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Staff Room

BSc Social Work University of Bath

Mark Baldwin, Senior Lecturer and Admissions Tutor,  talks about his work.

What do you like most about your subject?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and I love most aspects of my job. Teaching and tutoring students, and being a part of so many people’s learning is a delight. For many of our students, coming from non-traditional backgrounds, or doing vocational rather than academic courses (such as national diplomas) to get here, it is a great achievement to get a degree and a professional qualification. It changes people’s lives.

I also do research and writing about it. I am really interested in social work and the difference that it can make to people’s lives, and finding out what can make it better is an important and rewarding process. I have, for instance, recently been looking at how social workers can increase the number of direct payments to people with learning difficulties, helping those service users take more control of their lives. I use what I learn from my research in my teaching.

What kinds of jobs do graduates from Social Policy Sciences at Bath go on to do?

For the Social Work degree, which is the only route into professional practice, the field is wide open. Local authorities still employ the most social workers, for instance in children and families’ teams, doing child protection, dealing with young people in care, adoption and fostering. For adults (older people, disabled people and in mental health) social workers are also employed by local authorities.

Youth Offending is another statutory area for social work employment. In the voluntary sector social workers are employed in a range of settings: homelessness, addictions work, children and families, older people, disability and more generally in community development. There is a huge range of interesting and exciting jobs. .

What advice would you give to a student considering making an application to the department?

Go and get some experience, either by doing voluntary work, or paid care work. Also, make sure you read around the subject – read some of the social work textbooks and try and make the connections between what they say about professional social work and your role in your voluntary or paid care work.

It’s a great idea to talk to people already working as social workers.

I also agree with the points which Dr Tina Skinner made in her interview about ensuring you find out about the content of the degree course from the website, attend a university open day and check your predicted grades against what’s required for the course.

What kind of information are you interested in when looking at personal statements?

I’m always interested in reading about how an applicant’s work experience has encouraged them to consider studying social work. Your personal reflections on your experiences, and how they relate to the degree course content, are what’s interesting (rather than a description of what you did).

You could also refer to units in your college course which you’ve particularly enjoyed and how they relate to the content of the degree.

Is there anything in particular which applicants currently on national diploma courses should bear in mind when making an application?
Everything which Tina said in response to this question is also relevant to the social work course! (see below)
The Department of Social and Policy Sciences really encourages you to apply!
Make sure you check the GCSE requirement for the course you are planning to apply for (in particular grade C or above or level 2 equivalent in Maths and English).
When deciding which course might be best for you, it’s worth checking the assessment methods used – some universities may assess their social policy courses 100% on exams, whilst others may be assessed mainly on coursework. At Bath, our assessment method for Social Policy includes both exams and coursework.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of having done work placements as part of your level 3 course – they give you an opportunity to reflect on the link between your academic study and professional practice. Also, remember that as a student in a further education college, you’ll have had useful experience of an independent approach to studying which will put you in a good position when you start university.
It’s a good idea to include details of which units you are taking as part of your national diploma and grades gained so far – this enables us to see where you have done well in units which are particularly relevant for the degree course
Which national diploma courses will you consider and why?

We will consider applicants from any national diploma subject (as well as other vocational courses such as the CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education). This is the same approach as we take to applicants with A levels where no specific subject is required.

You’re application will be considered as long as you have the required grades and meet the other criteria outlined in the prospectus for the BSc Social Work and Applied Social Studies such as grade C or above (or equivalent qualification) in GCSE Maths and English Language a satisfactory Criminal Records Bureau check and a satisfactory declaration of health.