Social Work

About the degree

This degree prepares students for employment in a complex, diverse and changing environment.

Human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work, according to the International Federation of Social Work definition of the profession. Graduates are expected to be reflective, versatile and skilled in a range of practice areas, and able to translate professional values into action.

Social workers may use many different types of intervention such as community work; individual and family counselling; group work; policy development; advocacy; and research.

They work in varied contexts such as health services, aged care, women’s services, disability services, child and family services, international development, and migration and refugee services.

Requirements for completion

Candidates for the Bachelor of Social Work are required to complete 192 credit points.

First year

The unique "2 + 2" structure of the Bachelor of Social Work – two years' study in the Faculty of Arts plus two years' professional studies in social work and social policy with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work – allows students to combine qualifying as a professional social worker with two years' tertiary studies in other areas of interest such as languages or history.

Second year

The unique "2 + 2" structure of the Bachelor of Social Work continues, with the second year of studies focusing largely on courses in the Faculty of Arts. In addition, in second year, students take their first social work and policy study units and are exposed to the program’s critical, anti-oppressive approach to theory, Aboriginal issues and perspectives, “mental health”, life stages and social research.

Third year

Students move into the social work and policy area intensively and are introduced to social work and social policy as a distinctive, hybrid discipline, drawing on critical interdisciplinary and discipline-specific knowledge and theory. Students will extend their knowledge of and ability to critically assess and evaluate: social policies shaping the social worlds; and the social processes and practices that empower and oppress the populations with whom we work. Students develop practice skills and undertake their first field placement in which practice, theory and knowledge come together in an applied context.

Fourth Year

Students continue to deepen their critical analysis, skills and knowledge base. They complete their second field placement and participate in a range of courses that integrate and extend their capacity to apply critical, anti-oppressive frames to pressing social problems and social needs


In third year, Honours students participate in research seminars to provide them with a higher level of research skills and analysis. Students work closely with a faculty member, who acts as their supervisor in fourth year on a research project involving original data and deepening student’s capacity to undertake rigorous, theory-engaged, social justice-linked research. Students produce a research report that demonstrates their capacity to participate in a social research project and reflect critically on it.

Contact/further information

Bachelor of Social Work, Program Director, Dr Margaret Spencer
Sydney School of Education and Social Worl

Learning outcomes

The Bachelor of Social Work produces graduates who:

  1. understand the contribution of social work and social policy in working towards social justice
  2. have skills in communication, empathy, self-awareness in practice, providing resources, assessment and exercising professional judgment
  3. have the ability to undertake research in practice
  4. make appropriate and constructive responses at all levels of intervention and across the range of workplace contexts
  5. understand the interdependence of theory, practice, policy and research
  6. can critically and constructively reflect upon their own professional practice.