Social Work


Be a change-maker

Social Workers are trained to understand people. Their role is to work with individuals, couples, families, communities and organisations for their collective well-being.

Social Workers help people through challenging circumstances such as homelessness, addiction, abuse, mental illness, poverty, aging and discrimination. Social Workers seek practical solutions to reduce stress and improve quality of life. This is intense work, but with that comes immense professional fulfilment.

Our Social Work degree has a strong emphasis on practical skills. You will dive into professional practice courses right from the first year. You will gain expertise in a variety of practice areas, as well as in research and policy studies.

You will participate in our field education program which includes opportunities for students to undertake their placement in Australia and in partnering countries. Placements are an integral part of the degree, as they allow you to apply classroom learning in real-life situations.


Study areas

The Bachelor of Social Work with Honours is a four year degree which includes studies in the areas of:

  • social work practice
  • social and behavioural sciences
  • contextual studies

Our Social Work courses will help you develop research skills, including research design and methodology. As part of the Honours requirement, every student completes either a piece of independent research by way of thesis or an advanced practice portfolio.

Core courses

The Bachelor of Social Work draws on the extensive expertise and experience of qualified Social Work practitioners to deliver a unique combination of scholarly and practise-based courses.

Core courses in the Social Work program include:

  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Communication and Social Work
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Psychology
  • Social Work Practice: Individuals/Families and Groups
  • Research for Social Work
  • Aboriginal People and Social Work
  • Social Work Practice: Field Placement
  • Socio-Legal Practice
  • Social Work Practice in Organisations

Field placements

As a Social Work student, you have the opportunity to focus on particular contexts or methods of practice, directed by the elective courses and placements you chose.

You will undertake two field placements during your degree:

  1. The first Social Work placement is in Terms 1 and 2 of third year and involves 70 days placement in an agency.
  2. The second is in Term 2 and 3 of fourth year and involves 70 days of placement in an agency.

Each placement also involves compulsory seminars on campus.

Pathways from TAFE NSW

Gaining advanced standing

Our undergraduate Social Work program has a formal agreement with TAFE NSW regarding the articulation of students from the Community Services program.

Students admitted to Bachelor of Social Work who have completed the relevant diplomas under the TAFE Community Services Training Package will receive TAFE Credit Transfer for 48 units of credit, which is equivalent to one year full-time study.

Visit the School of Social Sciences website to find out more.


Professional accreditation

The UNSW Bachelor of Social Work degree qualifies graduates for membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) which is required by many employers.

Our Social Work graduates can be found in the following organisations:


  • public hospitals including general and mental health services
  • community health services


  • state and federal government departments including Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services, Health, Social Security, Community Services, Probation and Parole
  • local government organisations focused on social-planning and delivery of services for local residents

Non-government organisations

  • United Nations (UN) agencies such as UN Development Programme, UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF
  • Save the Children, International Red Cross and AusAid
  • community, peak (representative) councils, private, charitable and religious organisations

Private organisations

  • corporate settings including unions, state transport services, banks, the armed services and private industry
  • counsellors, psychotherapists, planning and social policy


Overseas placements and exchange program

When you study Social Work at UNSW, you will have the opportunity to complete your final Social Work placement in India, Canada or Sweden.

You can also spend a term overseas at a partner university and receive credit towards your degree at UNSW. \

UNSW has over 200 partner universities in over 38 countries.

Honours streams

In the fourth year of your Social Work degree you will enter one of two Honours streams:

  • Honours Stream One - You will complete an enquiry based professional portfolio undertaken alongside your fourth year of study which integrates scholarship with your professional social work course and placement context.
  • Honours Stream Two - You will conduct your own small practice, or conceptual research project, and have the opportunity to produce a research-based thesis.

Dual degrees

UNSW handbook

Degree program structure and academic rules information:

If you are a current student, please refer to the Online Handbook in the year you commenced your degree.

Alumni Profile
Alumni Profile Tahlia Trijbetz

Read more about Tahlia's journey from UNSW Social Work student to Case Manager at the Eastern Suburbs Community Mental Health Team

Find out more about Social Work at UNSW
Find out more about Social Work at UNSW Visit our discipline hub

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Videos Student Stories: Jade on the Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Social Work   Student Stories: Jade on the Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Social Work

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