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FAQs about the Social Work programmes

Q What do you mean by 3rd year and 4th year of the programme?

•    3rd year is the equivalent of doing your 300 level papers
•    4th year is the equivalent of doing your 400 level papers

Q Are the Social Work degrees offered by distance learning?

Yes – the 3rd and 4th years of the BSW, and the whole Masters of Social and Community Work (Applied) are offered by distance.

Q Where can I find the list of required papers for the social work programmes?

On the website

Q I want to do a Bachelor of Social Work, what programme do I enrol in in my first year?

Select the Social Work Pre-professional (BA) – this is what the first two years of the programme are called, before you apply for admission to years three and four of the BSW.

Q If I don't have all the prerequisites, can I still apply for 3rd year?

  • If you have ONE outstanding paper, yes, but you must have a plan for how you can complete it, for example, by taking MAOR110 at summer school, or taking an additional paper in semester one of your third year
  • If you have TWO outstanding papers, and can take one in summer school before the programme starts, that’s fine too
  • Be aware that taking an extra paper is a large workload in year three
  • If you have three or more papers to complete, wait until the following year to apply

Q Can I substitute other papers for any of the required papers?

Yes – any research methods paper in the social sciences can count for SOCI201, and EDUC254 can count for SOCI207. Others can be discussed with a course adviser.

Q I have some papers from another tertiary education provider – can I cross credit these, and how do I do it?

Yes. Papers can be cross credited, as long as they are at Level 5 or higher on the NZQA framework, cover the required content, and have not been used towards another completed qualification. These can be credited point for point. Discuss this with a Humanities course advisor, and you will be invited to upload relevant documents when you enrol. The Programme course advisor, and the Humanities course advisor make decisions about content relevance. 

Q Once I am in the programme, what happens if I fail one of the first semester papers (SOWK 301, 302, 303, 320 or SOWK 551, 552, 553, 570)?

If you fail any of these papers, you will be unable to go on your fieldwork placement, or continue with the core 4th year papers. This means your course of study will change. Seek course advice to construct a new pathway for completion.

Q I want to take social work when I finish school – what subjects should I take for NCEA?

Arts subjects like English, Geography, History, Māori Studies, Sociology, Classics.

Q Can I begin the 3rd year compulsory papers before being admitted into the BSW programme?

No. In some exceptional circumstances, such as being an international student, this is possible, but generally no.

Q I’ve completed some Māori and human development related papers at other institutions.  How do I know that they will be acceptable for entry into the BSW?

These are generally acceptable as long as they are at level 5 or higher on the NZQA framework.

Q I’ve completed my 1st and 2nd year papers, what else do I need to do before I apply?

In addition to papers and points, further criteria include relevant experience and suitability. Ensure you have at least some voluntary social service or related experience before applying for the programme. You will be able to see the selection guidelines in eVision once you start applying.

Q Do I need a full driver’s licence before I start the course to be accepted onto the course?

No, but you will need a full license before first placement which begins around June of the first year.

Q What are the reasons I could have my place reviewed or end up being excluded from the programme?

  • If you have committed a criminal offence (whether or not a conviction has been entered), engaged in behaviour that may prevent you from being found ‘fit and proper’ (including unsafe practice, dishonesty, or any other unethical behaviour), have failed a Vulnerable Children’s Act safety check process.
  • It may also be reviewed if you have failed a fieldwork placement, or the fieldwork precursor paper, SOWK320; have failed any of the other compulsory papers of the programme at a second attempt; are unable to be placed in a fieldwork placement due to concerns raised by three different fieldwork agencies; or have mental or physical health issues capable of significantly impacting on your capacity to study and/or practice. For the full review and exclusion policy, consult the regulations and programme procedure.

Q If I am doing the double degree pathway, how many points can I get cross credited from my first degree?

If you are enrolled in the BSW concurrently with another degree (usually in a subject that provides good companion information to social work), or have completed one of the two degrees and are 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. Seek course advice if you are unsure.

Q I’ve completed a relevant bachelor’s qualification at a Polytechnic.  How many points does that count towards entry into the BSW programme?

This is the same as any other degree, as long as it begins at level 5 or higher on the NZQA framework, see above.

Q Where do I go for to get my qualification assessed for cross-credits?

When you enrol, you will be asked to upload your documents showing previous qualifications. They are assessed then.

Q I understand I get 180 points from my first qualification if I’m doing the double degree pathway.  How do I make up the extra 54 points?

By taking extra papers, either during your first degree, or afterwards. You will need three extra papers to make this up to 254 points in total. Choose papers that fill in the content gaps in your first qualification. The compulsory areas to cover are: NZ sociology, Māori culture/Treaty of Waitangi, Māori language, research methods and human development.  For example, if your degree covers Human development and research methods, then your three extra papers will be a NZ sociology paper, and two Māori papers. One paper in each of these areas is sufficient.

Q Do I have to have completed all three extra papers before I apply?

No – see above. 

Q I have covered all these content areas in my degree. What should I take to make up the 254 points?

An introductory social work paper plus any other Humanities’ papers.

Q What are the entry requirements for the MSCW(Applied)?

  • The requirements are that you have a B average in the major third year papers of your first degree.
  • The first degree must be in an area considered to be suitable as background for postgraduate study in social work.
  • Info page

Q What are the content knowledge areas I must have in addition to a relevant degree?

Māori culture/history, Introductory Māori language, research methods, understanding NZ society and human development. Otago papers we recommend to cover these are:

  • SOCI101 or 103 (NZ society)
  • MAOR102 or SOWK234 (Māori culture/history)
  • MAOR110 (Māori language
  • PSYC112 OR EDUC102 (development)
  • SOCI201 (research methods)
  • MAOR120 can be taken to cover both MAOR102 and MAOR110
  • Other similar papers can be substituted

Q I have a BA in Psychology from Otago. What extra papers do I need to complete to be eligible for application to the MSCW(Applied)?

  • You will already have met the human development and research methods requirements
  • You will also need a sociology or other paper covering NZ society, Māori culture and Māori language papers as above

Q Where can I take extra papers if I don't live in Dunedin and plan to study the MSCW(Applied) by distance learning?

Other tertiary distance providers can be used to complete content requirements. Providers such as Massey University, Open Polytechnic, or Te Wananga o Aotearoa all offer acceptable courses at level 5 on the NZQA framework or higher.

Q Can I get a student allowance while studying the MSCW(Applied)?

No, currently postgraduate qualifications are not eligible.

Q If I study by distance, what are the face to face attendance requirements?

There are 20 days of workshops spread across the two years of the programme that you will have to attend at Otago. There is a week at the start of semester one in years three and four (one and two of the MSCW(Applied))), and a week at the end of semester one in year four (year two of the MSCW(Applied))). The remainder are spread throughout the two years. 

Q Are the workshops compulsory?  I find it difficult to get time off work to attend.

Workshop attendance is compulsory, as face to face teaching is a requirement of accreditation by the Social Worker’s Registration Board. In light of this, negotiate with your employer early to ensure you can attend. If there are other exceptional circumstances, contact the course coordinator to discuss.