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Study undergraduate Social Work

The Social Work Programme

Bachelor of Social Work - BSW

There are two ways in which you can enter the professional social work undergraduate programme at this University:

  • Pathway 1 Social Work Pre-Professional (BA):

    You can enrol to take two years of 'pre-professional' papers at 100 and 200-level and then apply for entry into 'professional' social work and complete 300 and 400-level. If you take this pathway, you will graduate with a BSW degree after 4 years. When you enrol through the eVision portal, select 'social work pre-professional (BA)' as your programme of study.

  • Pathway 2 Second Degree:

    If you have already completed a degree in another discipline (usually in a subject that provides good companion information to social work) you can cross credit up to 180 points towards your BSW, and complete your BSW in two and a half years of full time study (years three and four plus extra points and content requirements). If you have extra points from your first degree and have covered all content requirements, it may be possible to complete your BSW in two years.  See below for application information.

Admission to 100-level study in the social work pre-professional programme can be done through the university's eVision portal. If you are a new student or a returning student applying for the social work pre-professional (BA) for the first time at the University of Otago, you need to apply by 10 December in the year before your proposed study.  The due date for returning students continuing in the same programme is 15 January.

Admission to full professional social work at 300-level in the BSW requires a formal selection process which checks your academic achievements, suitability, and requires police checks and referees reports. Safety checking, as required by the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, will also be completed (further information).  The application process takes time, and you need to apply through eVision in the year before you want to enter professional social work at 300-level. To give the admission committee enough time to consider this material the eVision portal opens for applications for professional social work on 1 August and closes on 1 November. We strongly advise commencing the process of enrolling through eVision as early as possible.

The Social Work programmes (BSW and MSCW (App)) have English language standards as follows:
All students who do not have English, Māori or New Zealand sign language as their primary language demonstrate either:
(a) IELTS academic score of 6.5 academic no band score lower than 6.5, or
(b) TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) score of 85 or higher with a writing score of 22.
These tests must have been completed in one sitting within the previous 2 years.

Application information for Bachelor of Social Work


The programme shall consist of papers worth not less than a total of 480 points.

1st Stage compulsory papers:

SOWK 111, SOCI 101, MAOR 102, MAOR 110, EDUC 102 or PSYC 112

2nd Stage compulsory papers:

SOWK 201,  SOWK 236, SOCI 201, SOCI 205, SOCI 207

3rd Stage compulsory papers:

SOWK 301, SOWK 302, SOWK 303, SOWK 304, SOWK 320, SOWK 392

4th Stage compulsory papers:

SOWK 402, SOWK 403, SOWK 480, SOWK 492; plus any one of the optional 400-level SOWK papers

  • Distance learning options are available at 300 and 400 level of study.
  • Full or part time study options are available.

Bachelor of Social Work with Honours - BSW(Hons)

A Bachelor of Social Work with Honours (BSW(Hons)) degree is also offered. Entry is by invitation only. The first three years of the programme are as for the BSW degree but the final year's course comprises SOWK 402, 403, 490 and 492. 

Further information can be obtained from

Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB)

The SWRB will provide the department with application packs near the completion of your degree to enable you to apply to the SWRB for registration with graduate competence. These packs will generally be distributed at your final workshop.  If your application is successful the SWRB recognises your beginning practitioner competence as assessed by the University.  For all students who complete their qualification in S2 this competence will be current for around two years.  

If you apply for registration you still need to provide certified evidence that you have completed the qualification: a certified copy of your recognised qualification, a certified copy of your official academic transcript, a certified copy of any prior learning components of your qualification.

Social Workers Registration Board (A link to the SWRB website for further information.)