Bachelor of Social Work Bachelor of Social Work

A-Z study guide
A photograph of two people shaking hands

DegreeFull-time, 4 years | Part-time up to 10 years

Programme code








Domestic Applications due

31 October, late applications may be considered

International Applications due

31 October, late applications may be considered


Christchurch - Madras Street

Annual Fees(indictive 2020)


$5,700 - $6,700



Course related costs

$1,000 text books per year. Expenses associated with work placements (Years 3 - 4)

About this programme

Gain the skills needed to help and support people facing challenging situations and events.

You will develop the attributes for professional social work practice in New Zealand as you engage in study integrating practice and community within the classroom. This programme is underpinned by a philosophy of bi-culturalism and anti-oppressive practice.

Our four year programme will take you from the fundamentals of professionalism, research skills, critical thinking and informed decision making, in your first year through to your second, third and fourth years when you will take these skills to an advanced level.

Each year has an integrated practice course where learning is linked to the practice environment. In the second, third and fourth years integrated practice includes significant time in social work agencies.

Please note that integrated practice in Years 2, 3 and 4 may be outside of Christchurch and a full driver's licence is required otherwise agency options are likely to be limited.

The programme includes two compulsory 24-hour marae visits (including overnight stays).

By the end of the degree, you will have developed the professional values and attitudes for social work practice as identified by the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and the Social Workers Registration Board Code of Conduct and will be able to apply for provisional registration.

There is currently a shortage of social workers, including people identifying with the following groups: Maori, Pacific, migrant, refugee, male and disabled persons who are encouraged to apply.

Please note, if you are thinking about studying part time in Year 1 you need to be working in the social services either in paid or voluntary employment.

Word processing of assignments is required during this programme.

In our most recent graduate survey, 81% of 2016 Bachelor of Social Work graduates were in employment (Ara Graduate Outcome Survey, 2016).

Career opportunities

As a graduate of this programme you will be ready for social work practice in statutory organisations eg Child Youth and Family, Probation and Prison Service, faith based services, community organisations and health and hospital services.

Study pathways

On completion of this programme you can advance your studies with a Master in Social Work at a variety of New Zealand universities.

Recommended school subjects

  • English
  • Mathematics

Programme structure

To complete this Degree you are required to complete 480 credits. Please browse the guide below to view the course options currently available within this qualification.

Core courses
Elective Courses

To be a full time student you need to maintain a workload of 120 credits per year. We recommend you talk with us to ensure you choose electives to benefit your future career.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
  • University Entrance - NCEA Level 3 (60 credits at Level 3 and 20 credits at Level 2 or higher) which must include

    • 14 credits at Level 3 in each of:
      • English or an approved literacy* subject
      • two other subjects from the list of approved subjects* and
    • Literacy* - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of 5 credits in reading, 5 credits in writing and
    • Numeracy* - 10 credits at Level 1 or above (specified achievement standards, or unit standards 26623, 26626, 26627)

    Note: Students who have undertaken examinations other than NCEA (eg International Baccalaureate, Cambridge examination) should contact us for requirements.

    * NZQA approved subjects: see

Alternative requirements
  • Still want to study but don't meet the Academic Requirements?

    If you show that you have equivalent skills for tertiary study gained through study, work and/or life experience, you may be able to gain alternative entry.

Additional requirements
  • In addition you need to:

    • Provide evidence of good character and personal attributes via two referee reports and a 500-word personal statement.
      • In your application you need to demonstrate formal or informal experience in a social work, social services or a related helping role, and the ability to analyse and relate this experience to a social work context. Your referees reports, word processed personal statement, and interview should provide evidence of appropriateness to study for the social work profession: commitment to social justice, openness to explore biculturalism, self-awareness and openness to change and being challenged, openness to participate in interactive group learning, willingness to be honest and reflective about personal experiences, high level of skill in interpersonal communication and personal maturity.
    • hold a Current Class 1 Drivers Licence unless medical verification is provided in relation to a disability or impairment that prohibits the applicant from being able to drive.
    • Consent to Disclosure of Information - Successful applicants will be required to complete a New Zealand Police Vetting Service Request and Consent Form. The form will be sent to the NZ Police Vetting Service, and returned in confidence to the Head of Department. For more information go to: .
    • you may need to attend an interview if you meet academic entry criteria
English requirements
  • What if English is not my first Language?

    If English is not your first language, we want to make sure that you will be successful in your chosen programme of study. Please provide a result from a test or qualification on the acceptable alternatives English Proficiency Outcomes Chart .


    • If you are a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent Resident, complete an Admission and Enrolment form and Ara will contact you regarding a free assessment.
    • If you are not a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent resident, book an IELTS, Pearson or other test through the Ara Examination Centre or in your home country

    IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (ie combining scores from more than one test is not permissible) and are valid for two years from the date of the test.

    All students for whom English is not their first language will be informed of the SWRB requirement of IELTS 7.0 Academic for registration.

    What if I have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance?

    The English Language requirements for this programme are higher than the minimum set by NZQA, therefore; applicants who have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance may be required to provide evidence of English Language skills.










Acceptable Alternatives Chart

Selection criteria

A selection process will be used when making decisions about offering places on the BSW. The selection process will include an assessment of the information provided in the application process. All applicants will be considered and weighted on their academic achievement, character and suitability for social work practice.

All applicants will be assessed against the Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) Fit and Proper policy as a guide for determining whether to offer a place on the BSW. Where an applicant does not meet the SWRB Fit and Proper guidelines, the applicant will be interviewed on an individual basis and given the opportunity to provide further background or explanatory information. A final decision regarding entry to the BSW will be made on a case by case basis following this interview and having considered the additional information provided by the applicant.

Next steps

To apply for this programme please:

  • complete an social work application pack and an Admission and Enrolment form

If you feel you have gained your learning through on the job experience talk to us about recognition or assessment of prior learning .

Application documents

Credit recognition

If you have work experience in this area, or a relevant prior qualification, you may be eligible for credit recognition towards this qualification.