Social work is centred on people, of all ages, races and class backgrounds and attempts to make their lives better. Social workers collaborate with individuals and families to improve outcomes and quality of life. It’s an intense and responsible job, and an employee’s actions will have consequences, whether they are right or wrong.
Social workers ensure the welfare of vulnerable groups or individuals who need that extra support. Social work as a subject area includes elements of psychology, law and sociology.
Social policy is the study of various areas of policy, within a political or governmental setting, and is concerned with everything from the welfare state, to social services. Social policy is an academic study of theory, rather than current systems and draws from psychology, sociology, philosophy, and economics.
Each university will ask for varying grades and UCAS tariff points from their prospective candidates. Therefore students are advised to check with their chosen institutions and degree programmes to ensure they understand what they need to obtain to gain admission.
Social work degree programmes mix vocational training with academic learning, and the majority of courses will be three years in length. Some universities ask students to complete placement days, where they have to complete a certain number as part as their assessment. Students are taught in a classroom environment, which can be applied to real-life situations, either through placements or employment – (Learn more – What if my course has placement).
Most degrees offer candidates the chance to specialise in an area of interest in the second and third years. Students will study a range of modules, and each programme will offer similar, or different modules, so it’s important students choose the right university and course as they will have some play with tweaking the modules. Examples of modules available are as follows: developing professional practice, ethics and values, law and social policy, social work theory methods, research and evidence, interprofessional practice, and comparative perspectives of welfare.
There is a range of Bachelors of Arts (BA) and Bachelors of Science (BSc) degrees available, including, learning disabilities nursing and social work, sports rehabilitation, social welfare and advice, applied for social work.
Social policy will offer high levels of expertise in politics, economics, sociology, theory and history. It provides more room for creativity, as candidates do not just focus on the content of the policies themselves, but actively seek solutions to police problems. Completing a degree in this area will offer skills that are useful for a handful of careers, especially the theoretical and analytical capabilities that employers find desirable.
The placements will provide powerful insight into what the job will involve; however, it can difficult not to become personally involved, and to control emotions in this type of career – however, this will become easier to deal with through experience – (Learn more – Is having a placement good for your degree).
Students will be assessed through a mixture of methods, including, written examinations, coursework, project work, presentations, and placement days if the degree programme requires it.
Individuals will gain skills in analysis, critical thinking, and evaluate situations, as well as strong communication and social skills.
Students who attend university gain a numerous set of skills that they can use in employment and other areas of their life after they graduate, especially time-management and organisation by working towards deadlines.
A social policy degree and/or social work degree opens up opportunities to work in private businesses, charities, public agencies, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and police departments. A social worker enjoys working with individuals in a community and cares about their quality of life and will be interested in helping out every person they can.
Some students find work quickly after they graduate, primarily through successful placement work, while others, with no experience, may find it harder to secure employment. Prospective candidates should check if their degree offers placement work, as it will not only aid learning throughout the course but could be the difference of finding a job quickly after graduating.
Social work degrees teach individuals’ skills, such as research, communication and presentation, which is highly sought after by employers.
Furthermore, students can volunteer throughout their degree to gain more experience to aid their job search when they finish.
Students should also contact the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) if they are worried about employment opportunities. The association offers a lot of advice and information for students and graduates of social work/policy degrees.
Particular jobs include; probation officer, careers advisor, counselling, charity work, adult guidance, volunteer coordinator, youth work officer and a social worker.
Individuals who want to study after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree can complete a Masters degree with the following options; Masters of Arts (MA) or Masters of Science (MSc) degrees in the following subjects: adult services support, advanced clinical practice, social work, advanced child protection, neurorehabilitation and autism practice.
Samuel L. Jackson, known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Jackie Brown worked as a social worker for two years in Los Angeles. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts (BA) degree from Morehouse University in Atlanta in 1969.
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