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Study Social Work at Otago

People, diversity, community – mana tangata.

Human troubles are endemic in today’s societies. Many people in our world struggle with social and personal problems caused by complex, interacting systems and forces. A social work education prepares you to respond to these problems thoughtfully, creatively and practically. You will be asked to look beyond the individual to the systems impacting upon them.

If you are concerned with issues of justice and desire pragmatic, hands-on responses to human needs and suffering, then social work is for you. A social work education will prepare you for learning and engagement beyond the walls of academia.

Apply for the Social Work Pre-professional (BA) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

Apply Now

Apply for the Social Work Pre-professional (BA) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

Apply Now

Apply for the Master of Social Work (MSW) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

Apply Now

Why study Social Work?

People who are interested in helping others and their community will be drawn to studying social work. The purpose of social work is to enable people to develop their potential, promote their human rights and pursue social justice. Professional social work focuses on problem solving and change. Social workers  are change agents in the lives of individuals, families and communities, as people’s problems are often related to factors in all these domains.

Social work ranges from direct work with individuals, working with organisations to become more responsive to people’s needs, right through to the development of social policy and legislation. The various roles include counselling, clinical social work, family therapy, helping people obtain services and resources, agency administration, community work, social policy, and political organising.

Background required

No specialist knowledge is required, but an interest in working with people is important. Subjects to take at school include English, Māori, and other social science subjects. To go on to the professional programmes some experience with a social service organisation such as the Buddy Programme, Youthline, Women’s Refuge, IHC, or similar is needed.

Career opportunities

Job opportunities arise in both policy and  practice in a range of human services in education, health, welfare and justice sectors. These include government social service agencies, voluntary, and community agencies. Graduates work as health workers, social workers, teachers, probation officers, counsellors, advocates, community workers, policy advisers and analysts, and researchers.

Students are encouraged to tailor courses to their career aspirations by combining social work courses with other subjects to open up new fields of opportunity such as:

  • Community development
  • Cultural services
  • Correctional services and Police
  • Health services
  • Individual care and counselling
  • Law
  • Māori and Iwi development
  • Management
  • Policy advice and development
  • Political studies
  • Treaty-based services

The Social and Community Work programme at Otago Otago’s involvement in social work and community development began in 1978. The programme has grown from a work-based certificate into full undergraduate degrees through to postgraduate, master’s, and PhD qualifications.

Our professional qualifications are recognised by the Social Workers Registration Board for social work registration (Social Workers Registration Act 2003). Our qualifications are also approved by the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers.

A distinctive element of our majors is the attention to intervention skills and methods, which lead to a versatile career path, particularly when taken with other social science disciplines. The combination of many different academic subjects and ‘hands on’ skills and methods provides many career opportunities.

Study pathways

Our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is a four-year degree and students apply for entry at the end of year two (200-level). Otago also provides a distance-taught option of the BSW at third- and fourth-year level for students who already have a relevant BA (e.g. in Psychology, Sociology, or Education). We also offer a ‘taught master’s’ that can be completed after a relevant first degree (e.g. in Psychology, Sociology, or Education). This Master in Social and Community Work (Applied) degree enables you to be a fully registered Social Worker, as it includes papers and fieldwork placements. It is taught alongside the BSW. In addition to these degree programmes, Otago offers a full range of postgraduate research courses to PhD level.

Your first year of study

Introductory papers outline the models and concepts of the social sciences. These are applied to the social and human services in the New Zealand context from a Treaty-based perspective, and a study of selected fields of social service practice. Students who want to go into social work must also take some sociology papers, Māori papers and one human development paper (see website).

Continuing your studies

Second-year level papers cover a range of the sociological bases of social work as well as covering the various fields of practice and ethical basis of social work. Finally, advanced papers focus on the theories and methods of actually achieving change across individual, family, organisational and community levels.

At third- and fourth-year level, students will have the opportunity to practice their skills in supervised fieldwork settings.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Social Work Pre-professional (BA)

Level Papers Points
1st stage

First Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 111  Working with People: The New Zealand Context

SOCI 101  Sociology of New Zealand Society

MAOR 102  Māori Society

MAOR 110  Introduction to Conversational Māori

EDUC 102  Human Development

or

PSYC 112  Human Thought and Behaviour

 

18

18

18

18

18

2nd stage

Second Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 201  Fields of Practice

SOWK 236  The Treaty and Social Services

SOCI 201  Sociological Research in Practice

SOCI 205  Social Inequality

SOCI 207  Families and Society

and either

SOCI203  Young People and Society  or  CRIM 201  Crime, Justice and Society

 

18

18

18

18

18

 

18

First and Second Stage Elective Papers

Additional approved papers from Arts and Music Schedule C to make a total of at least 234 points (normally 13 papers)

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Level Papers Points
1st and 2nd stages

First Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 111  Working with People: The New Zealand Context

SOCI 101  Sociology of New Zealand Society

MAOR 102  Māori Society

MAOR 110  Introduction to Conversational Māori

and 18 points from either

EDUC 102  Human Development 
or  PSYC 112  Human Thought and Behaviour

Second Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 201  Fields of Practice

SOWK 236  The Treaty and Social Services

SOCI 201  Sociological Research in Practice

SOCI 205  Social Inequality

SOCI 207  Families and Society

First and Second Stage Elective Papers

Additional papers to make a total of at least 234 points (normally 13 papers)

 

18

18

18

18

18

 

 

 

18

18

18

18

18

 

234

3rd stage

Third Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 301  Theories and Methods of Social Work

SOWK 302  Social Work for Children and Families - Analysis and Theory

SOWK 303  Communities and Organisations - Analysis and Theory

SOWK 304  Kaupapa Māori, and Indigenous Approaches to Social Work

SOWK 320  Introduction to Professional Practice

SOWK 392  Fieldwork Practice 1

 

18

18

18

18

18

36

4th stage

Fourth Stage Compulsory Papers

SOWK 402  Social Work for Children and Families: Advanced Practice

SOWK 403  Communities and Organisations - Advanced Practice

SOWK 480  Research Project

SOWK 492  Fieldwork Practice 2

Plus one of SOWK 405 Social Work Issues Across the Lifespan, SOWK 406 Social Problems: Policies and Practice Models, or any other 400-level SOWK paper

 

20

20

20

40

20

Note: (1) For information on prerequisites, corequisites and restrictions, refer to the Prescriptions in the Guide to Enrolment.
(2) Prospective BSW students should initially enrol for the Social Work Pre-professional (BA) programme.

Bachelor of Social Work with Honours (BSW(Hons))

Papers

A candidate admitted to an Honours programme shall complete the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Social Work except that the final year’s course must comprise:

  • SOWK 402 Social Work for Children and Families: Advanced Practice
  • SOWK 403 Communities and Organisations - Advanced Practice
  • SOWK 490 Dissertation
  • SOWK 492 Fieldwork Practice 2

Postgraduate Diploma in Social Welfare (PGDipSW)

Papers

The programme shall consist of approved papers from the schedule of papers available for the degree of Master of Social Work to the value of 120 points.

With prior approval, one paper at 400-level or above in a related subject offered by the University or another tertiary institution up to the value of 30 points may be included in the programme.

Master of Social and Community Work (Applied) (MSCW(Applied))

Papers Points

Year 1

SOWK 551  Theories and Methods of Social Work
SOWK 552  Child and Family Social Work
SOWK 553  Communities and Organisations – Analysis and Theory
SOWK 554  Kaupapa Māori and Indigenous Approaches to Social Work
SOWK 570  Introduction to Professional Practice
SOWK 592  Fieldwork Practice 1

 

20
20
20
20
20
25

Year 2

SOWK 562  Micro Intervention: Theories and Skills
SOWK 563  Communities and Organisations – Advanced Practice
SOWK 580  Research Project
SOWK 593  Fieldwork Practice 2

 

20
20
20
25

Plus one of the following papers:
SOWK 504  Care and Protection
SOWK 505  Lifespan Issues – Advanced Practice with Older Adults
SOWK 508  Pasifika and Social Services
SOWK 509  Decision-making in Child Welfare
SOWK 510  Advanced Social Service Counselling
SOWK 511  Advanced Family Practice
SOWK 515  Iwi Social Services I – Contextual Issues
SOWK 517  Social Policy Development
SOWK 521  Advanced Special Topic: Contemporary Pacific Issues and the Social Services
SOWK 523  Animals and Social Work

30

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Papers and Thesis Points

Four of:
SOWK 504  Care and Protection
SOWK 505  Lifespan Issues - Advanced Practice with Older Adults
SOWK 508  Pasifika and Social Services
SOWK 509  Decision-making in Child Welfare
SOWK 510  Advanced Social Service Counselling
SOWK 511  Advanced Family Practice
SOWK 512  Working with Children and Adolescents
SOWK 513  Mental Health and Specialist Practice
SOWK 514  Advanced Community Development
SOWK 515  Iwi Social Services I - Contextual Issues
SOWK 516  Iwi Social Services II - Development and Facilitation
SOWK 517  Social Policy Development
SOWK 518  Social Services Supervision
SOWK 519  Social Services Management
SOWK 520  Social Services Research and Evaluation
SOWK 521  Advanced Studies Special Topic
SOWK 522  Advanced Studies Special Topic
SOWK 523  Animals and Social Work

Research Component
Thesis: SOWK 6

 
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30

 

Papers

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
SOWK111 2021 Working with People: The New Zealand Context 18 points First Semester
SOWK201 2021 Fields of Practice 18 points Second Semester
SOWK236 2021 The Treaty and Social Services 18 points First Semester
SOWK301 2021 Theories and Methods of Social Work 18 points First Semester
SOWK302 2021 Social Work for Children and Families - Analysis and Theory 18 points First Semester
SOWK303 2021 Communities and Organisations - Analysis and Theory 18 points First Semester
SOWK304 2021 Kaupapa Māori, and Indigenous Approaches to Social Work 18 points Second Semester
SOWK320 2021 Introduction to Professional Practice 18 points First Semester
SOWK392 2021 Fieldwork Practice 1 36 points Second Semester
SOWK402 2021 Micro Intervention: Theories and Skills 20 points First Semester
SOWK403 2021 Communities and Organisations - Advanced Practice 20 points First Semester
SOWK404 2021 Care and Protection 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK405 2021 Social Work Issues Across the Lifespan 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK406 2021 Social Problems: Policies and Practice Models 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK407 2021 Kaupapa Māori and Social Work Practice 20 points First Semester
SOWK408 2021 Pasifika and Social Services 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK409 2021 Decision-making in Child Welfare 20 points First Semester
SOWK410 2021 Special Topic 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK411 2021 Advanced Special Topic 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK423 2021 Animals and Social Work 20 points Second Semester
SOWK480 2021 Research Project 20 points First Semester, Full Year
SOWK490 2021 Dissertation 40 points Full Year
SOWK492 2021 Fieldwork Practice 2 40 points First Semester, Second Semester
SOWK504 2021 Care and Protection 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK505 2021 Lifespan Issues - Advanced Practice with Older Adults 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK508 2021 Pasifika and Social Services 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK509 2021 Decision-making in Child Welfare 30 points First Semester
SOWK510 2021 Advanced Social Service Counselling 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK511 2021 Advanced Family Practice 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022
SOWK514 2021 Advanced Community Development Practice 30 points Second Semester
SOWK515 2021 Iwi Social Services I - Contextual Issues 30 points First Semester
SOWK517 2021 Social Policy Development 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK520 2021 Social Services Research and Evaluation 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK521 2021 Advanced Special Topic 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK522 2021 Advanced Studies Special Topic 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SOWK523 2021 Animals and Social Work 30 points Second Semester
SOWK551 2021 Theories and Methods of Social Work 20 points First Semester
SOWK552 2021 Child and Family Social Work 20 points First Semester
SOWK553 2021 Communities and Organisation - Analysis and Theory 20 points First Semester
SOWK554 2021 Kaupapa Māori and Indigenous Approaches to Social Work 20 points Second Semester
SOWK562 2021 Micro Intervention - Theories and Skills 20 points First Semester
SOWK563 2021 Communities and Organisations - Advanced Practice 20 points First Semester
SOWK570 2021 Introduction to Professional Practice 20 points First Semester
SOWK580 2021 Research Project 20 points Full Year
SOWK592 2021 Fieldwork Practice 1 25 points Second Semester
SOWK593 2021 Fieldwork Practice 2 25 points First Semester, Second Semester
SOWK680 2021 Research Project 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024

Key information for students

Contact us

Social and Community Work Programme

Email sgsw@otago.ac.nz
Website otago.ac.nz/social-community-work