  • Using and producing diagrams and screenshots
  • Practical work
  • Finding external/third-party material online
  • Accessing online catalogues and databases
  • Assessment in the form of short-answer questions, essays, and examinations
  • Feedback – continuous assessment includes feedback from your tutor and using this to improve your performance
  • Pre-determined schedules – we’ll help you to develop your time-management skills
Every module has its own Accessibility Statement with more detailed accessibility information – you’ll find these on individual module descriptions.

Visit our Disability support page to learn about our services.

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 (Wales).

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

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

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

This degree course is restricted to students working or volunteering in social care in Wales.

There are two routes into this qualification, depending on whether you are being sponsored by your employer or studying independently.

For sponsored students, entry must be made through the employing agency.

Independent students must apply via The Open University in Wales.

To study this degree you must have the following:

  • the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be a social worker upon completion of the qualification
  • communication skills equivalent to Level 2 or higher in English or Welsh as specified by the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales; if you have successfully completed K102, you have already met this requirement.
  • application of number skills equivalent to Level 2 or higher as specified by the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales. You will need to produce evidence of your qualification (for example, a certificate or certifying statement of results) as part of your application.
  • an understanding of the Code of Professional Practice for Social Care.
  • a minimum of 455 hours practice in a relevant social care setting (paid or voluntary) which allows you to demonstrate the values and basic skills that correspond to those generally expected of social workers
  • the ability to communicate effectively in written and spoken English or Welsh.

If you are an independent student, in addition to the above, you must have successfully completed the Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care Practice (Wales) (T34) within the last five years. Following selection, you'll then enter the degree at Stage 2.

Start dates

October 2024

February 2025

For more information on the independent or sponsored route, how and when to apply, please contact The Open University in Wales on  +44 (0)29 2047 1170 or email: Wales-social-work@open.ac.uk.

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 our:

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

Fees and funding in England

80% of our students pay nothing upfront by financing their studies with a student loan.

In this section:
Tuition fee
What are my funding options?
Other costs to think about
Additional support

Tuition fee

BA (Honours) Social Work (Wales)

Years of  study

3 years 6 years

Current fee per year in England

£6,924* £3,462*

How we worked out the cost

A degree is worth 360 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 60 credits per year for 6 years. A degree is worth 360 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 120 credits per year for 3 years.

Total fee for qualification at current prices

£20,772*

You’ll fund your modules as you study them – you won’t have to pay for your whole qualification up front

That’s 1/4 less than the cost of an equivalent qualification offered at most other universities in England.

See comparison table

*The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.


What are my funding options?

There are several ways to fund your study, often without paying anything upfront.

Student loan

The most common way for our students to fund their study

  • A student loan is used by 80% of our students.
  • Open to everyone – it’s not means-tested and there’s no age limit.
  • You don’t pay anything upfront. Student Finance England pay your fees directly to the OU for you.
  • You won’t pay back a penny until you earn over £25,000.
  • The amount you repay is tied to how much you earn. For example, if you earn £27,000 you’ll pay just £15.00 per month.

Other options

Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA)

Repay in monthly instalments while you study.


Credit/debit card or bank transfer

Pay before each module starts. You can also combine card or bank transfer payments with other payment methods.


Employer sponsorship

More than 1 in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer.


Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs)

If you’re a serving member of the British Armed Forces (or you’ve recently left), you may be eligible to use ELCs to cover up to 100% of your course fees.

Which funding options could I be eligible for?



Other costs to think about

Your course fees cover your tuition, assessment and study materials, but there are still a few additional costs that can come with studying. If your income is less than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you could get help with some of these costs after you start studying.

  • You’ll need a computer and the internet to access our learning resources and to participate in online tutorials.

Additional support

You may be eligible for:

If you have a disability

  • The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a government grant to cover study support costs if you have a disability. It’s not means-tested, and there’s no age limit. Visit our Supporting students with disabilities page to find out more.
  • If your disability is a result of being injured in, or due to, military service, you could be eligible for our Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund.

Need more information?

Talk through your funding options with one of our advisors

Contact us

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 usually take place online, 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.
  • Most exams take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location.
  • If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description, and you will be required to take your exam in person at one of our exam centres.

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 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 Social Care Wales (SCW) and begin your career as a qualified social worker.

Accreditation

This degree has been approved by Social Care Wales and is compliant with the Welsh Language Standards. Once you’ve successfully completed this degree course, you’ll be entitled to apply to register with Social Care Wales 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 – 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.

Register for this course

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

Request your Social Work in Wales prospectus

Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

Request prospectus