Department of Social Work and Social Care

International applicants for the Social Work BA

When considering applications from international students who wish to study social work, one of the things we look for is evidence that you have sufficient understanding of what social work practice involves in the UK. On this page are some pointers we recommend you think about before applying. We also strongly encourage you to make your own investigations into the area of social work that particularly interests you.

While the social work profession internationally shares a common set of values and knowledge, the legal duties, powers and regulation of social workers can vary considerably. As a result, the roles and tasks expected of a social worker can differ significantly between countries. Therefore, if you are from overseas and are considering applying to train as a social worker in the UK, it is important that you familiarise yourself with social work roles, employment and expectations in this country.

What do social workers in England do?

The Social Work Reform Board (2009) said the following about the work undertaken by social workers in this country:

"When people are made vulnerable - by poverty, bereavement, addiction, isolation, mental distress, disability, neglect, abuse, or other circumstances - what happens next matters hugely. If outcomes are poor, if dependency becomes ingrained, or harm goes unchecked, individuals, families, communities and the economy can pay a heavy price. Good social workers can and do make a huge difference in these situations."

Specifically, social workers become involved in:

  • situations defined by law where organisations have a legal duty to intervene professionally and social workers are uniquely educated, trained and qualified to undertake the work required
  • situations in which the risk, ambiguity or complexity is greatest. 
    (College of Social Work, 2014)

Common examples of such situations include - but are not limited to:

  • responding to complex needs
  • effective safeguarding and risk management
  • addressing adversity and social exclusion
  • promoting independence and autonomy
  • prevention and early intervention.

More explanation for each of the above can be found at/in the following:

See details in the Prospectus for the Social Work BA course.