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BA (Hons) Social Work (Degree Apprenticeship)

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Institution code: 


3 years full time

Typical Offer: 

2023-24 and 2024-25 entry; 112 UCAS tariff points (or above), BBC (A-Level), DMM (BTEC) in Health and Social Care, Merit (T Level)

The Social Work apprenticeship does not allow direct entry to external applicants at this time.

Please contact Garfield Hunt (, Apprentice Social Work Programme Lead or Aisha Howells (, Social Work Course Lead for more information about eligibility to join and module content.

Read more about what we offer on our Apprenticeship Hub.


We are immensely proud of the Degree Apprenticeship programme. Apprentice Social Workers are provided with excellent learning opportunities and support to build on their existing knowledge, skills and practice experience. The Apprentice Social Work degree programme is successful in part because we have established strong Teaching Partnership relationship with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils and the University of East Anglia, which commenced in 2017. The Teaching Partnership enhances the quality of the apprenticeship programme bringing innovative approaches to learning, practitioners into teaching, as well as even more opportunities for practical experience and learning from people who have had social work services. More information about the Teaching Partnership can be accessed here.

This fantastic project helps raise apprentices’ practice to an excellent standard, giving the opportunities, resources and skills needed for a demanding career in the statutory, private and voluntary social work and social care sectors.

Our rigorous approach to academic and practice learning ensures apprentices have the opportunity to become critical, analytical and reflective thinkers and practitioners. When graduating from UOS you will have the skills, values and knowledge to help enable positive changes for children, adults and families in vulnerable circumstances.

Social Work is an exciting and fulfilling and deeply rewarding international profession. As a Social Worker you will work in partnership with adults, children, carers and families in a range of different settings to support and promote positive change in people's lives in order to improve their wellbeing and independence. Within the context of relevant Social Work legislation, you will use your professional judgement and build relationships with a variety of individuals and communities, as well as with a wide range of other professionals and agencies.

In your role you will assess, plan, implement and evaluate complex situations. This requires an ability to critically reflect and make decisions within a clear professional code of ethics. As a registered Social Worker, you will engage in protecting individuals from harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. You will work in a way which is compassionate and which takes account of all aspects of the individual’s life - ensuring their voice is central to decision making. You will use your professional expertise to work, assess, plan, implement, evaluate and intervene, putting the needs of people first.

Throughout your career, you will be responsible for ensuring your continuing professional development and will be expected to demonstrate leadership whatever your role. All Social Workers must register with the professional regulator and adhere to their professional standards. Regulated by Social Work England social work offers a wealth of values-based and stimulating possibilities. We regularly update the course contents to reflect the changing and diverse opportunities in this field, and to give you the tools for your ongoing professional development.

The tutors and people who use services and practitioners bring a diversity of experience to the course, and direct links to current practice through the Teaching Partnership, ensures your learning is up to date. What is more, during your degree the teaching team provides academic guidance and careers support. All of this advances employability in time for graduation. Service users and carers with a variety of experiences and knowledge are involved in many elements of social work education. It is a fundamental part of the activities at the University of Suffolk. View our Social Work Voices page for more information. More information about the required Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours that apprentices will be required to demonstrate on this programme are accessible via the ‘Institute for Apprentices’ website.

Course modules

Full downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Record.

Academic Skills Development

This level 4 module is designed for social work apprentices and to provide key elements on their journey to completing their undergraduate studies. The purpose of the module is to gain and apply important study skills that social work apprentices will require during their degree programme. The module will allow apprentices to orientate themselves to the academic environment, systems and requirements, and appreciate an awareness of academic issues and research, whilst also beginning to develop their own research and study skills.

Preparation for Social Work Practice

Social work apprentices are required to be assessed to ensure that they are safe to begin assessed social work practice placements. At the heart of Preparation for Practice will be the perceptions and experiences of different service participants (service users and carers), something each student has to understand, absorb and navigate. Preparation will include the opportunity observe practitioners and professionals in social care, and where possible in private, voluntary and independent settings and shadow experienced social workers (where possible). Preparation for contemporary social work includes evidencing an understanding of working in a multi agency working and achieving appropriate study, computer and basic research skills. The module offers apprentices the opportunity to learn theory to practice, problem-based learning, law and social policy and develop ‘skills’ (practical as well as academic) development. this module involves a blend of self-directed on-line learning and learning through group work.

Psychological Approaches to Human Behaviour and Lifespan Development

The individual moves through various stages of the lifespan and this module, Psychological Approaches to Human Behaviour and Lifespan Development offers apprentices the opportunity to examine the implications of a development process and life stages on the individual’s behaviour. This module will complement the Social Change and Social Justice module in Year 1.

Social Change and Social Justice in Social Work

Sociological theories are fundamental to social work practice as Social Workers are concerned with society, problem-solving and social change. There are many ways to make sense of the world and sociological perspectives provide a deeper understanding and analysis of human behaviour and the interactions within society. It is much more than a ‘common sense’ approach and sociology supports an exploration of the social structures and institutions that frame and influence citizens’ lives. Social workers operate within a diverse range of social settings, working with people and communities with different ethnic, cultural, social, religious and family backgrounds and draw on sociological perspectives, explanations and frameworks in many of their day-to-day tasks. Social work’s core values of social justice requires an understanding of the nature of oppression, inequality and disadvantage. These elements are rooted in social processes, and practitioners need to demonstrate knowledge and recognition of power dynamics and be able to empathise with the experience of the individual and communities that they work alongside.

Values, Ethics and Dilemmas in Social Work Practice

An understanding of the values which underpin social work practice and influence the knowledge and skills base of the profession is necessary for all social work practitioners. Because it is fundamental to all aspects of social work and an on-going learning process which encompasses all other areas of learning on the programme, it is important that this module should come early in your learning and development and is therefore positioned in Year 1. In order to become competent and reflective practitioners, apprentices need to consciously recognise their own values and prejudices, as well as acquire a clear understanding of dominant societal values and ideologies, competing value systems, the professional value base and codes of practice, interprofessional issues and organisational values. Apprentices need to understand the nature of discrimination and the impact of oppression and learn appropriate strategies to counteract these in their practice.

Effective Communication for Social Work Practice

The ability to communicate effectively is an important life skill. It can be argued that the accomplishment of effective communication is the foundation upon which social work practice is formed. Increasingly, Social Workers are required to operate within extremely complex situations which include safeguarding children and adults, negotiating their way through organisational systems and establishing a professional identity within a multi-agency arena; all of which require effective communication techniques. Apprentices will be introduced to the importance of communication within the social work profession and build their knowledge and skills to enable them to make good links between theoretical models of direct work, communication skills and practice.

Social Work with Adults: Law, Policy and Practice

Economic and political factors influence the legal and policy response to particular societal factors which are deemed to be social problems and what is then defined as social need. These change over time and are influenced by political ideology, prevailing economic conditions, and global factors. Legal responses which define how people are treated, are shaped by contemporary values and ideologies and reflect how social needs and wants are determined along a continuum of debate and change. This module will cover the essential learning for apprentices to understand the political systems, legal strategies and policy initiatives which relate to adults and young people in transition from children’s services. An understanding of the processes that shape policy and legislation and their impact on the evolving configuration of social work is important for effective practice. Within the above frameworks, the focus of teaching and learning will be on apprentices developing in depth knowledge in relation to a range of areas of social work practice with adults, to equip them to undertake direct work with service users and their carers and to be able to effectively manage front line practice, making links to the knowledge, skills and value base of social work within diverse communities.

Social Work with Children and Families: Law Policy and Practice

Social work takes place in communities and institutions, with individuals and groups and operates within legal, political and economic contexts. Social workers must act to protect children and support them and their families. Children’s wishes and feelings must be sought and listened to and at the same time decisions must be taken in their best interests. Having knowledge of the law (including human / children’s rights legislation), procedures, ethics, and research including learning from serious case reviews (SCRs), as well has being skilful in working directly with children and families and effectively communicating with other professionals, is the foundation of excellent practice. This module enables apprentices to learn and develop knowledge skills and values essential for effective practice.

Social Work Research

Research underpins the social work knowledge-base, shaping and informing the profession. Research enables Social Workers to evidence whether interventions are effective, supports understanding of the impact of legislation and social policy on people who access services and communities, and assesses the resources and needs of people in their environment. Research is ubiquitously part of everyday practice whilst also able to provide a platform for people’s voices, experiences and social conditions to be more visible. It is argued that there is a disconnect between research and practice and the rationale for this module, alongside the research modules at Level 4 and Level 6 is to bridge this gap and develop skilled research-confident and informed Social Workers.

Mental Health and Social Justice for Children and Adults

It is essential that social workers have a good knowledge and understanding of mental health and personal distress from a range of theories, perspectives and practice knowledge. They also need to be aware of the different community services that are available to support and assist people who use services and carers. It is also important to understand the benefits and practicalities of collaborative working with different professionals and agencies. This module will outline competing theories and perspectives, whilst considering social policy developments in relation to mental health services. These issues will be particularly explored in relation to social justice, including the tensions and dilemmas this raises for contemporary social work practice.

Employment Based Practice Learning Year 2

Each apprentice must have assessed practice learning experience in at least two contrasting practice settings in years 2 and 3. These apprentices will have experience of a statutory social work setting or tasks involving legal interventions for example undertaking and or contributing to legally based assessments. Students must successfully complete a number of work based practice days per year as identified by the employing authority. At level 5 social work apprentice students will undertake employment based practice learning covering one academic year.

Employment Based Practice Learning

Each social work apprentice must have assessed practice experience in at least two contrasting practice settings. These apprentices swill have experience of a statutory social work setting or tasks involving legal interventions for example undertaking and or contributing to legally based assessments. Apprentices must successfully complete a number of work based practice days per year as identified by the employing authority. At level 6 apprentices will undertake employment based assessed practice learning.

Critical Social Work Practice

This module builds on the critical social work practices explored in modules at level 4 and level 5. It is designed to prepare apprentices to work within a range of social care practice settings. Critical thinking in practice is an essential component of the role of new and established practitioners. The module promotes critical thinking within multi-agency social care teams. Critical thinking is promoted through the exploration of topical issues within social care. Apprentices will be encouraged to work as flexible practitioners and critical thinkers. Management of self and becoming an independent learner is key to evaluating their role and the role of others within the interprofessional team. A problem-based approach will be used to develop managerial, leadership and advocacy skills in order to become an effective practitioner. Apprentices will be encouraged to explore the issue of corporate responsibility. By exploring professional working, cultural differences will be considered, preconceptions will be examined and apprentices will learn how to manage their practice and negotiate their practice with other professionals.

Research Based Case Study Analysis End Point Assessment (EPA)

The Research Based Case Study Analysis module is part of the social work apprenticeship degree - End-point assessment (EPA). The EPA is a synoptic assessment at the end of the apprenticeship programme. The case study will focus on a practice piece of social work, which takes account of the contemporary ethical issues, and social realities of people who use social work services. This module has been conceived and designed to enable apprentices to critically consider and develop understandings of the ethical issues in both the contact of theory and practice.

Scenario Based Practice – Professional Judgement and Decision Making End Point Assessment (EPA)

The ‘Scenario Based Practice: Professional Judgement and decision making’ module is part of the Social work degree apprenticeship- End-point assessment (EPA). The EPA is a synoptic assessment at the end of the apprenticeship programme. The scenario on which the assessment is based will use a video/role play and the social work apprentice will need to explore this scenario under exam conditions. This module has been conceived and designed to enable apprentices to critically consider and develop understandings of ethical issues in both the contact of theory and practice.

Career opportunities

Social workers are typically employed by local authorities and other public organisations such as NHS trusts departments that provide services for children or adults. However, once you are qualified and registered, you can also work in the voluntary, private or independent social care sectors. For more information visit the British Association of Social Worker’s website.

Our course is developed to give you transferable skills, helping to broaden your career choices. Moving into social work is just one option – other opportunities range from Careers Adviser and Charity sector as a Project Officer for instance or (with more training) a Play Therapist and Youth Worker or homelessness outreach worker. Whatever you aspire to do, we will do our best to help you explore your ambitions and potential pathways.

Fees and finance

This Social Work Degree Apprenticeship is offered only to apprentices undertaking the course as part of their employment. Apprenticeship training will therefore be funded directly by employers or by employers in partnership with Government. Apprentices will not be required to pay any tuition or course fees, and will not be eligible for any Student Finance England maintenance support.

Please see our Apprenticeship pages for more information about apprenticeship funding.

Entry requirements


Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Social Work Apprentice Course Lead

Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities

Associate Professor English and Creative Writing, Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Exchange (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Course Leader BA (Hons) Social Work & Senior Lecturer. Joint Course Leader (PgC in Social Work Practice Education)

Lecturer in Social Work