Social Work Degree - Distance Learning BA (Hons)

BA (Hons) Social Work

1. Overview

This distance learning social work course is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council. The course has been established for over twenty years and provides professional training to students from the UK and beyond.

Students will benefit from the vast array of specialist teaching available from a large academic staff team, with all personal tutors being professionally qualified Social Workers.

This course is predominantly taught through the University's virtual learning environment, CampusMoodle, where you will be able to interact with tutors and fellow students from around the country. Online University Workbooks / Materials and core texts will be provided for all modules except those that are related to Assessed Practice Learning.

To support their learning through self-directed study students are required to attend two teaching blocks per year of study at the University, each lasting one week. It is also a requirement of the course that students have access to a suitable home computer to support their learning and access course material.

As the degree leads to a professional qualification in social work, students must complete and pass the assessed practice learning components of the course.

2. What you will study

STAGE 2 (January 2016 - April 2017)

Semester 1
Teaching block week - January 2016

  • Sociology for Social Work Practice
  • Psychology for Social Work Practice

Semester 2
Teaching block week - June 2016

  • Human Growth and Behaviour
  • Law and Legal Systems

Semester 3
Pre-placement teaching block week - January 2017
60 day placement (January - April 2017)

  • Practice Analysis 1
  • Reflective Practice and Development 1

STAGE 3 (May 2017 - May 2018)

Semester 1
Teaching block week - January 2018

  • Social Work with Older People
  • Social Work with Children and Families
  • Theory to Practice

Semester 2
Pre-placement teaching block week - January 2018
100 day placement (January - June 2018)

  • Practice Learning Contexts
  • Risk Analysis
  • Practice Analysis 2
  • Reflective Practice and Professional Development 2

STAGE 4 (June 2018 - September 2019)

Semester 1
Teaching block week - June 2018

  • Dissertation proposal and Research Methods
  • Social Work in Criminal Justice

Semester 2
Teaching block week - January 2019

  • Social Work with People with Substance Problems
  • Social Work in Mental Health and Disability
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Dissertation and Research Studies

Students are required to attend two teaching blocks per year of study at the University, each lasting one week. These teaching blocks provide a variety of important functions including:

  • Important introductions to forthcoming modules of study
  • Opportunities for students to meet to share ideas and learning
  • Dissemination of current theoretical concepts and policy

In addition to online discussion groups, email and telephone contact with personal tutors, students benefit from monthly group and/or individual tutorials, where appropriate, in their local area led by their personal tutor

3. Entry requirements

Standard Entry (Stage 2)

The distance learning route of the Degree which commences at SCQF8 is designed for employment based students who are seeking a professional qualification in social work, but who:

  • for geographical, financial and family reasons cannot attend a full-time Social Work course, and
  • are able to evidence relevant SCQF7 level accreditation (120 academic points) from prior certified and experiential learning.

All applicants must have a minimum of two years full-time experience (or equivalent if working part-time) in a social work or social care role involving direct service-user contact involving assessments and interventions. For example, applicants should be involved in drawing up care plans and implementing them. Applicants must also be currently employed in a social work setting for a minimum of 17.5 hours per week and remain employed within the social work / social care sector for the duration of the period of study.

Advanced Entry (Stage 3)

There is also an entry point at Stage 3 (SCQF 9). This enables candidates to work towards the BA (Hons) in Social Work over two and a quarter years instead of undertaking the full programme of study over three and a quarter years. Whilst there are financial benefits for self-funding students in terms of cost, the whole ethos of the advanced entry admission process is to give accreditation for previous experience and certificated learning.

Successful applicants will have previous relevant experience and previous certificated academic learning at Diploma of Higher Education or Degree level (240 academic points) in relevant cognate areas. Academic learning must include knowledge of social sciences and psychological theories. Applicants will require a minimum of two years experience of working within a social work practice setting incorporating direct service user contact involving assessments and interventions. Applicants must also be currently employed in a social work setting for a minimum of 17.5 hours per week for the duration of the period of study.

Applicants are required to provide a portfolio of evidence to allow accreditation of previous experience and learning in order to gain this level of advanced entry. The portfolio is set by the course team and will comprise of academic pieces of work as well as a practice assessment proforma based on the applicant's current role. The portfolio will be assessed by the academic members of the course team and experienced practitioners and managers from agency stakeholders. Applicants should also note that there is a nominal and non-refundable fee (currently £495) for the submission of the portfolio.

Qualification Conversion Entry (Stage 4)

This stage of entry is for professionally qualified social workers who already have 360 academic points. Applicants will also have the CQSW, CSS or the Dip. SW and have completed further certificated learning in, for example, Practice Teaching, MHO or Child Protection, or perhaps the Registered Managers Award.

This stage of entry allows applicants the opportunity to upgrade their current qualification to a BA (Hons) degree classification.

All candidates

In all cases, applicants must register with the Scottish Social Services Council and, to that end, must be subject to enquiry within the Scottish Government's Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. At the point of enrolling on the course at Standard or Advanced Entry students must have started the process of registration and this must be completed within 12 weeks of starting the course. Qualification Conversion Entry applicants will need to provide evidence of their SSSC or equivalent registration.

In addition, applicants must satisfy the requirements of the Scottish Social Services Council as laid out in the Standards in Social Work Education (SSSC 2003) in respect of language and literacy skills, numeracy skills and IT skills. Applicants require to have passed Standard Grade Maths and failure to evidence this will require a numeracy test to be completed at the interview stage.

International students require to evidence IELTS Level 6.

4. Placements and accreditations

Stage 2 entrants complete two assessed practice learning placements, one of 60 days starting in the January of the second calendar year of study, and one of 100 days starting in the January of the third calendar year of study. There is the possibility of the 60 day placement being undertaken in the student's place of work with some adjustments made to their existing role. This might not be suitable in all cases and must be discussed and agreed with the course team.

Stage 3 entrants complete one assessed practice learning placement of 100 days, starting in the January after starting the course.

Stage 4 entrants - there is no placement requirement.

5. Course Fees

For Academic Year 2015/2016

Scottish Students

  • £3,500 per academic year

EU Students

  • £4,750 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £4,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £4,750 per academic year

For Academic Year 2014/2015

All Students

  • £3,400 per stage for Scottish students
  • £4,500 per stage for international students
  • £4,500 per stage for Rest of the UK and EU students

For Academic Year 2013/2014

All Students

  • £3,270 per stage for Scottish students
  • £3,950 per stage for international students
  • £3,950 per stage for Rest of the UK and EU students

For Academic Year 2012/2013

UK/EU Students

  • £3,150 per stage

International Students

  • £4,000 per stage

For Academic Year 2011/2012

All Students

  • £3,090 per stage

All course fees are reviewed annually and subject to change. Published fees apply to the course's mode of delivery. You will also be liable to pay a graduation fee of £40 before receiving a University award.

For further information see Student Finance pages


6. How to apply

The application process opens in August each year. This year applications will open on 10 August and applications are not accepted prior to this date.

The closing date for Standard Entry to Stage 2 in January 2016 is Monday 16 November 2015.

The closing date for Advanced Entry to Stage 3 in May 2016 is Monday 19 October 2015. 

This earlier date is to allow sufficient time for the preparation and submission of the Advanced Entry portfolio in 2016.

Interviews for the course will be held on the following dates -

Advanced Entry (Stage 3) - Wednesday 4 November 2015

Standard Entry (Stage 2) - Wednesday 2 December 2015

Please note that only completed applications which incorporate all the required supplementary information will be considered.

Admissions Timetable Summary 2015-16

Applications Open
10 August 2015
Applications close for Stage 3
19 October 2015
Interviews for Stage 3
4 November 2015
Stage 3 applicants start portfolio
9 November 2015
Applications close for Stage 2
16 November 2015
Interviews for Stage 2
2 December 2015
Induction block for Stage 2
18 January 2016
Portfolio submission date
4 March 2016
Induction block for Stage 3
9 May 2016

If you are interested in applying for this course please Apply Online

Applicants are required to upload the following documentation to the Apply Online application:

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BA (Hons)

Start date


Course length

3 years and 6 months

Mode of Attendance

Distance Learning

Academic school
School of Applied Social Studies
More information:
Robert Buckley Senior Lecturer
01224 263218
Nicola Youngson Lecturer
01224 263237

Robert Gordon University, Garthdee House, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QB, Scotland, UK: a Scottish charity, registration No. SC013781