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Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

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Apply for the Social Work Pre-professional (BA) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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The Social Work programme at the University of Otago offers two main qualifications designed for different career stages of professional social workers:

  • The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is designed for students wishing to obtain a first qualification in Social Work that qualifies them to apply for registration as social workers in New Zealand.
  • The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is designed for mid-career social workers who are already registered but wish to undertake further professional development in a more focused area of professional practice.

Entry into the BSW programme via one of two pathways:

  1. Students can undertake a four-year undergraduate programme by first enrolling as Social Work Pre-professional students (under the BA programme) and then applying for entry into the third-year stage of the BSW programme (the Social Work Pre-professional years count as the first two years of a four-year BSW programme).
  2. If students have already completed another bachelor’s degree majoring in a relevant subject such as Psychology or Sociology (other options may be suitable), they can apply for admission directly into the third-year stage of the BSW programme.

For more information about Social and Community Work:

Social and Community Work programme

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Programme requirements

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)

















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








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







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.

Regulations for the Degree of Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

  1. Admission to the Programme

    1. Admission to the programme shall be determined by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) on the advice of the Social Work Admissions Committee.
    2. To be admitted to the programme at the Third Stage, an applicant must have passed papers worth 234 points from the First and Second Stages as specified in the schedule of papers for the degree, or have completed the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Science (majoring in Psychology), or Bachelor of Education Studies, or have completed a degree at another tertiary education institution (in the same, or similar, subject areas) and have taken an approved course in Maori language and tikanga.
    3. Candidates will be selected on the basis of their academic record, personal suitability and proven experience in the social services. The Social Work Admissions Committee must be satisfied that applicants meet the requirements of the Social Work Registration Act 2003.
    4. All applicants whose primary language is not English, Māori or New Zealand Sign Language must demonstrate either:
      1. an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 7.0 in the academic band (with no band score lower than 7.0), or
      2. a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Internet-based test (iBT) score of 95 or higher with a writing score of 22.

      These tests must have been completed in one sitting within the previous two years, and evidence must be provided by way of certified results.

    Note: Admission to and enrolment in the programme are subject to safety checking of students for suitability to work with children, as required under the Children's Act 2014.

  2. Structure of the Programme

    1. Every programme shall consist of papers worth not less than 480 points, as prescribed in the programme requirements above.
    2. The Head of the Social and Community Work Programme may approve variations from the normal sequence of papers.

  3. Prerequisites, Corequisites and Restrictions

    Every programme of study shall satisfy the requirements for prerequisites, corequisites and restrictions set out in the Prescriptions (published in the Guide to Enrolment).

  4. Duration of the Programme

    A candidate shall follow a programme of study for not less than four years of full-time study, or the equivalent in part-time study.

  5. Cross Credits

    A candidate who is enrolled for the degree of Bachelor of Social Work concurrently with another degree, or who has completed one of the two degrees and is proceeding with the other, may cross credit 100- and 200-levels papers which are common to both degrees up to a maximum of 180 points.

  6. Withdrawal from the Programme

    1. A student who withdraws from the programme and wishes to be readmitted at a later date shall be required to reapply for entry under the normal application process.
    2. A student who has been admitted to the programme but does not complete any papers for three consecutive years shall be deemed to have withdrawn.

  7. Review and Exclusion from the Programme

    1. A student's place in the programme may be reviewed at any time if the student has:
      1. failed a fieldwork placement or the prerequisite SOWK 320;
      2. failed any of the other compulsory papers of the programme at a second attempt;
      3. not been placed in a fieldwork placement due to concerns relating to competency or suitability raised by at least three different fieldwork organisations;
      4. committed a criminal offence (whether or not a conviction has been entered);
      5. engaged in unethical conduct;
      6. significant and ongoing physical or mental health difficulties that may prevent them from being able to demonstrate competence in practice settings;
      7. failed to declare a matter covered by (iv)-(vi).
    2. The processes for a review shall be those contained in the Division of Humanities' Procedure for Reviewing a Student's Place in the Social Work Programme. After the review process a student may:
      1. have mandated tasks to complete;
      2. be excluded from the programme for a period of time; or
      3. be permanently excluded from the programme by the Divisional Board of the Division of Humanities on the recommendation of the Social and Community Work programme.

  8. Variations

    The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) may in exceptional circumstances approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

    1. Student numbers may be limited by the capacity of the social services to provide opportunities for fieldwork placements.
    2. The due date for applications for enrolment in the Third Stage in the BSW programme is 1 November in the year before admission to the Third Stage.
    3. Applicants with appropriate previous qualifications or prior learning and experience may be eligible for ad eundem credit or RPL (recognition of prior learning) credit towards the programme.

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