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UCC Undergraduate courses

Social Work

Course Fact File
Duration4 Years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBSW (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8
FeesStudent Contribution + Capitation Fee: €3,138 See Fees and Costs for full details.
CAO Points*Mature Entry*

Course Outline

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) will make you eligible to apply to be registered as a social worker with regulatory bodies in Ireland and internationally. This full-time four-year undergraduate degree is open to mature students only, and integrates university-based and agency-based learning. Successful completion leads to an academic qualification (BSW) and it is approved by the Health and Social Care Professional Council as a social work training course.

Years 1 and 2 of the course are college-based and lectures take place over two 12-week semesters.

In Years 3 and 4, you undertake one semester in college and another on a 14-week professional placement.

Year 1 Modules
  • AP1022 Social Psychology (5 credits)
  • AP1023 Lifespan Development (5 credits)
  • EC1121 Markets, Governments and the Economics of Social Issues (Semester 1) (5 credits)
  • EC1122 Markets, Governments and the Economics of Social Issues (Semester 2) (5 credits)
  • SS1017 Politics and Social Policy (Part 1) (10 credits)
  • SS1018 Politics and Social Policy (Part 2) (5 credits)
  • SS1202 Introduction to Social Work Theory, Methods and Skills (10 credits)
  • SC1012 Introduction to Sociology (Part A) (5 credits)
  • SC1013 Key Issues in Sociology (Part B) (10 credits)
Year 2 Modules
  • Social Policy: Child Care Policy; Mixed Economy of Welfare and Personal Social Services; Social Policy and Social Work; Introduction to Social Work Practice
  • Social Work: Skills Laboratory; Social Work Methods; Social Work Practice Contexts; Social Recovery Approaches to Mental Health; Social Research
Year 3 Modules
  • Law: Legal Studies
  • Social Work: Placement; Placement Portfolio; Life Courses, Biographies and Reflective Learning; Child Care and Protection Practice; Deviance; Welfare and Justice; Social Work Methods
Year 4 Modules
  • Law: Legal Studies
  • Social Work: Placement; Placement Portfolio; Anti-Racism and Anti-Discriminatory Practice; Contemporary Issues in Social Work; Action Research Study

As a professionally validated course, the BSW has a mandatory attendance policy. In order to have a clear record of attendance, class attendance records are kept.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Expected lecture hours: The BSW is a full-time undergraduate course which is demanding in terms of the commitment required to undertake it. Each year of the course has 12-15 lecturing hours per week.

Expected reading hours: You will be expected to undertake at least 15 hours reading time in order to meet the assignment deadlines.

Expected practical hours: During Years 3 and 4 you will spend a semester (14 weeks) on a social work placement. While on placement, normal working hours apply (eg 9am-5pm).

Other practicalities
Commencing with the 2013/2014 intake, this programme will be subject to UCC's Fitness to Practise Policy – full details may be found here.

Student Garda Vetting is carried out by the Admissions Office in UCC once a student has accepted their place on this programme.


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May.  Not all modules will have written examinations.  Many modules use other types of assessment.

The BSW course is assessed through a variety of methods, including continuous assessment, exams and practice placements (14 weeks in Years 3 and 4). There is also a compulsory attendance policy and you are required to fully attend all lectures, tutorials and practice placement. In order to pass each module, you must satisfy the attendance requirements.

Who teaches this course

  • Lydia Sapouna, BSW Course Director
  • Hilary Jenkinson, BSW Deputy Course Director & Year 4 Coordinator
  • Joan Cronin, BSW Year 1 Coordinator
  • Noirin O Donoghue, BSW Years 2 & 3 Coordinator
  • Edel Daly, BSW Year 3 Coordinator
  • Margaret O'Leary, BSW Executive Assistant

Why Choose This Course

I urge anyone thinking about taking the step to go back to education, and, specifically if considering the BSW, to take that step and apply...

Declan Kelly, BSW Student

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The Bachelor of Social Work at UCC appealed to me as the programme is open to mature students...

Victoria Wagaba, North Lee Duty Team

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From day one in UCC I have been able to explore new ideas, challenge my thinking, and build confidence in becoming an agent of social change...

Emma Johnson, BSW Student

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Studying social work has been an incredible experience for me. Having returned to education as a mother of two, trying to balance work and college, I received encouragement from all of my tutors...

Hildah Mushangwe, BSW Student

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... it was wonderful to be part of a group of diverse, yet like-minded, people who worked hard, and also had fun, together; I’m happy to say several classmates have become good friends.

Louise McCormick, Mental Health Social Worker, CAMHS

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The BSW is a full-time, professional course that requires considerable commitment on the part of students. However, as the BSW is a course specifically for mature students, we have particular interest in trying to support students who may be returning to education after a lengthy absence. This is reflected in the orientation of the course and how it is run.

We recognise the valuable life and professional experiences you bring to the course, and you are encouraged to critically reflect on these in order to promote the development of your social-work practice. The course also incorporates approaches to teaching and learning appropriate for adult learners.

These methods include interactive teaching, group work, self-directed study, critical reflective learning, peer feedback and continuous assessment.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Practice placements are an integral part of the course. You are required to complete two 14-week fieldwork placements, for at least one of which you may be required to move outside Cork (consideration is given to students with children and other caring responsibilities).

The course has a wide range of placements within both voluntary organisations and statutory agencies in Ireland and abroad. We have strong links with agencies in South Africa, Chicago (US) and India and several students have completed placements with these organisations.

Skills and Careers Information

This course is approved by the Health and Social Care Professional Council (CORU) as a socialwork training course. Successful graduates can use their qualification to apply to CORU to be placed on the register of social workers. In Ireland, all social workers will need to be registered in order to practise.

International accreditation bodies also recognise the BSW for registration purposes. Social workers are employed in a wide variety of contexts including:

  • hospitals
  • child protection teams
  • the probation and welfare service
  • family support agencies
  • disability organisations
  • youth settings
  • community organisations


This programme is open to Mature Students only (i.e. those who are 23 years of age by 1 January of the year of proposed entry).  Application is made through the CAO and the closing date for receipt of completed applications is 1 February of the year of proposed entry.  

Selection for the programme is based on:

  • Mature Student Evaluation (MSE) results
  • Statement of Interest in CAO form: this should outline your motivation and interest in pursuing this course and readiness to undertake professional training in social work.
  • CV (included in your CAO application)
  • Evidence of interest and/or knowledge in social issues and social work; evidence of required academic potential; evidence of relevant life and/or work experience; readiness to undertake professional training.

Shortlisted candidates attend the selection day in the School of Applied Social Studies. The selection process includes group and individual interviews. There are no official qualifications required to gain entry to the BSW. You will be judged on your:

  • relevant experience (both work and life experience)
  • potential to complete a demanding undergraduate programme of study
  • demonstrated commitment to social work interest in and knowledge of social issues
  • commitment to this field of activity.

All qualifying candidates are welcome to apply.

In recent years, the BSW has included students from many different backgrounds, from a variety of nationalities, and a wide range of interests and lifestyles. We encourage this diversity. The BSW is committed to positively contributing to social work. Our vision is to provide a critical educational experience for our students that will contribute to them becoming a positive force in society. 

Fitness to Practise

This programme is subject to UCC's Fitness to Practise Policy

Student Garda Vetting

All students on this programme will come into contact with the public and assume positions of trust through educational and training opportunities. To ensure the protection of the public, and to justify public trust and confidence, UCC is committed to ensuring that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake this programme. 

Vetting is carried out by the Admissions Office in UCC under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Acts) once a student has accepted their place on the programme. This involves a police check to establish whether the individual being vetted has had criminal convictions in the past or whether any criminal proceedings are pending. The Garda Siochána provide this information for students who have resided in Ireland for a period of six months or more (including permanent residence). 

All students who have resided outside Ireland for a period of six months or more must furnish a Police Clearance Certificate from their country or countries of residence. This certificate should state that the student has had no convictions recorded against them while residing there. 

Further information can be found on our Student Garda Vetting page. 

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

How To Apply

Advanced Entry

Enquiries regarding Advanced Entry to the BSW Programme should be made to

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact