Social Work with Foundation Year - BSc (Hons) *

UCAS Code:
Full Time (1 year foundation followed by 3 year degree)
September 2019

Do you have an interest in working with vulnerable children, families and adults and want to make a difference to society? If so, then this Social Work degree with a foundation year might be suitable for you.

As one of the largest providers of social workers in the UK, our Social Work BSc (Hons) degree is approved by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and is well known for producing excellent practitioners capable of operating in local authority, voluntary or private settings.

Tailor your Society, Childhood and Education Degree

When you successfully complete your Foundation Year, you will be able to progress onto a range of Undergraduate courses at the Birmingham City School of Education and Social Work. These include:

  • BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies
  • BA (Hons) Education Studies
  • BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS
  • BSc (Hons) Social Work
  • BA (Hons) Working with Children, Young People and Families

Why choose a foundation year course?

By studying a foundation year in Society, Childhood and Education your first year will be spent learning a wide range of broad subject areas which then open up opportunities for you to specialise further in your next year –  which would be the first year of a full degree programme. 

You will study very broad subjects in your foundation year, which is designed to prepare you for a range of courses and not just one particular BSc or BA degree. 

So although you are studying a BA or BSc in a specific course –BSc Social Work – the foundation year sets you up for a number of other possible degrees starting the following year. It may be that you don’t end up doing a degree in precisely the same subject as your foundation year.

This flexibility is one of the great things about the foundation year category - Society, Childhood and Education, allowing you to find out more about your interests and talents before focusing on a three year degree. The foundation year also helps us at BCU to make sure we help to match you to the degree that fits you best.

Please note: entry requirements for degree course

Upon completion of your Foundation Year, if your chosen course is regulated by a professional body such as the National College for Teaching and Leadership, you will be required to successfully complete the University’s selection process for the specific programme which will include an interview in order to proceed onto year one of the full degree programme. Entry onto year one of the degree programme will also be subject to a satisfactory DBS and Occupational Health Assessment. 

What's covered in the course?

Our specially-designed degree is endorsed by the College of Social Work to give you the skills and knowledge needed to make a difference to people's lives as a professional and registered social worker.

You will learn about the social work profession and the needs of the people social workers support. We link theory and practice through a combination of academic learning and on the job placement opportunities.

You will gain a first-hand insight into a wide range of issues that you will face in social work practice, such as:

  • The care needs of vulnerable practice
  • Homelessness
  • Domestic violence
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental health problems
  • The abuse of vulnerable people

Through expert teaching and quality placements, you will develop a sophisticated understanding of different service user groups and the skills needed to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable people.

This social work degree course is among the most innovative of its kind, placing you where you will benefit the most - among the people and communities you will go on to support.

Why Choose Us?

  • This course is endorsed by the College of Social Work 
  • Approved by The Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC)
  • High graduate employability rate
  • We celebrate diversity and culture 
  • Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city
  • Exciting and challenging work placements
  • We will develop you to be a skilled, resilient and empowering leader
  • Study in our £41 million City South Campus
  • Experienced and dedicated staff team 
  • The course covers all aspects of social work
This course is not open to International students

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of 4 GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (formerly Grade C), at the point of enrolment. These must include English language and mathematics.

If you do not already have the required GCSEs, (or their equivalent) for entry onto this course, and are not registered to take them, visit Equivalency Testing for further information.

80 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2019/20
GCE A Level/ AS Level 80 UCAS tariff points = CDD. Must include either Health and Social Care, Human Biology, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Social Science of Applied Science. 
Access to Higher Education Diploma Full award (60 credits). Must be in a health-related pathway. 
BTEC Diploma (12-units) DM in Health and Social Care Society, Health and Development or Science equivalent
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units) MMP in Health and Social Care Society, Health and Development or Science equivalent
International Baccalaureate Diploma 24 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate Minimum 80 UCAS tariff points from maximum of 5 Highers
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher Minimum 80 UCAS tariff points
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) Accepted in combination with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points.
Other qualifications

If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BSc (Hons) Sep 2019 FT 1 year foundation followed by 3 year degree £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Admissions Process

The admissions process is in three stages, using a range of activities to evaluate your potential to undertake social work education and practice.

Stage one

Your application and personal statements are screened for eligibility against the entry requirements and shortlisted. If you're successfully shortlisted you'll be invited to an admissions day at the university. During the day you will be evaluated in a number of areas.

Stage two

You demonstrate your written and analytical skills, and your ability to interact and perform in a group task. You have to pass both these elements to progress to an individual interview later the same day.

Stage three

During an individual interview, you are expected to demonstrate your individual application of skills, knowledge and values required in the social work profession. The process is mapped against The College of Social Work's Professional Capabilities Framework at entry level, and you will have to meet these criteria.  

You are required to pass each stage of the process to progress to the next. Only those applicants who are successful in each stage will be offered a place on the course.  

Preparing an application

When preparing to write your application and personal statement you need to make sure you tell us about a number of things so that we can make sure you have a good chance of being shortlisted. It is essential to say:

  • Why are you applying for social work - what is your interest?
  • Why you think you are suitable for social work.

Indicate that you have some awareness of what social work is, and what social workers do. What are some of the challenges and dilemmas that social workers face? Think about issues such as equality, diversity and empathy and their relevance to social work.

Show that you understand what is required to study social work.

What skills and experience do you have (either paid or voluntary) that would be transferable in social work practice? It is increasingly important to have experience of working with vulnerable groups of people.

What values do you have that are appropriate in social work? How do these relate to working with vulnerable people in an anti-discriminatory way?

Do you have any hobbies or interests that demonstrate skills relevant to social work?

If you have an idea of what you would like to achieve after completing the course, explained how you want to use the knowledge and experience gained.

If you are including a non-academic reference, make sure that the person providing this knows you very well, and is able to comment upon your skills, qualities and potential to be a social worker.

Preparing for an admissions day

Here is some advice for those who have been successfully shortlisted and invited to an admissions day:

You will receive an invitation from the university including the date, arrival time, where to go and where to report to. There will be contact details of who to contact if you have difficulties. You will also be sent more detailed information about the course and about the admissions day.

Arrive on time – latecomers might not be able to proceed and may have to re-book.

Make sure you arrive at the Birmingham City University Campus on Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, as some applicants who are not familiar with Birmingham have turned up at the wrong campus or the wrong university in the past.

Inform the University well in advance if you have any specific needs during the day. Reasonable adjustments can only be made with advance notice and evidence of an educational needs assessment. Applicants with specific needs should provide us with at least two weeks' advance notice from the date of invitation. If you do not inform us we may have to reschedule, if that is viable.

When engaging with the written task, focus on analysing what is going on in the case scenario you will be given. Keep description down to a limit and focus on your assessment of the situation.

Be prepared to contribute to a small group discussion. Those who say little or convey limited knowledge and understanding of social work may not demonstrate sufficient capabilities required to proceed to an interview. Be sensitive to other participants in the discussion.

If you proceed to an individual interview consider the following:

Be clear about why you want to be a social worker.

Do some research into what social work is, and what it sets out to achieve. Prepare examples of how social workers can support vulnerable people.

Consider what skills you have that can be useful in social work. How could you develop these skills?

Give some thought to what knowledge you would need to be a social worker. Prepare examples of any theories, legislation or policy social workers might use.

Consider what values are needed to work with vulnerable people and to work in an anti-discriminatory way. Do some homework on the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), who are the regulatory body for social work and social work education. What do they say about values and standards? Also check out the role of The College of Social Work and the British Association of Social Workers’ (BASW) code of ethics.

Think about the academic skills you have developed in previous study, and how you will meet the demands of studying at degree level. Consider examples of how you would do this.

Additional costs

We offer a wide range of professionally accredited and vocational courses that require the purchase of, among other things, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions, professional body memberships and DBS checks, and may require you to pay to attend conferences or participate in placements.

The link below provides our estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs to you could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course. We set out where we can, based on experience, where these indicative costs are for activities that are optional or compulsory.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Foundation Year

Academic Skills for Success

This module is designed to support you in your transition to studying in a Higher Education environment at Birmingham City University. Through a range of class-based group and individual activities, discussions, debates, personal reflection and wider reading and research, you will have opportunities to consider academic conventions, which include: effective use of literature; sourcing and reviewing information; various forms of academic writing; developing reflective capacity. You will also receive guidance on study skills and strategies, which will enhance previously acquired skills.

These professional skills are transferable and will be valuable not only in the immediate context but throughout your continued education and employment. By engaging with this module, we have set out clearly what we expect of you at foundation and undergraduate level, and will equip you with the confidence, competence and capacity to utilise resources to be able to meet expectations in this environment.

An essential element of this module will be your ability to analyse and reflect on your own learning and the way in which you have applied your knowledge, skill and understanding to any academic context in which you have engaged to date. Communicating effectively through a variety of academic conventions is a key skill for any student and this will be a feature of this module.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity

This module is designed to help you gain awareness and understanding of current challenges around Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity and how this impacts upon the Health, Education and Social Sciences sector, preparing you for your future education and journey into practice.

Introducing the Equality Act 2010 as the overarching legislation that focuses on Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, the module is based on themes that are covered by this Act.  The nine protected characteristics, upon which a person can be discriminated, as laid down in the Equality Act, will be discussed throughout and you will be introduced to case studies relevant to your chosen pathways.

The module will give you the opportunity to discuss debate and reflect upon how challenges around Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity may present themselves. Using problem and inquiry based learning you will have the opportunity to explore and discuss ways of working which can help to minimise discrimination in your own practice.  The module will be made up of lead lectures, taught sessions, group work and individual study.

An essential element of this module will be your ability to analyse and reflect on your own experiences and perceptions, whilst gaining an awareness and appreciating the differences of others. 

Interpersonal Skills and Professional Behaviours

This module will focus on enabling you to gain a deeper understanding of the interpersonal skills and behaviours required to work in your chosen area. Through a range of class based and student focused activities you will explore the different concepts of effective interpersonal and professional behaviours essential to your own personal development and progression. By engaging in this module you will  reflect on your own and others  values, beliefs and behaviours identifying how this can impact on the way in which you will  be viewed by others. You will also address the importance of effective communication and how this can lead you to have a more professional approach in your chose area of work.

Negotiated Study

This module is designed to support you in your transition to studying in a Higher Education environment at Birmingham City University, allowing you the opportunity to negotiate learning of a bespoke subject. Under the guidance of tutors, you will be able to direct your learning and identify relevant learning opportunities that you feel enable you to learning more about a specific field of study.

The subject area within this module is student-led, with guidance and facilitation from designated academic and practice support. You will identify an area of study that you would like to review and evaluate, and which relates to your foundation year pathway and indicate programme.

A significant proportion of the module is based around negotiation with academic facilitators to identify extended areas of study and opportunities that are possible to enhance your towards completion of the study.

The module is not reliant on traditional taught subject sessions, although you will be expected to attend classes where you will work in peer learning groups exploring and developing your negotiated study. This approach to studying is closely allied to learning within the workplace.

Birmingham’s Children and Society

This module provides opportunities for you to develop an understanding of children and society in Birmingham.  As the country’s second city, Birmingham offers a rich context for your studies and provides a perfect example of the ways in which children and society inter-relate.  You will also be laying foundations for your future studies by gaining knowledge of the environments affecting your chosen degree discipline.  No matter where you are from, exploring the ways in which a highly diverse city such as Birmingham provides for the needs of children will provide an invaluable insight.

The module will also provide a secure introduction to higher education.  By providing a safe and structured learning environment, you will be encouraged to develop and articulate your own thoughts and opinions based on class-based explorations of topics and ideas, as well as your personal reading and wider research.  An important part of any study at this level is your ability to reflect on your learning and understanding.  This module will provide plenty of opportunities for you to develop this skill, possibly in new ways or for the first time.

Policy and Politics

This module provides opportunities for you to develop an understanding of the politics and policies that impact society, childhood and education. Key aspects of working practice in the disciplines listed above are determined by the policies that come from the government; in the majority of cases, a government department oversees and regulates practice through its policies. This modules will explore the way in which the British constitution works, how policy making takes place and the impact that this has on society, childhood and education. The module will also consider the political spectrum and the way that this impacts policy. Importantly, as someone considering moving into the areas of study outlined above, you will also have the opportunity to consider your own perspectives and the ways in which you have been influenced by policy and politics, and the ways in which you might go on to affect them as a citizen and as a member of a given profession.

The module provides exciting opportunities for you to recognise your own political heritage and to reflect on your ideals and aspirations. Having a clear understanding of the nature of politics and policy making in this country will provide you with a strong foundation on which further knowledge can be built. Developing an understanding and considering your views and opinions takes place over time; personal responses change in the light of growing knowledge. This module allows you the opportunity to explore your ideas and you will be encouraged to share them as part of your learning journey.

You have the flexibility to transfer to any standard undergraduate programme from the School of Education and Social Work upon successfully completing your Foundation Year including:

  • BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS
  • BA (Hons) Education Studies
  • BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies
  • BA (Hons) Working with Children, Young People and Families

Course structure for BSc (Hons) Social Work

Our social work degree course links theory directly with practice, enabling you to engage effectively and sensitively with vulnerable groups. You'll graduate as a professional capable of ensuring the users of social work services have the maximum possible independence while still safeguarding them from harm and risk. We'll help you develop and maintain the confidence of service users, protecting their rights, effectively promoting their interests and ensuring equality.

Our degree is designed to prepare you in the best way possible for direct practice, partnering with employers to ensure you get experience in a variety of settings. You'll have the chance to work alongside a range of vulnerable groups and individuals with differing needs on placement. This may involve working in a day-care setting, for groups who require a few hours of attention daily, or in the community, carrying out assessments, developing care plans, identifying and responding to risk, managing complex caseloads and prioritising work, as well as delivering appropriate services.

In year one you'll start your training with five modules that will introduce you to what social workers do. This includes anti-discriminatory issues, the law and issues related to human growth and development, as well as other vital areas of social welfare.

In the second year, you'll continue to build your knowledge base about the demands placed on modern social workers with a further four modules as well as your first major placement (70 days). The year concludes with an introduction to research methods.

In the final year of the social work degree, you'll develop more of your evidence-based skills and hone your knowledge of law and policy. The course features a longer, 100 day placement. You'll finish the course by working on critical reflection, giving you a robust platform from which you can begin to practice as a social worker.

Further study

Our Social Work degree gives you a strong foundation for a career as a social worker and also provides a gateway for progression into further study. Employers encourage graduates to continue their professional development, by undertaking, for example, post- qualifying training in child care, adult services and mental health. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of continuing professional development (CPD), post-registration courses.

Employment opportunities

After graduating from the social work degree, you are eligible to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), enabling you to practise as a professional social worker.

With half of the course taking place in practice settings, this course is highly regarded by employers. The experience you will gain as a social work student at Birmingham City University, the largest provider of qualified health and social services staff in the region, gives you excellent employment prospects.


Placements take place across a range of agencies including local authorities, voluntary and independent organisations, in a variety of settings such as residential, day care, schools, housing, hospitals and Social Work teams.

A significant period of time on the programme is spent on placement, observing and engaging with the realities of social work with at least two different client groups, and the final year placement will always involve working and learning in statutory social work interventions.

The course aims to offer separate placements with children and families and an adult group. You will undertake a minimum 170 days of placements over the three years of the course, working in different settings with service users and professional colleagues. Group learning is an important part of ensuring you engage with a diverse range of undergraduate peers and staff.

Our broad partner network means we are able to offer placement opportunities in the public and independent sectors, drawing on strong links with Birmingham City Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, as well as charities including Barnardo’s.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses cutting-edge learning facilities.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.

Home Environment Room

The Home Environment room is the perfect setting for teaching communications skills and allows us to simulate a community setting for our students. It is particularly useful for paramedics, mental health and learning disability nurses and also midwives.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.

Albert Moylan

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Born in the Republic of Ireland, Albert obtained a degree in Commerce and initially started out on a career in business. He discovered that his interest in people, social problems, inequality, deprivation and disadvantage far outweighed his interest in commerce.

After moving to the UK in 1986 and settling in Birmingham, Albert qualified as a social worker and practised generically within Birmingham City Council with all adult client groups. He qualified as a Social Work Practice Teacher in 2005, and started to work closely with a number of local universities. After a period as a practice learning coordinator and off-site practice educator with Birmingham City Council Learning and Development, he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Social Work with Birmingham City University in 2007. In addition to teaching, Albert took on the role of Subject Quality Coordinator, and was Programme Director for the BSc (Hons) Social work Degree from 2014 to 2016.

Albert is a member of the Teaching Teams for the BSc (Hons) Social Work Degree, Social Work Practice Educator Training Programme, Approved Mental Health Professional Programme, Faculty MSc in Safeguarding, and the MSc in Social Work Programme. He has a special interest in identity, equality and social justice, the value of internationalization and having a global outlook, and enhancing the quality of social work education and social work practice.

He is currently Module leader for Equality, Diversity and Anti-discriminatory Practice in the BSc (Hons) Undergraduate Social Work Degree and is Deputy Programme Leader for the Social Work Practice Educator Training Programme and the MSc in Social Work.