Social workers help people to overcome personal and institutional barriers to well-being and achieve their full potential. They work with individuals, families, groups, and organisations in a wide range of contexts.
The Bachelor of Social Work with Honours (BSW(Hons)) is a great option to consider if you are interested in working in a people-focused career. Professionally trained people are needed in increasing numbers to work in the social services, nationally and internationally.
Students develop a strong academic foundation by studying a variety of courses from the social sciences and Māori studies, as well as specialist Social Work topics. Later on in the degree, a fieldwork internship takes place in the community. Combined, this academic and practical foundation equips students with the values, knowledge, and skills for employment in the social work profession, as well as in people-related, social policy, and research occupations.
- One of Aotearoa New Zealand's longest-established Social Work programmes.
- UC offers qualifications which are internationally regarded and recognised by the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB).
- The programme is well-known for its high-quality Social Work education and research.
- The Social Work programme is friendly and accessible with interactive classes, a specially designed blended learning programme, and a strong practice orientation.
- Students will work with diverse populations and learn about practical issues relevant to Māori, Pacific, and other communities.
- There is the opportunity to pursue special interests in topics such as mental health, child welfare, criminal justice, ageing, violence and abuse, and gender and sexuality studies.
Entry to the first year of the Bachelor of Social Work with Honours is open to all students with entry to the University.
While there are no particular school subjects required for the study of Social Work, a background in subjects which require communication skills such as English, history, geography, or te reo Māori are useful. Volunteer work in the community is good preparation.
Students in the first year of the BSW(Hons) will complete:
- HSRV 103 Violence in Society
- SOWK 101 Introduction to Social Welfare Policy and Human Services
- SOWK 102 Human Services in Aotearoa
- SOWK 104 Youth Realities
- MAOR 108 Aotearoa: Introduction to New Zealand Treaty Society or MAOR 165 He Tīmatanga: Engaging with Māori
Plus a choice of three 100-level courses selected from:
- Criminal Justice
- Māori and Indigenous Studies
- Political Science and International Relations
- Te Reo Māori
- WRIT 101 Writing for Academic Success
Social Work courses at 100-level can also be taken by students studying for other degrees who want to build into their studies a knowledge of social work practice, policy, and research.
200-level and beyond
There are five compulsory 200-level Social Work courses that explore communication in the human services, human behaviour and development, and also social policy debates in the social service; one compulsory 200-level Human Services course that focuses on diversity and culture; and one compulsory Māori and Indigenous Studies course. Students also have a choice from a range of prescribed 200-level courses in supporting subjects.
Limited entry to each year of the BSW(Hons)
Entry to the second, third, and fourth years of the BSW(Hons) is limited to students who have successfully completed the compulsory 100-level courses and who have been accepted into the programme following an application process each year. If you are unable to or decide not to continue with a Social Work degree, you can credit 100 and 200-level courses to a Bachelor of Arts.
The third and fourth years of the BSW(Hons) include courses in social work theory and method, research methodologies, mental health, law, and indigenous social work. In third year, the skills course assists students to identify and develop interpersonal helping skills using role-plays, video equipment, and small group discussions.
In fourth year, students undertake a research project and two fieldwork placements in social service agencies. During this time, they are supervised by field educators who help them integrate the knowledge, values, and skills taught at UC with social work practice in the community.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, social workers are employed in both the public and private sectors, providing direct and indirect services. Direct services include those for children, families, older people, those who have committed offences, and people with disabilities. Indirect services encompass social sector planning, administration, policy, and research.
Direct services may include the protection of children who have been abused, providing group or family therapy, educational programmes for at-risk adolescents, supporting adolescent parents, working with groups aiming to achieve community development, providing interventions for people who are experiencing mental health issues, providing assistance with housing needs, mediation and resolution of family conflict, facilitating access to benefits and other financial resources, and assessment of home and family support for older people.
Social Work graduates can work as community development workers, therapists, counsellors, case managers, field workers, youth workers, care and protection workers, probation officers, iwi social workers, school social workers, hospital social workers, service coordinators, educators, policy analysts, and researchers.
Graduates are employable overseas, particularly in the UK and Australia (there is a Mutual Recognition Agreement between the NZSWRB and the Australian Association of Social Workers).
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Social Work.
3rd Floor, Geography/Psychology Building – see campus maps
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Browse related subjects to Social Work
Choose an area that you are interested in and learn how UC's extensive range of study options can let you study what you want to.
Human Services is referred to as the study of the professions. Human Services (HSRV) programmes and courses are now being taught at universities ...