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The Open University Social Work Degree Programme in England. An introduction for employers. Photo: Karen Parker. Our track record. Successfully educating social workers since 1997 Over 1500 graduates in England since the launch of the Degree Programme in 2005

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The open university social work degree programme in england

The Open UniversitySocial Work Degree Programme in England

An introduction for employers

Photo: Karen Parker

Our track record
Our track record

  • Successfully educating social workers since 1997

  • Over 1500 graduates in England since the launch of the Degree Programme in 2005

  • Listed in top 5 for student satisfaction in the National Student Satisfaction Survey

  • Re-approved by HCPC in 2013

  • Co-produced award winning TV documentaries, including ‘Someone to watch over me’, ‘Sectioned’, ‘Protecting our children’

Ou social work programme the same but different
OU Social Work Programme: the same, but different

We are the same:

  • Regulation: HCPC

  • Complies with College of Social Work recommendations for

    • Curriculum

    • Assessment

  • Work in partnership with service users and carers

We are different:

  • Our students are already practitioners

  • Our tutors are practitioners

  • Distance learning

  • Employer supported and work based

  • Employers have ownership of practice placements

Added value
Added value

Develop staff and offer career progression within your organisation

A practitioner background can help newly qualified staff to fulfil their qualified role more quickly

Anecdotal evidence that sponsored students remain with their employers for longer

The ou work based social work degree programme
The OU work-based Social Work Degree Programme

  • Distance learning

  • Can be completed in 3 years but may extend to 8 years

  • Readiness for practice in the first stage

  • 2 practice placements in stages 2 and 3

  • Skills days and tutorials built into the Programme across all 3 years

  • Assessment against the PCF

  • Digital literacy skills development

Stages of study
Stages of study

Critical analysis:

K315 Critical social work practice

Application:K216 Applied social work practice


K113 Foundations for social work practice

What will students study
What will students study?

Stage 1K101 An introduction to Health and Social Care

K113 Foundations for Social Work Practice

Stage 2 K270 Social Work and the Law in England

K216 Applied Social Work Practice

Stage 3 Optional module – adult care or children and families or leadership and management

K315 Critical Social Work Practice

Study timeline
Study timeline


Stage 3 option




K101 (Oct)











Practice placements
Practice placements

  • 100 days on K216 (70 days from 2015)

  • 100 days on K315

  • One can be in the student’s own workplace

  • Final placement must cover statutory interventions

  • Holistic assessment against the regulatory and professional requirements of the PCF

  • Supervised and assessed by suitably qualified practice educator

  • Preparations for ASYE

The open university social work degree programme in england

The PCF and the newCurriculum




20 ‘readiness for practice’ days

New curriculum introduced 2014


100 days practice


70 days practice (PCF) plus skills days

New curriculum introduced 2015


100 days practice (PCF)

New curriculum and skills days introduced 2016


Student support people
Student support: people


  • Module tutors


  • Staff tutor

  • Learner support

On placement:

  • Programme tutor

  • Agency coordinator

  • Practice educators

  • Workplace supervisors

Student support resources
Student support: resources

Online resources provided in many formats:

Module study planner

OU Skills for study

Video, audio and podcasts

Interactive learning


Practice learning resources

OU library

Student support resources 2
Student support: resources (2)

  • Print based resources:

    • Guidance and handbooks

    • Printed study materials

    • Readings

    • Readers


  • Academic assignments (TMAs)

  • Interactive computer marked assessments (iCMAs)

  • End-of-module assessments and exams

  • Practice assessment report

Rigorous quality assurance
Rigorous quality assurance

  • Correspondence tuition is monitored

  • Practice learning evaluation

  • Continuing professional development of tutors

  • Subject to regular review under OU QA processes

  • Student and employer feedback

  • Stakeholder groups

The student is required to
The student is required to…

  • Study for 16-18 hours per week, for each 60 credit module

  • Submit assessments by the due dates

  • Attend skills days and tutorials

  • Have a lot of stamina!

The employer is required to
The employer is required to…

Sponsor students by:

  • Providing 2 placements at intermediate and final stages

  • Providing 2 different suitably qualified practice educators

  • Ensuring the student is supported with appropriate study time

Selection onto the programme 1
Selection onto the Programme (1)

Interview for selection can be conducted by


  • the sponsoring agency (if approved by the OU)


  • the OU (on specified selection days at predetermined locations)

Selection 2
Selection (2)

Entry requirements include:

  • 240 UCAS credits (A’ level) or K101

  • GCSE grade A*-C in English and Maths

  • Declaration of suitability for social work:

    • Enhanced DBS with lists

    • Medical fitness to practise

  • Formal application with written statement

  • Panel interview including written test (may involve a group exercise)

    * Evidence of meeting academic requirements will be needed at interview

Further information
Further information

  • Health and Social Care prospectus

  • Social work programme website:

  • Opening Doors: How to implement the Social Work Degree Programme (England) in your Agency

  • Regional office Learner Support

Faculty of health and social care the open university walton hall milton keynes mk7 6aa
Faculty of Health and Social CareThe Open UniversityWalton HallMilton KeynesMK7 6AA