Bachelor of Social Work

Martin cox


This highly regarded interdisciplinary degree will engage you in both theory and practice, equipping you for a wide range of people-related work.

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) at UC is New Zealand’s most established Social Work programme. The BSW is ideal for those with a commitment to working with others in overcoming personal and institutional barriers to well-being and promoting the full potential of people.

Features of the Bachelor of Social Work at UC

  • Recognised by the Social Workers' Registration Board
  • Internationally recognised qualification
  • The BSW has a strong practical component, leading up to 75% fieldwork in your fourth and final year
  • Field placements see students working within social service agencies and the community
  • May be awarded with honours.

Entry requirements

Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. Domestic applicants over 20 who do not hold University Entrance, or equivalent, may gain admission by providing evidence of their ability to complete tertiary study successfully. For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Recommended preparation

Entry to the first year of the BSW is open to all students with entry to the University. While no particular school subjects are required, a background in subjects promoting communication skills such as English, history, geography or te reo Māori is useful. Volunteer work in the community is also good preparation.

Qualification structure and duration

The BSW requires a total of 480 points:

BSW elective streams

Social Work students choose an elective stream that suits their academic interests and career objectives. In addition to Social Work, this allows you to specialise in another subject area, selected from:

See the degree diagram on this page and elective stream breakdown under 'Subjects and courses' below, for information on what this would look like in your first and second years.

Third year and beyond

Entry to Social Work courses at 300-level and above is competitive. Completed courses at 100 and 200-level can be credited to a Bachelor of Arts with a major in your elective stream subject if you are unable to, or choose not to, continue with a BSW.

In your fourth year, 75% of your work will be in the field, allowing you to put into practice the knowledge and skills you have gained. 

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work.

Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Social Work

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
    Compulsory courses
    Course choice based on elective stream (Human Services, Sociology, Psychology, or Māori and Indigenous Studies/Te Reo Māori)*.
Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points (or more).
* See the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work for elective stream course requirements.

Subjects and courses

BSW elective streams

100-level electives

200-level electives

Stream 1 – Human Services PSYC 105 or PSYC 106
(15 points)
30 more points in PSYC 
and/or SOCI
30 points in HSRV
Stream 2 – Sociology PSYC 105 or PSYC 106 
(15 points)
SOCI 111 and SOCI 112
(30 points)
30 points in SOCI
Stream 3 – Psychology PSYC 105 and PSYC 106 
(15 points)
SOCI 111 or SOCI 112
(30 points)
PSYC 206 and 15 more points
Stream 4 – Māori and Indigenous
Studies/Te Reo Māori
PSYC 105 or PSYC 106 
(15 points)
SOCI 111 and SOCI 112
(30 points)
30 points in MAOR and TREO

Note: Prerequisites, restrictions and limitations may apply as shown in the 
Bachelor of Arts Regulations Schedule.

Further study

Postgraduate qualifications

Career opportunities

Students develop a strong academic and practice foundation in the social sciences and social work at UC, which prepares them to be social workers, policy analysts and researchers in both statutory and non-government sectors.

Graduates are highly employable overseas, particularly in the UK and Australia.

Social Work graduates are employed in a wide variety of fields including family welfare, child protection, justice, education, community development, and all areas of health and well-being. 

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Social Work.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work. For information on resources, facilities and staff, visit the College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata.

For more information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students), or a College of Arts Student Advisor (advancing students).

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Martin cox

Martin Cox

'I’ve developed good self-discipline principles and research methods.'

Lisa Mora

Lisa Mora

'I plan to continue to advocate for the right of people to speak for themselves...'