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.

social work by distance learning

You 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.


BA (Hons)

Course Dates


Course Length

3 years and 6 months

Mode of Attendance

Distance Learning


As a Social Worker you will have a vital role in society providing support and protection to people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. Requiring dedication and compassion, social work is a challenging yet fulfilling career. As someone already working in a related social care role, with at least a relevant SCQF7 level accreditation or equivalent, this part-time degree will provide you with the knowledge, values and skills required by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to practice as a qualified Social Worker. There are two entry levels to this course dependent on your existing qualifications and experience, which are designed to give you the flexibility to balance your learning with your work and personal life. Please see the Entry Requirements tab for more details on entry levels.

Stage Two  

Stage Two enables the student to further develop knowledge and skills associated with social work practice.  The student will acquire an initial ability to demonstrate assessment and intervention skills with a range of client groups.  Teaching blocks are in January and June. 

  • Pre-placement teaching block week - January 2019
  • 60 day placement (January - April 2019)

Stage Three

For students progressing from Stage 2 or joining via Advanced Entry (May 2019 - June 2020).

Stage Three enables the student to apply advanced social work skills to specific client groups.  This will be demonstrated by a greater level of independent study and increasing competence in social work practice.  

Teaching block week - May 2019

Pre-placement teaching block week - January 2020
100 day placement (January - June 2020)

Stage Four  

Stage Four enables the student to engage in more advanced self-directed study and to acquire a critical and evaluative understanding of social work and related disciplines.


Modules and delivery order may change for operational purposes.

The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our course and module disclaimer for more information.

Distance learning

Year 1 -- Semester 1
No Modules are Assigned to this Semester
Year 2 -- Semester 1
  • Psychology For Social Work Practice
  • Sociology For Social Work Practice
    Semester 2
  • Social Policy and Social Work Practice
  • Law And Legal Systems
  • Human Growth And Behaviour
    Semester 3
  • Reflective Practice And Professional Development 1
  • Practice Analysis 1
    Year 3 -- Semester 1
  • Social Work with Children and Families
  • Theory To Practice
  • Social Work With Older People
    Semester 2
  • Risk Analysis
  • Reflective Practice And Professional Development 2
  • Practice Analysis 2
    Year 4 -- Semester 1
  • Social Work With People With Substance Problems
  • Research Methods
  • Social Work in Criminal Justice
    Semester 2
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Social Work Practice in Mental Health and Disability
    Semester 3
  • Dissertation and Research Studies
  • This course is taught through a range of methods including 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 Materials and core texts will be provided for all modules except those that are related to Assessed Practice Learning.

    Activity Summary

    Students are required to attend two teaching blocks per calendar year of study at the University, each lasting one week. These teaching blocks involve a variety of different teaching methods and activities. They 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

    Depending on the stage of the course you could be in a cohort of between 25 to 50 students. Any days missed at the teaching blocks will be added onto the relevant assessed practice learning placement.

    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

    Staff delivering this course

    Our class sizes are small and this, along with a high level of contact time with staff, enables us to provide a friendly and supportive learning environment.


    You must have access to a suitable home computer to support your learning and access course material.

    Your primary learning environment is CampusMoodle

    You also have access to our on-campus facilities.

    • University Library
    • Georgina Scott Sutherland Learning Centre

    How you are assessed

    Completion of studies will be ratified at the course Assessment Board – currently planned for October 2021.

    All modules at each stage of the course are compulsory and developmental feedback will be provided for each module. Each stage of the course is worth 120 academic credits. The degree classification is based on the marks obtained for modules taken at Stage 4.


    We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in for all written exams, coursework and practical exams.

    Academic Support

    The Disability & Dyslexia Centre advises and supports students who disclose a sensory or mobility impairment, chronic medical condition, mental health issue, dyslexia and other specific learning differences. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a pre-entry visit to discuss any concerns and to view the facilities.

    Study Skills Support

    The Study Support Team provides training and support to all students in:

    • Academic writing
    • Study skills (note taking, exam techniques, time management, presentation)
    • Maths and statistics
    • English language
    • Information technology support

    More on Study Support

    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 with a range of service users. 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. For example, working as a social work assistant in a social work practice team. 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 following successful completion of the selection interview and will comprise of academic pieces of work as well as a practice assessment proforma based on practice from 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.

    Applicants for this stage of entry must contact the Admissions Tutor in advance of submitting an application.

    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 or equivalent and failure to evidence this will require a numeracy test to be completed at the interview stage.

    English Language

    Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS of 6.0 overall, with no component lower than 5.5.

    We accept a variety of in-country and secure English language tests, find out more:

    English Language requirements

    * All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. A small number of courses require higher levels, but this will be stated explicitly on your offer letter.

    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. This placement should be done with a different service user group in a different setting.

    Stage 4 entrants - there is no placement requirement.

    Placements are undertaken in a block period of full time days. Course staff will work with you to identify suitable opportunities for your placement(s) in your locality.


    This course is accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council.

    For Academic Year 2018/2019

    Scottish Students

    • £3,850 per stage

    EU Students

    • £5,230 per stage

    Rest of UK Students

    • £5,230 per stage

    International Students

    • £5,230 per stage

    For Academic Year 2017/2018

    Scottish Students

    • £3,740 per academic year

    EU Students

    • £5,080 per academic year

    Rest of UK Students

    • £5,080 per academic year

    International Students

    • £5,080 per academic year

    For Academic Year 2016/2017

    Scottish Students

    • £3,630 per academic year

    EU Students

    • £4,930 per academic year

    Rest of UK Students

    • £4,930 per academic year

    International Students

    • £4,930 per academic year

    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


    Course fees are reviewed periodically and so are subject to change for new applicants. All tuition fees are fixed for the duration of a course at the rate confirmed in your offer letter. You will also be liable to pay a graduation fee of £40 before receiving a University award.

    For further information see Student Finance pages


    The application process opens in August each year. This year applications will open on 7 August and applications will not be accepted prior to this date.

    The closing date for Standard Entry to Stage 2 in January 2019 is Monday 2 November 2018.

    The closing date for Advanced Entry to Stage 3 in May 2019 is 15 October 2018.

    This earlier date is to allow sufficient time for the preparation and submission of the Advanced Entry portfolio in 2019.

    Selection interviews for the course will be held at the University on the following dates:

    • Advanced Entry (Stage 3) – Wednesday 31 October 2017
    • Standard Entry (Stage 2) – Wednesday 8 November 2018

    The selection interviews will usually involve a written task and a face-to-face interview.

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

    Admissions Timetable Summary 2018-19

    Stage 2

    • 6 August 2018 - Applications open
    • 2 November 2018 - Applications close for Stage 2
    • 8 November 2018 - Selection interviews for Stage 2
    • 4 January 2018 - Induction block for Stage 2

    Stage 3

    • 6 August 2018 - Applications open
    • 15 October 2018 - Applications close for Stage 3
    • 31 October 2018 - Selection interviews for Stage 3
    • Late November 2018 - Stage 3 applicants start portfolio
    • 1 March 2019 - Portfolio submission date
    • 6 May 2019 (approximate date) - Induction block for Stage 3

    For further information please contact:

    If you are interested in applying for this course:

    Apply Online

    Terms and Conditions of Admissions

    The Terms and Conditions of Admission describe to applicants holding an offer of a place to study at RGU, the principal rights, duties and obligations of both the applicant and the University prior to enrolling on a course of study.

    Terms and Conditions of Admissions (PDF 142KB)

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