BA (Honours) Social Work (Scotland)
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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. You also need a qualifying degree.
The Open University’s BA (Hons) Social Work (Scotland) is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and leads to registration as a qualified social worker. To take this degree course, you need to be working in a social care agency in Scotland whether or not you’re sponsored by your employer. You’ll continue with your employment while you study, earning while you learn.
Studying through work-based and distance learning, you’ll develop the knowledge and practical skills that underpin effective practice, and the ability to deal with difficult and sensitive issues while working within a complex professional system. Towards the end of your studies, specialist options will enable you to focus on particular service user groups and practice areas.
Fees and facts
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Flexible, part-time study through
Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.
For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.
With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.
You can use a degree to:
change careers or progress your current career gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in gain professional recognition go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
This degree course is restricted to students working in social care in Scotland.
For sponsored students entry has to be made through the employing agency: you cannot apply direct to the OU.
Non-sponsored students must apply via The Open University in Scotland.
Employing agencies and individuals who are interested in this degree should contact the Social Work Co-ordinator at The Open University in Scotland on 0131 226 3851 or
All candidates for the degree must:
have a qualification at the level of Standard Grade Two in English and Maths
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 SSSC as a student social worker – this includes a Disclosure Scotland check.
If you are a non-sponsored student, you must have completed Stages 1 and 2 either by passing the specified OU modules or by being awarded credit transfer for previous study elsewhere. Following a successful interview and selection, you will then enter the degree at Stage 3.
Career relevance and employability
The degree will prepare you for practice as you begin your career as a qualified social worker. You’ll have gained the skills needed to work with individuals, families, carers, groups, communities and other professionals, and 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.
There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the
OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication and look at our OU study and your career subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
Choose a pathway and register
It is not possible to apply online to study for this qualification. For more information, read
our entry requirements for this qualification.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
If you have already completed some successful study at higher education level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible, and before you register for this qualification.
If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete this qualification. This may also mean that the next start date and the maximum time limit for this qualification are different to those shown above.
Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
Knowledge and understanding
Practical and professional skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Classification of your degree
On successful completion of the necessary modules, you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Work (Scotland) degree. You will be entitled to use the letters BA (Hons) after your name, and to apply to the Scottish Social Services Council for formal registration as a social worker.
Your honours degree will be classified either as first-class, upper second-class, lower second-class or third-class. The class of degree is determined by 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 will have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our
Essential Documents website.
If you have a disability
Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:
the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
any work-based competency requirements.
Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:
You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007),
Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you
will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you
register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.
The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities
we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move.
As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed
feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online
tutorials, or by phone.
For more information read
Distance learning explained.