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    An undergraduate qualification .

BA (Honours) Social Work Studies

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Please note that this degree is only available until 31 December 2017. In order to claim this qualification, you must have completed the required 360 credits by this time.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for this qualification please contact the Credit, Qualifications and Ceremonies Centre on +44(0) 1908 653003 or by email .

This degree is for registered social workers with a Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) or similar qualification, who want to top-up to an honours degree. This degree course will build on your existing skills and knowledge to prepare you for further challenges in your social work practice. It will help you to develop your reflective and evidence-based practice, and the skills needed to critically challenge social work and social care services – taking into account the dynamic social, cultural, spiritual, legal, political and economic factors affecting care delivery. This qualification is designed for qualified social workers who do not hold a degree – it is not a qualifying award leading to registration as a social worker in the UK. Sponsorship by your employer is not required.

Fees and facts

Where will you be resident whilst you study?

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Fee: Choose country above to see fee and ways to pay.
Study method: Flexible, part-time study through distance learning.
Type of qualification: Degree

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.
Code: Q59

Entry requirements

You must:

  • have successfully completed a professional qualification in social work at a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) that has led to registration as a social worker
  • provide evidence of your qualification in social work and your current registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (transferred from the General Social Care Council (GSCC)), Northern Ireland Social Care Council, Scottish Social Services Council or Care Council for Wales.

You can apply to count your existing qualification against Stage 1 of the degree, enabling you to start directly at Stage 2. It may also be possible to count additional credits against the Stage 2 requirements.

Depending on the amount of credit transfer you receive for your previous social work qualification:

  • if you receive fewer than 240 transferred credits – you will need to complete up to 120 credits at Stage 2 as well as 120 credits at Stage 3
  • if you receive 240 transferred credits – you will start at Stage 3 and study 120 credits to complete your degree.

Please note that this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017 and you must complete your studies by this date.

Career relevance and employability

You may already be employed in a social work or social care setting as a qualified social worker (with, for example, a Diploma in Social Work) but without a degree. Or you may have recently taken a career break, and provided you’ve retained your registration, this degree could help you re-establish your credentials and show your willingness to engage with studies relevant to modern social work practice.

Completing an honours degree course in a relevant discipline can enhance your employability skills and future career prospects by clearly demonstrating your commitment to the post-qualifying learning requirements for ongoing registration. This degree is designed to help you develop a sound and critical understanding of policy, theory and practice in health and social care. It will provide you with an opportunity to engage with the challenges facing professionals, service users and policy makers in the UK today.

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 OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Register your interest

For academic year 2014/15, registration opens on 30/04/2014. If you would like to be kept updated, you can register your interest now.

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.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key 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 required modules, you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Social Work Studies degree and will be entitled to use the letters BA (Hons) Soc Wk Stud (Open) after your name. 

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 best grades you achieve in a minimum of 120 and up to 240 credits from modules listed. At least 120 of those credits must come from modules at Level 3. 

You will have the option of attending 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:

Computing requirements

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.

Distance learning

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.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

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