Frequently asked questions about studying social work

Social Work - Anthony Lewis

Anthony Lewis, senior lecturer, answers the most frequently asked questions about our social work degree. If you have a question that's not answered here, please use the online chat on the course page.

What is relevant experience?
At USW we ask for 420 hours of relevant social care experience, ideally by the time you apply (see entry requirements for more information). This could include experience of working with children and families and/or adults in social care settings whether they are statutory, third sector or independent sector agencies. We also consider experience in counselling settings; youth and community settings and educational settings where the focus of the work is special needs provision. Read more about relevant experience and applying in social work.

Can I apply without the 420 hours? 
We require at least 12 weeks’ work experience (approximately 420 hours) carried out in a supervised social care setting or agency with a reference from the supervisor submitted with your application confirming you have completed the required hours. This work experience must be completed prior to you submitting your application, and you must clearly reference that you have undertaken a minimum of 420 hours in your personal statement. In certain instances we will accept completion of these hours by the time you are invited for interview. Instances such as these will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Will I have to complete a placement as part of the social work degree?
Yes, Social Care Wales requires all students to complete 200 days practice. The 200 days are allocated as – Year One (20 days); Year Two (80 days) and Year Three (100 days). Placements are run in full time blocks and students are required to complete a 7.5 hour working day. Read more about social work placements.

Where are the placements?
The social work programme is in partnership with five local authority social services departments; Newport, Torfaen; Monmouth; Rhonda Cynon Taff and Blaenau Gwent. Each student is hosted throughout the three years by one of these partner agencies .The Local Authorities are responsible for organising the placements. These can be in a statutory, third sector or independent sector agency. Some examples are local authority social work teams, residential homes, palliative care services, or agencies working with domestic abuse or substance misuse.

What kind of activities would be undertaken on a placement?
In year one, students do not carry a caseload but observe practice in social care within specific settings. In year two and year three, students will undertake case work and be supported appropriately by practice assessors. This direct work is likely to involve a full range of duties in relation to assessment and care and support planning.

What are the entry requirements for social work? 
The typical A Level offer would be grades BBC with 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent. Equivalent qualifications considered are Essential Skills Level Two in Communication and Application of Number, or Functional Skills Level Two in English and Maths. We accept the Welsh Baccalaureate, BTEC Level Three qualifications and the Access to HE Diploma. Please see our website for further information about grades required for these qualifications.

How do I apply?
UK and EU students apply via UCAS.