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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Social Work


Social workers are professionals whose job is to work with people experiencing difficulties in their personal and family lives. They deal with many different issues arising, for example, from poverty and deprivation, or relationship problems in families, or drug abuse. They arrange care for adults with disabilities and older people, work with health workers in hospitals and the community, and assist the courts in dealing with people who commit offences.

The main aims of Social Work at The University of Edinburgh are two-fold: to prepare social workers for professional practice, and in doing so, to improve the lives of those who use social work services. Our degree programmes are approved by the Scottish Social Services Council, the social work regulatory body in Scotland. 

Degrees Offered

Undergraduate - BSc (Social Work) with Honours

Programme of Study

The BSc (Social Work) comprises two years of foundation studies in the social sciences followed by two years of professional education and training. In the first two years, students take four courses in social work plus other outside subjects. The social work courses provide an introduction to policy and practice in social work, as well as covering the history of social work and its place in society, and key research studies in social work. Towards the end of the second year, students apply for entry to the second half of the degree programme. Those selected on the basis of suitability for social work proceed to the professional part of the course for two more years.

Students who do not wish to progress to the professional course, or who are not selected to do so, transfer to the main social sciences degree courses of BSc or MA (one or two years respectively).

The final two years are spent in preparation for practice. Students spend about half their time in professional social work settings, in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, where their work is supervised by a qualified practice teacher. The rest of the time is spent in the university, in classes which cover everything from the law to policy and practice as it relates to social work. All students undertake an honours dissertation which relates to an aspect of social work practice.


The BSc (Social Work) degree provides social workers with the necessary qualification for all aspects of professional social work practice. In addition, social work graduates often move into community work and health related settings, as well as into training and consultancy posts in the voluntary and statutory sectors.


Ruth Forbes
0131 651 1485

Social Work