University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Social Work (combined degree)

About the degree

The Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Social Work prepares students for employment in a complex, diverse and changing environment.

Human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work, according to the International Federation of Social Work definition of the profession. Graduates are expected to be reflective, versatile and skilled in a range of practice areas, and able to translate professional values into action.

Social workers may use many different types of intervention such as community work; individual and family counselling; group work; policy development; advocacy; and research.

They work in varied contexts such as health services, aged care, women’s services, disability services, child and family services, international development, and migration and refugee services.

Requirements for completion

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Social Work are required to complete 240 credit points as described in the unit of study table.

First year

Students combine qualifying as a professional social worker with two years' tertiary studies in other areas of interest such as languages or history.

In first year, students will learn the basics of Sociology and begin their studies in the Bachelor of Arts choosing a subject area of interest.

Second year

In second year, students take their first social work and policy study units and are exposed to the program’s critical, anti-oppressive approach to theory, Aboriginal issues and perspectives, “mental health”, life stages and social research. Students continue to complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts, such as their major or minor units of study.

Third year

In third year, students move into the social work and policy area, drawing on critical interdisciplinary and discipline-specific knowledge and theory. Students will complete all requirements for the Bachelor of Arts including majors, minors and Open Learning Environment units of study.

Fourth Year

In fourth year, social work is introduced as a distinctive discipline. Students will extend their knowledge of and ability to critically assess and evaluate: social policies shaping the social worlds; and the social processes and practices that empower and oppress the populations with whom we work. Students will have the opportunity for their first field experience in which the students will be an active participant grounded with theory.

Fifth Year

In fifth and final year, students continue to deepen their critical analysis, skills and knowledge base. They complete their second field placement and participate in a range of courses that integrate and extend their capacity to apply critical, anti-oppressive frames to pressing social problems and social needs.


In fourth year, Honours students participate in research seminars to provide them with a higher level of research skills and analysis. Students work closely with a faculty member, who acts as their supervisor in fifth year on a research project involving original data and deepening student’s capacity to undertake rigorous, theory-engaged, social justice-linked research. Students produce a research report that demonstrates their capacity to participate in a social research project and reflect critically on it.

Contact and further information

Bachelor of Social Work, Program Director, Dr Amanda Howard

Sydney School of Education and Social Work