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Why Study Education & Social Work?

Subject and Study Guides


The disciplines of Social Work and Education all have moments of crossover, the similarities lie in community well-being, all of these fields focus on care and human development in some way, though there are unique qualities too.  

When you study Social Work, you’ll have the opportunity to gain skills that help solve challenging and impactful situations, whether it’s helping a victim of abuse, empowering an elderly person to live independently, or helping a young person see their potential. Social workers impact some of the most vulnerable people in our society, it’s a challenging but rewarding degree that requires a passion for caring for people and supporting individual well-being.   

Education degrees also focus on well-being, but in the context of learning. Teaching courses give you the tools and knowledge to bring out the best in young people through education.  


What will I learn on a Social Work and Education course? 

Social Work helps people in need. Whether they're struggling with addiction, mental health issues, poverty or abuse, social workers are there to help. When you study social work, you learn to provide vital services and support to those who need it most. Social Work courses develop your caregiving abilities and help us understand how to meet the basic needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities.  

Education courses require an overview of social factors that Social Work focuses on. But the main focus for those who study Education is on how these factors affect young people’s learning development rather than social. If you study education, it’s likely that you want to be, or are a teacher. Teaching is an important and impactful job that requires you to share knowledge well, but also be mindful of personal and social development. 


What are the benefits of studying Social Work and Education? 

Making a positive impact 

Social Work and Education courses are all about understanding and striving to improve the lives of people in society. Whether your goal is to become a Social Worker, Teacher or follow a career related to this degree you’ll develop the skills to make a positive impact in the world. 

Valuable skills, for life 

When you study Social Work or Education  you’ll develop skills that are beneficial for many different career paths. When you study social work you’ll become a strong communicator, with strong interpersonal skills, you’ll gain knowledge about laws and practices and caregiving techniques.  

Education courses develop your skills in presentation and communication, as well as problem-solving and quick thinking. Not only will these skills help advance your chosen career path in social policy or social work, but you’ll find that they are assets to any employer and may benefit you personally too. 

Crucial work, in demand. 

There will always be people in need and the most vulnerable people in society will always need advocacy and support. As our population continues to grow, there’s an ever-increasing demand for teachers and those who support young people and our population at large. Graduates with good results, strong subject knowledge and practical experience can often find work for life in this field. 

Learn more about the benefits of studying Social Work & Education.




What qualifications and subjects do you need to study Social Work and Education? 


All Applicants

When assessing applicants, universities are looking for the right character and personality when it comes to Social Work and Education. Subjects like health and social care, psychology and sociology may help your application, but most Social Work and Education courses don’t require you to have gained qualifications in these areas unless it’s otherwise specified.  

It’s likely you’ll need core subjects like Maths, Science, and English to GCSE level at least, check the specific degree you’re interested in to be sure. 

Many Social Work courses and Education courses require an interview to be offered a place. At the interview, you’ll be asked questions about your personality, reasons for your interest in the field, as well as questions about your approach to ethics and challenging situations.  

You aren’t expected to be an expert or know everything about the subject at the interview (that’s what your degree is for!) but you’ll need to demonstrate your care and compassion, your dedication, sensitivity and empathy, resilience, and social skills.  

Undergraduate Study 

Most undergraduate degrees in Social Work and Education require you to have studied some sort of humanities topic at school, which might be a Sociology A level, but you might also benefit from studying English, Politics, Law, and Psychology.  

It’s likely you’ll need to complete a DBS and health check for qualifying Social Work and Education degrees.  

If you study Social Work at Northumbria University, you’ll need 120 UCAS Tariff points from a combination of acceptable Level 3 qualifications which may include: A-level, T Level, BTEC Diplomas/Extended Diplomas, Scottish and Irish Highers, Access to HE Diplomas, or the International Baccalaureate. Social Work applicants will need Maths and English GCSE qualifications at a minimum grade of 4/C, or an equivalent, Education and Teaching applications will require the same with the addition of the same minimum grade in English.  

If you have a qualification from outside of the UK or have equivalent qualifications please check the guidelines and requirements for your chosen course. 

Postgraduate Study 

Usually, to study for a Masters in Social Work degree, you’ll need a strong undergraduate degree in a relevant field. That might be a Social Work BA, but if you studied other humanities subjects like Sociology or Anthropology there may be room to cross over into a Social Work MRes or MA. Masters in Education degrees require a strong undergraduate qualification, usually A minimum of a 2:2 honours degree or an equivalent qualification such as a Certificate in Education (Cert Ed). 

It’s likely you’ll need to complete a DBS and health check for qualifying Social Work and Education degrees.  

If you study Social Work at Northumbria University minimum of a 2.2 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject area, and GCSEs at Grade 4 (Grade C) or above in English Language and Mathematics. It’s worth checking the specifics of the Masters in History degree you’re interested in for specific requirements.  

If you have a qualification from outside of the UK or have equivalent qualifications please check the guidelines and requirements for your chosen course. 




What career prospects do Social Work and Education offer?


Career prospects for Social Work graduates with industry experience and good degree results are strong, there are a number of graduate schemes as well as opportunities to join public and private sector organisations as social workers after graduation. Many social work courses include structured accreditation to enable graduates to become qualified, practising social workers. Graduating with an accredited degree is a valuable employability asset, it shows that your training is in line with the industry standards and ensures you graduate with the skills that the sector is looking for.  


Teachers are often in demand, specifically in STEM subjects like Science and Maths. Nationally, the Department of Education has reported workforce shortages in teaching. This means that for recent graduates and those interested in studying education at university career prospects are good.  


At Northumbria University support for your career doesn’t stop when you graduate. Northumbria offers apprenticeships and continued professional development programmes for practising Social Workers, Teachers and other professionals.   




What course options are there to study Social Work and Education? 


Social Work Study Options 

Most Social Work degrees are three-year-long Bachelor of Arts, with a good mix of theory and practical learning. You’ll blend elements of sociology and psychology and other core subjects. You’ll develop your interpersonal and communication skills, learning how to deal with difficult situations with compassion, empathy, and care. When you study Social Work, you’ll complete essays and assignments, but you’ll also develop report-writing skills and engage with practical writing.  

Education Study Options

Teaching and Education degrees will have a strong focus on teaching and learning theories and philosophies. Lectures and seminars will likely cover topics like planning and goal setting, report writing, meeting children's needs and developmental psychology. You’ll learn the fundamentals of teaching and how to apply them to the diverse and fast-paced classroom setting where you’ll spend a lot of your training.   

Postgraduate Education and Social Work Study Options 

If you study for a Masters in Social Work and Education degree you’ll find that there are more options to diversify your studies. Subject areas that you can develop when doing a Masters in Social Work and Education degree include:   

  • Policy and education 
  • Gender and Sexuality 
  • Media and Society 
  • Inclusive Education Practice 
  • Leadership and Management  
  • Poverty, Class, and Inequality    

Education and Social Work Placement Opportunities 

Many Social Work degrees include a placement year or short-term placements throughout. Social Work placements will give you hands-on experience of the theory you’ve learned, you’ll be supported by mentors and colleagues guiding your practice and your progress will be monitored with regular touchpoints with your university staff too.  

Placements offer opportunities to develop the skills needed to communicate with service users in real life, you will:  

  • Develop relationships in the community. 
  • Provide care alongside qualified social workers and other practitioners. 
  • Integrate theory and practice within an organisation or agency 

Many universities partner with local councils, the NHS or private care services.  

Like Social Work, Education and Teaching courses have a very practical focus and include placements. Most qualifying degrees require you to spend about 14 hours a week in the classroom, you will:  

  • Shadow qualified teachers 
  • Lead classrooms 
  • Develop your teaching experience  

All this with the support and guidance of your placement school and university. It’s likely that you’ll complete a number of placements throughout your degree, this gives you the opportunity to try different types of schools and find your own teaching style. Teaching placements help you build good relationships with local schools and teachers, this can be a real benefit when you’re looking for work in the sector.  

Ready to find out about Social Work courses and Education courses? Check out what’s on offer at Northumbria University.  




What jobs can I do with a Social Work and Education degree? 


Because of the vocational element of Social Work and Education courses and the strong links with placement and industry most social work graduates will go on to become qualified social workers or qualified teachers. 


Beyond that popular career destinations for Social Work and Education graduates include:  


  • Child welfare caseworker  
  • School counsellor  
  • Family services case manager  
  • Mental health counsellor  
  • Hospice social worker  
  • Substance abuse counsellor 

There are also job roles related to education that aren’t specifically teaching:  


  • Education consultant 
  • Education mental health practitioner 
  • English as a foreign language teacher 
  • Further education teacher 
  • Learning mentor 

These are just some of the most popular jobs. But because the skills you’ll develop as part of your degree you’ll find that there are many options for meaningful careers when you complete a social work course. 


Learn more about the ways Northumbria University is training the next generation of frontline workers in the sector.  




Why choose Northumbria University for Social Work and Education? 


Social Work and Education at Northumbria University offers a concentrated focus on high-quality professional education, research, and innovation across multiple disciplines. Specialising in social work, social care, public health, occupational therapy, childhood, early years, and education Northumbria University works to challenge inequalities and champion social justice.  


Northumbria has strong links with organisations and agencies from the private, statutory and third sectors and if you choose to study social work at Northumbria University you will gain real-world experience of both cutting-edge practice and research.


Find out more about The Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing at Northumbria University.  



As a Northumbria University student, you’ll have access to all the state-of-the-art facilities you’d expect at a top university; access to all the literature you need via the library or online collections, comfortable lecture theatres and tutorial rooms, study spaces to suit group work, individual and collaborative study as well as technology like PCs and laptops. When you study social work and education, you’ll also access the Coach Lane campus which houses industry-standard facilities and equipment related to education and social care.  

Find out more and take a virtual tour of our Coach Lane campus facilities.  

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Coach Lane Campus

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We’re proud of our reputation and our league tables speak for themselves. 

The Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing at Northumbria University ranked top 20 nationally for our education programmes (Complete University Guide 2023),  

Social Work at Northumbria ranked 30th for Social Work in the UK (Guardian University League Table 2022). 

Research Excellence 

Research at Northumbria University in The Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing is diverse, intersecting across many academic and professional disciplines and wider sectors of society. Broadly speaking, our research is guided by principles of social justice.  

Research feeds teaching practice at Northumbria, and if you study Social Work you’ll be on the forefront of research in the field. This means that your training will be grounded in current, relevant research, future-proofing your degree.  

Northumbria University is ranked 3rd in the UK for research power in Social Work and Social Policy, with 78% of our research activity rated as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, we’re proud of our research strengths.  

Learn more about our ambitious research goals and real world impact.  

Is Social Work like nursing?

Nursing and Social Work both call for a lot of similar skills, both degrees will train you to be an effective caregiver. But, where nursing is a medical profession, Social Work might be considered a social profession.

When you study Social Work, you’ll learn to offer support through your words, actions and knowledge about policy and resources rather than medical care. 

Will I need to interview to study Social Work? 

Many universities do require an interview as part of the admission process. Social Work is a demanding degree and requires integrity, ethics, emotional resilience, and commitment to helping others. The interview process helps universities determine whether or not your character meets the demands of the degree.

You can expect questions about your intentions about becoming a social worker, what you hope to achieve and why you’ve chosen the field. You may also be asked to talk about cultural and societal context affecting the field at the time of your interview and what impact you think this context has on the communities you will support.  

Why do I need to choose the age range of the children I want to teach? 

Most teaching qualifications are split into Early Years, Primary Education and Secondary Education.

Put simply, the learning outcomes for children at these different life stages require different strategies and practice. Specialist courses in early years education will likely be more focused on developmental milestones like speech and language. Primary education courses might focus more on grasping the basic skills and foundations of learning, reading, writing and numeracy. Secondary education tends to focus more on developing knowledge and skills in specific areas, secondary educators will also have more focus on preparing young people for life after school in work or further education. 

Please Note

All content is accurate as of the time of writing, the information in this guide is subject to change and will be updated as required to reflect this.

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