Drawing on current research across the social sciences, government guidance, and legislative frameworks, this degree focuses on the issues that are key in facilitating your professional and academic development as a social worker.
Why study BA Social Work at Goldsmiths?
- The BA is both an academic and professional qualification, and is therefore ideal if you're interested in pursuing a professional career in social work
- We'll equip you with the knowledge, values and skills you'll need to practise as a reflective and ethical social worker, equipped for the challenges of contemporary social work practice
- Our social work programmes are highly regarded by potential employers within London and further afield, and our graduates have an excellent record of securing employment; they've gone on to work in local authority children's services departments, adult services departments, and independent sector and voluntary sector agencies such as the NSPCC, Family Action and Mind
- We're ranked second in London in the Guardian University Guide 2015's league table for social work
- The degree includes practice placements in two settings and with different service user groups, so you'll be able to gain invaluable real world experience. In 2016/17 96% students completed both their first and second placements in a local authority team ( 65% were provided by South East London Teaching Partnership employers).
- You will cover areas of human growth and development; community; needs and services; law and organisational contexts of social work; and research methods. Specific learning will include mental health and disability, and social work processes of assessment, planning, intervention and review
- We'll encourage you to think deeply about human rights and social justice, and to embed these values in your practice
- Social work education at Goldsmiths has a long and distinguished record – you'll be taught by established social work academics and associate lecturers who have considerable research and/or practice experience in their fields
- The degree also prepares you according to the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), the Quality Assurance Agency subject benchmark for social work, and the Department of Health's requirements for social work training
South East London teaching partnership
The Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies at Goldsmiths has entered into a formal Teaching Partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the London Borough of Southwark and the London Borough of Lewisham for the delivery of social work education at Goldsmiths.
As a result, social work practitioners, from all levels within these three local authorities, are involved in the delivery of the BA in Social Work, delivering or co-delivering lectures, workshops, seminars and group work.
This means that there is a very close relationship with practice with many opportunities for students to hear directly from social work practitioners about statutory social work. You will be encouraged to make links between anti-oppressive practice, the social work values, the legal framework, theories, methods and skills of intervention and social work practice throughout the course.
Excellence in practice and teaching
Goldsmiths has a long tradition of social work education, and our programmes are internationally regarded as excellent in both practice learning and critical studies. They also have a strong focus on anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.
We have a lively programme of research taking place in areas as diverse as:
- the links between child abuse and domestic violence
- multi-family group work with teenage parents
- service user perspectives and transnational adoption
- mental health social workers' use of mental health laws and coercion
- equality and diversity in social work education
- reflective professional social work practice
- evaluative approaches to service provision
Our research informs and underpins our teaching and students are invited to share our interests as well as develop their own through undertaking a small scale research project and developing their research mindedness in a final year extended essay.
The degree has an intake of up to 40 students each year. Goldsmiths is committed in its policy and practice to equal treatment of applicants and students irrespective of their race, culture, religion, gender, disability, health, age or sexual orientation. We particularly welcome applications from members of minority groups. The teaching includes lectures and workshops with the entire student group and small study groups, skills labs and seminars of between 10 and 14 students. A significant proportion of the course takes the form of small study groups, skills labs and seminars.
The BA is a full-time course. It is not possible to study the course part-time. It is not possible for students to transfer from a social work course at another university onto the second or third year of the Goldsmiths BA in Social Work course.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Tom Henri
Modules & structure
The degree aims to provide you with the value, knowledge and skill base for social work practice, and is organised around study units, workshops, lectures/seminar courses, projects and private study. The teaching and learning opportunities centre on the key areas of the social sciences and their application to social work practice, as well developing your intellectual capacity, and the skills necessary to get you ready for practice. There is an expectation that you attend at least 85% of all aspects of the programme.
The structured learning includes specific learning in:
- human growth and development, mental health and disability
- Social work theories and methods; assessment, planning, intervention and review
- communication skills with children, adults and those with particular communication needs
- law, and partnership working across professional disciplines and agencies
- social science research methods, including ethical issues
Practice is central to the degree, and there will be practice placements in two settings and with different service user groups (eg child care and mental health). The learning on the programme builds over the three years and prepares you to apply your knowledge to practice situations. We work closely with a range of practice organisations in the Greater London Area. The placements are allocated by our placement tutor and matched with individual profiles. In some instances you may have to travel long distances to your placement organisation. You will need to cover the cost of travel to your placement. You will be expected to work the core hours of the placement agency.
At Goldsmiths we recognise:
- the unique contribution that all students bring as individuals to the programme in terms of their personal qualities and life experiences
- that professional training builds on the uniqueness of each individual by facilitating the student’s exploration of the values, knowledge base and skills of social work practice
- that it is the student’s responsibility not only to develop a technical acquaintance with the framework of social work practice but also to demonstrate competence through its application in practice
- that social workers are at the interface of society’s attempts to promote welfare
Social workers have a dual responsibility to act within the state’s welfare framework and also to recognise the pervasive influence of oppression and discrimination at an individual and a structural level in most of the situations in which they work. We will prepare you for this professional responsibility.
At Level 4 study you are introduced to social work as a professional activity and an academic discipline. You consider key concepts such as the nature of need, community, social work services, and the significance of the service user perspective. Major theoretical approaches within the social sciences and their relationship to social work will be investigated, as will studies in professional development for practice, where you will have the opportunity to shadow a qualified social worker.
You will study the following modules:
|Introduction to Social Work||30 credits|
|Community Needs and Services||30 credits|
|Introduction to Social Sciences||30 credits|
|Professional Development for Practice||30 credits|
At Level 5 you address issues of life-span development, and are given a grounding in methods of intervention.
Your assessed practice consists of 70 days in a student social work role; this gives you the chance to develop your communication and social work practice skills with service users, and to work in partnership across professional disciplines and agencies. You are also provided with an introduction to assessment in social work and to the links between social work theory and practice.
You'll take the following modules:
|Human Growth and Development||30 credits|
|Assessment in Social Work||30 credits|
|Social Work Skills and Methods||30 credits|
|Social Work Practice Learning Year 1||30 credits|
Study at Level 6 gives you an overview of the legal and organisational context of social work, and extends your knowledge and skills in one of the two main specialist areas of social work practice: working with children and families, or working with adults in need.
A theory and practice module looks at methods of intervention and theories applied to a particular area of social work, while another assessed practice element enables you to meet the professional requirements for social work training via 100 days of practice under the guidance of a practice educator.
You are expected to demonstrate competence across a range of standards and this is formally assessed. The learning on the degree builds over the three years and prepares you to apply that knowledge to practice situations.
|Law and the Organisational Context of Social Work||30 credits|
|Skills and Methods in Social Work: Specialist Area of Practice||60 credits|
|Social Work Practice Learning 2||90 credits|
You undertake a number of assessed practice placements. You are required to spend 170 days in practice settings.
In Year 1, you are expected to complete 2 days shadowing an experienced Social Worker as well as a period of voluntary work, both of which you arrange.
In Year 2 there is a practice placement lasting 70 days and in Year 3 the practice placement lasts 100 days. These placements are arranged through the allocation system devised by the College. The practice placements will be supported by 30 days for the development of practice skills.
You have an identified Practice Educator for each of the two practice placements. Most of our placements are located in South East London, so if you live elsewhere you will need to travel.
We have partnership agreements with the following organisations for placements in social work:
- Royal Borough of Greenwich (Children and Families, and Adults)
- London Borough of Southwark (Children and Familes, and Adults)
- London Borough of Lewisham (Children and Families, and Adults)
- London Borough of Brent (Children and Families, and Adults)
- London Borough of Croydon (Adults)
- Tri-Borough: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, City of Westminster and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (Adults)
- London Borough of Lambeth (Children and Families)
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Children and Families, and Adults)
- City of London NSPCC (London Region)
We also work with about 20-30 voluntary/private social care agencies each year. Here are some that we've worked with recently:
- Equinox Care Mental Health Services
- Body and Soul HIV Service
- Jamma Umoja Family Assessment Services
- Advocacy in Greenwich Learning Disability Service
- The Cassel Centre Mental Health Service
- Lewisham Refugee Network
- Turning Point Mental Health Services
- Carers Lewisham
- International Care Assessment Support Services, Jamaica
You will be expected to work the normal working hours of the agency so should be available between the core hours of 8.30am and 6pm, although occasionally you may be required to work evenings. You will be responsible for the cost of your travel to and from your practice placement.
Depending on where you live in London, you may need to travel up to two hours to your practice placement. If you live outside of London, your travel time may be considerably longer.
Assessment is through a combination of written assignments/essays, presentations, role play, written reflection, portfolio, practice placements, practice placement portfolios, seen examination, take home examination papers and extended essays.
Social work is a regulated profession. From 1 August 2012, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) took on the regulation of social workers and the regulation of the performance of social work modules. This means that social work students will need to adhere to the standards set out in the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Guidance on conduct and ethics for students (HCPC 2009), and work towards meeting the HCPC Standards of Proficiency - Social workers in England (HCPC 2012). These are the standards social work students are expected to demonstrate at the end of their last placement/ qualifying level.
Credits and levels of learning
An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
You must also have:
- Grade C/Grade 4 or above in GCSE English and Mathematics or certificated equivalent (eg Level 2 Key or Functional Skills Literacy or Numeracy)
- A minimum of four months' full-time (or part-time equivalent) relevant work experience: one months' experience when you are applying, and a further three months by the time you start the degree. Please make sure you read our work experience guide for more information about the experience that we accept
You should also be able to demonstrate that you can communicate clearly and accurately in spoken and written English.
Where required, our Admissions Office will direct you to acceptable equivalency tests for those who do not meet the required grades or levels.
Please note that, due to the volume of applications we receive, applicants who do not meet the entry requirements will not be considered.
Fitness to train
Applicants to social work programmes are asked to disclose any criminal record, disciplinary record, significant periods of time off work and significant health problems in writing after interview. If we wish to make an applicant an offer of a place on the course, an anonymised version of the applicant’s written disclosure will be reviewed by a panel which considers the applicant’s suitability for social work training. This process is additional to normal ‘fitness to train’ processes.
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2
If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.
For this programme we require:
IELTS 6.0 with a 6.0 in writing and no element lower than 5.5
If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.
Read more about our general entrance requirements.
The Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
has human relationships at its heart
Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.
We offer programmes in Community Studies, Social Work, and Therapeutic Studies.
Our degrees are informed by our commitment to social justice and applied practices – whether you want to:
- understand and challenge the ways that vulnerable individuals and groups are disadvantaged and marginalised
- become a social worker, community and youth worker, therapist or counsellor
- change people’s lives through dance, drama and music
You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.
Find out more about the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.
Learning & teaching
The Goldsmiths Social Work programmes are internationally regarded as both practice-focused and critical, with strong regard for the need for anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice. Our academic staff have extensive experience in a wide range of Social Work settings with a diverse cross-section of service user groups. Teaching in Social Work at Goldsmiths actively encourages and promotes opportunities to reflect on experience in the field, and for academic, professional and personal growth.
Active and reflective learning is increasingly regarded as critical in the education and training of professionals. Social Work at Goldsmiths pioneered these methods of adult learning in the early 1990s.
On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills. You'll also be encouraged to reflect on your learning and practice, and will attend workshops and skills labs.
This is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.
This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of that are highly sought after by employers.
You'll also develop professional competencies through your practice placements, which will provide you with the core skills you need to be an effective social worker.
Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:
- Skills labs
- Independent learning
- Reflective learning
- Practice learning
Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.
Skills & careers
The programmes here at Goldsmiths are both practice-focused and critical and aim to equip you for the challenges of contemporary social work practice.
Key skills you will acquire during your studies include:
- communicating with a range of service users, carers and professionals
- assessing need, risk and strengths
- producing high quality reports
- planning, co-ordinating and evaluating services
- partnership and multi disciplinary working
Careers and employability
Our students have been successful in a range of areas, from postgraduate research to employment in local authority children’s services departments, adult services departments, independent sector and voluntary sector agencies such as the NSPCC, Family Action and Mind.
Graduates from July 2013 have been very successful in securing statutory social work posts, with many securing a statutory social work post before graduating from the BA in Social Work course. Here are some examples of the social work posts they have been offered and accepted:
- Looked After Children's Team
- Royal Borough of Greenwich Children In Need Team
- Surrey County Council Referral and Assessment Team
- London Borough of Southwark Safeguarding and Support Team
- London Borough of Haringey Family Social Work Service
- London Borough of Lewisham Community Mental Health Team
- Surrey County Council Referral and Assessment Team
- London Borough of Lambeth Direct Payments Team
- London Borough of Lewisham Adults Social Worker
- London Borough of Bexley Disabled Adults Team
- London Borough of Croydon Reablement Service
- London Borough of Southwark
You can learn more about the career options open to you after graduating on our Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies careers pages. Find out more about general employability at Goldsmiths.
Fees & funding
Find out about our undergraduate tuition fees and funding opportunities.
Bursaries for second and third year students
There are a limited number of NHS social work bursaries for the second and third year of the course available to ‘home’ students (students ordinarily resident in England). The number of bursaries has been capped (this applies to all BA Social Work programmes in England), which may mean that not every student on the degree will receive a bursary. Each university has been asked to nominate students for an NHS bursary. Goldsmiths will nominate students for bursaries on the basis of their selection score and the inclusion criteria set out by government guidance. This happens at the end of the first year of study.
If you are nominated by Goldsmiths you must apply to the NHS Business Services Authority to ascertain whether you meet their eligibility criteria. The bursary includes a basic grant and tuition fees if you are not subject to variable fees.
Other funding opportunities
In addition, some of our stakeholder agencies advertise bursaries for students who are going into the third year of a BA and intend to work with children and their families upon qualifying. The exact terms of bursaries differ between local authorities. They usually offer funding for one year and a statutory placement in that local authority. In return, the student must take up employment with that local authority when he or she qualifies and stay with the local authority for a specified length of time (usually one or two years). Recently bursaries have been offered by, for example, London Borough of Southwark in the South East London area. They are open to competition and usually require a written application by the student, a reference from the student's tutor, and an interview. When these bursary opportunities become available we circulate details to our Social Work students.
All students are eligible for a fixed contribution towards practice learning opportunity related expenses.
We strongly recommend that you investigate funding prior to applying to ensure that you do not miss any deadlines for funding applications. Goldsmiths offers a number of scholarships and bursaries for students starting an undergraduate course.
How to apply
When to apply
This is a popular programme, so we encourage you to apply early, in the autumn/winter of the year before you wish to study. We do not accept deferred entry.
You may not hear from us regarding the progress of your application for several weeks. Applications received after the UCAS deadline of 15 January may not be considered.
Tips for your application
In your application you'll need to tell us about your academic qualifications and your work experience.
It is vitally important that you enter full details of your social work-related work experience (both paid and voluntary) in the 'Employment' section of the UCAS form. Please include the name of the organisation you worked for, the exact length of your experience, and how many hours per week you worked (eg 'March 2014 to Oct 2015, 3 hours each week').
You should then expand on this experience in the personal statement section of the form. Please explain clearly:
- What role you held
- How long you held the position for
- What time commitment was involved
- Who the service user group was
- The name of the organisation you were working for
For example: 'Volunteer Advocate, April 2012 to September 2014, 3 hours per week, X advocacy service for disabled people'.
If you don't provide this information your application won't be considered.
It's also important that you explain what you've learned from your work experience, and how this has contributed to your understanding of social work roles and tasks. You should also reflect on what you've learned about yourself and the service user group(s) that you have worked with. Please make sure your personal statement is well written and demonstrates your academic ability.
Please make sure you read our work experience guide for more information about the experience that we accept.
If you meet the entry requirements you'll be invited to a selection day where you'll complete a written test, an individual interview, and a group discussion.
There are six stages to the selection of students:
- When your application is received at the Goldsmiths Admissions Office, we will check that you meet the minimum entry requirements and have provided all the required information, including a reference(s). You are also required to provide scanned copies of your qualifications (alongside official translations where original documents are not in English) within 14 days of being requested. If you have not met the entry requirements your application will be rejected at this stage. If you have not provided all the required information your application may also be rejected.
- The second stage is a written test at Goldsmiths. The written test is based on a text on a social work-related topic or area of practice. You will be required to reflect on a text in relation to social work. The purpose of the written test is to provide evidence of: your ability to communicate clearly in written English; your commitment to core social work values and your capacity for critical reflection. Your test paper is then assessed and on the basis of this assessment we will decide whether to invite you to progress to the next stage of the assessment process.
- The third stage involves a role play, an individual interview and a group discussion.
You will be informed when you arrive at Goldsmiths for your interview as to what is required from you for the role play. The individual interview will consist of a reflective critical discussion on your role play performance. The individual interview is usually led by a panel which may include a member of the social work teaching team, a social work practitioner from one of our stakeholder agencies, and/or a service user from our Service User and Carer Steering Group. The interview will cover a number of areas (your understanding of the social work role, your interpersonal skills and your ability to reflect on your experience, values and motivation for a career in social work) and each of your answers will be rated or scored. The interview will last about 20 minutes.
For the group exercise you will be given a question on a topic that is relevant to social work and will be asked to discuss this for 20 minutes in a group. The aim of this is to assess your spoken English, your ability to express your own views and to respond appropriately to the expressed views of others, as well as your awareness of your values.
Where applicants live outside the UK and are unable to attend for selection in person, it may be possible to conduct written tests via the internet and an interview and role play via Skype.
Following this a decision whether to offer you a place on the course will be made based on your total score from the written test, the role play, individual interview and the group discussion. You will receive a letter from the Admissions Office advising you of the outcome of the interview. If an offer is made the letter will state whether this is a conditional or unconditional offer e.g. conditional on exam results. Please note that there may be a delay before you receive this letter. We are not able to tell you our decision either at the interview or afterwards over the telephone.
As part of the selection process you will be required to complete of a self-declaration form regarding suitability for practice which encompasses offending, health and work disciplinary history.
After this happens there are a further three main stages:
- It is a requirement of entry onto the course that students possess an enhanced check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Therefore, any offer of a place will be conditional on a satisfactory DBS enhanced disclosure, which students are required to pay for (£56 as of September 2015).
- It is a requirement of entry onto the course that students possess a satisfactory medical check. Therefore, any offer of a place will be conditional on demonstrating that you are physically and mentally fit to train as a social worker. You will therefore have to complete a health declaration form.
- You will need to demonstrate that you have satisfied any conditions of your offer e.g. by providing Admissions with your exam certificate(s), transcript and any other written information Admissions may request. If you have not demonstrated that you have satisfied the condition(s) of your offer by 1 September , your offer of a place on the course may be withdrawn.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Disclosure
Certain types of criminal convictions and cautions may have implications for entry to study Social Work as well as practice placements and subsequent employment. Applicants will be invited to disclose any charges pending, any convictions and cautions and to complete a Declaration of Suitability for Social Work form. If you disclose a criminal record at interview, we will need to consult our stakeholder group on whether you are suitable to join the course. This process is likely to delay our decision on whether to offer you a place on the course by several weeks.