Frequently Asked Questions About the Selection Process

Frequently Asked Questions About the Selection Process


What are the important dates in the selection process?
The advert to notify the opening of the selection process is normally placed on the School website early December. The closing date for applications is normally mid-January. The interviews usually take place last week of February / the first two weeks of March. Applicants receive a decision about 4 weeks after the end of the interview process. The course starts the middle of September.

What award does the MSW lead to?

The Master of Social Work (MSW) course leads to two possible degree awards. Students whose grades are 50% or higher on all modules and pass their placements are awarded a Master of Social Work at end of the course. Students whose grades are less than 50% or do not complete a dissertation, and pass their placements, are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work Studies (PGDSWS) at the end of the course.

Will I be a professionally qualified social worker when I graduate?
Both academic awards will make you eligibleto apply to the Health and Social Care Professional Council (CORU) for registration as a social worker.  This is an independent process managed by CORU and successful completion of the MSW/PGDSWS does not guarantee registration as a social worker in Ireland or in any other country. The MSW is a long established course recognised by CORU and other international regulatory bodies; however, Irish and international regulatory bodies take other factors into account as well as your academic qualification when making a decision regarding registration. Please see the CORU website for further information.

What degrees/courses are recognised as equivalent to the BSocSc (National University of Ireland) and what subjects would I need to have studied?

The Bachelor of Social Science degree is the primary for equivalency purposes for the MSW/PGDSWS. All of the level 8 BA (Hons.) Applied Social Studies (Social Care) degrees from the IT sector in the Republic of Ireland, the BA Early Childhood Studies degree (UCC), Bachelor Degree and Higher Diploma in Youth and Community Work, BA Hons in Social Policy, and non-equivalent degrees where the candidate has also completed a recognised Higher Diploma in Social Policy such as the one provided by UCC, are recognised as equivalent to the BSocSc degree for the purpose of applying to the MSW.

If your course is not on this list, but it contains a substantial amount of social policy (inc. economics), some sociology, and some psychology, you may be eligible to apply. Students whose degree course does not fit this subject profile would need to complete a H.Dip in social policy before they would be eligible to apply.

My degree is not one of the degrees recognised -
can I apply?
Prospective candidates who would like to pursue a career in social work, but whose degree is not recognised as equivalent to the BSocSc, can do a conversion course in the School of Applied Social Studies called the Higher Diploma in Social Policy, which, in conjunction with your primary degree, will make you eligible for interview if you have also met the other entrance requirements (such as a minimum of 420 hours social work-related practice experience). The Higher Diploma in Social Policy course is run over one academic year.

My degree is not a level 8 degree - can I apply? 
If you have a Bachelor of Applied Social Studies (Social Care) ordinary level degree from an Institute of Technology (level 7), before the degrees were upgraded to level 8 degrees you will need to do some work to upgrade your degree to a level 8 degree. Please contact your college to discuss your options, for example, to complete an add on year for an Honours BA degree (level 8). Alternatively, you could complete a Higher Diploma in Social Policy that would also give you the honours year and the required level 8 qualification in Social Science.

What does the interview day look like?
We usually run four separate interview days and candidates attend one of the selection days. Following a registration and orientation process that runs from 9 am, candidates participate in a number of group interviews. Later that day, anytime up to 4pm, candidates are offered an individual interview lasting approximately 20-30 minutes. The selection panel for each interview day is comprised of staff from the School of Applied Social Studies and social work practitioners/practice teachers.

What does social work-related practice experience mean?

To be eligible for interview, candidates must have at least 420 hours social work-related practice experience on the day of their interview. Examples of practice experiences that candidates have undertaken in the past include: Simon Community, Comhairle (Citizens Information Services), Nightline (UCC), residential care work, observational placements such as Probation and Health Service Executive, access work with the Health Service Executive, social work posts, disability services, community and voluntary groups, youth work, SUAS (UCC), Hope Foundation, volunteer programmes abroad, advocacy groups such as Alzheimer's society, Age Action, Amnesty International, and, and, and … (not an exhaustive list!).

It is not expected that these are paid positions, nor that candidates have done the hours consecutively, nor that your role was that of a social worker. As long your social work-related practice experience adds up to at least 470 hours and you can explain why you think your practice experience is related to social work, then that is likely to be satisfactory. Of course, you will need to present your learning from these practice experiences at interview and this will be assessed. A pre-selection review of the applications takes place by the MSW course team to assess the relevance of the social work-related practice experience of all candidates. It is important that candidates provide as much detail about their work experience as possible (number of hours, exact name and address of organization, the title of your role and a clear description of your duties and responsibilities).

Garda Clearance: What if I have a Garda/Police record?
All students on this programme will require Garda clearance in order to attend student placements. University College Cork has made arrangements with the Gardaí in relation to Garda Clearance procedures.  All candidates who accept places on this programme must complete and sign GARDA CLEARANCE FORMS and return them to UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, CORK. Please note:  All students must have Garda clearance.  Should matters arise in the Garda check form, a student may be asked to delay taking up a placement until a clearance is confirmed or, alternatively, they may be requested to leave the course. The public interest and protection of vulnerable persons will take precedence in our deliberations regarding the nature of a person's record. Some very minor incidents on a person's record from a long time ago may be deemed acceptable by UCC, but this does not guarantee that CORU or a similar international regulatory body will take the same opinion and we provide no warranty in this regard. From UCC's perspective, offenses of a recent, and/or sexual, violent, criminal, or recurring nature are very likely to lead to exclusion. A further Garda clearance and fit persons test will be undertaken by the professional registration body CORU upon successful completion of the course, should a graduate apply to use the title of social worker.

I don’t have 470 of social work-related practice experience, but I will have the hours completed by the interview date - can I still apply?
Yes, we would encourage you to apply, but please state clearly on your application form how you hope to complete the hours before the interview date (normally March of each year).

I am having some difficulty certifying some of my practice experience – what can I do?

We are aware that in certain cases it may not be possible to certify all of your practice experience, for example, where an agency has closed down. Please place an explanatory note next to this entry on your application form.

I would like to apply for the MSW but can’t attend for interview in Cork - can I do a phone or video-conference interview?

All candidates must participate fully in the selection process, which involves attending the group and individual interviews held in Cork. However, if you are working or studying outside of Ireland and can't attend in person on your interview day, you can submit a request to the MSW Director to be interviewed over Skype or video link.

Why have I not been offered an interview?
We try to offer interviews to all applicants; however, as there is a limit to the number of applicants that we can interview over the four days of interviews, a short-listing process may take place. This short-listing procedure examines the presentation and quality of the written applications, whether applicants have included all of the relevant documentation, whether applicants’ academic qualifications are equivalent to the BSocSc, academic ability and the quality and breadth of applicants’ social work-related practice experience is examined. In particular, candidates whose applications are incomplete, are not offered interviews.

I have previously applied for the MSW, but was not successful at interview – can I apply again?

If you have previously been unsuccessful in securing a place on the MSW, you may reapply. If you are not offered a place the first time you apply, do not be discouraged; students in the past have come back and reapplied with more experience. They have told us that in retrospect they were pleased they did not get on the course first time around as they now realise that they were not ready and that more experience has been extremely beneficial for them in engaging with the course.

I live outside the European Union - can I apply?

International/Non-EU students must apply online also through PAC system but they must also complete the Non-EU Taught Application form rather than the EU taught form. The same supplementary candidate’s statement form and references are also attached.
If the applicants are from countries where English is not their first language, they also have to submit an IELTS or TOEFL English language proficiency result as part of their application. The closing date for applications is the same also. The applications are processed through the International Education Office who liaises with the School of Applied Social Studies. The International Education Office check the comparability of the degree, grading standards compared to the level of the degrees in Ireland/Britain on the UK NARIC database and provide the School of Applied Social Studies with advice on this from their findings on UK NARIC.

School of Applied Social Studies

Staidéar Sóisialta Feidhmeach

William Thompson House, Donovan's Road, Cork, Ireland.