Social Work Access Course | Access To HE Social Work | learndirect

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work)

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The Access to HE Diploma (Social Work) has been designed for people who want to study social work at an undergraduate level, but do not have the A-levels they need to enrol on a university course. Recognised across the UK as a suitable alternative to conventional qualifications, most universities allow you entry with an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Social work is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers as it grants people the chance to achieve social change. This social work access course combines the essential concepts of sociology, psychology and social policy with social work methods, assessments and opportunities for change to give you a solid foundation upon which you can build in the future. It is the best qualification to prepare you for a career in supporting and transforming the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

At the same time, Access to Higher Education Diplomas equip you with the essentials for academic study and independent learning, to ensure your success in higher education. Along with learning about your subject, you will also spend time developing fundamental study skills like organisation, time management and research. These skills will ease you into the process of academic study and help you in your future career as a social worker also.

Once you enrol, you will be able to access all your course materials and start learning straight away from the comfort of your own home. Working at your own pace, you can choose to finish your qualification in as little as 6 months, or you can take as long as 18 months. A dedicated tutor will also be available, online, over the phone or via email, to provide feedback and guidance throughout your learning journey.

Developing your career

The Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work) and its delivery through our virtual learning platform will give you the best possible chance of fulfilling your dream of achieving a university degree.

The course will fully prepare you to apply for university so that you can begin your journey to a career in social work via higher education. Once you graduate, you can look forward to several exciting career paths: you could become a social worker, counsellor, occupational therapist or work in health and social care more widely.

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Unit 1: Preparing to Study

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand how study is organised and planned
  • Understand how to apply theories of learning in relation to personal approaches to learning
  • Understand a range of constraints upon study
  • Understand the importance of assessment feedback


Unit 2: Academic Writing Skills

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Be able to write with relevance in responding to an academic task
  • Know how to interpret and discuss ideas and issues in reponding to a set, academic writing task
  • Be able to summarise for academic purposes, selecting key points, information or central ideas


Unit 3:  Preparing a Written Assignment

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand how to use key information sources
  • Understand why sources are acknowledged and referenced
  • Understand a range of reading strategies
  • Understand note-making methods
  • Understand how to plan, draft and produce a written assignment



Unit 4: Introduction to Psychology

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the importance of research in psychology.
  • Understand the main approaches in psychology
  • Understand ethical issues in psychological research.


Unit 5: Understanding Crime and Deviance

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand explanations of crime and deviance.
  • Understand theories of crime and deviance.
  • Understand perceptions of crime and deviance


Unit 6: Introduction to Social Work

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the historical development of social work.
  • Understand the role of the social worker.
  • Understand how social work services are organised in the statutory, voluntary and independent sector.
  • Understand the main purposes and values of social work.


Unit 7: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand research in an area of cognitive psychology.
  • Understand how the findings of research into cognitive processes can be applied to real-life issues.


Unit 8: Sociology of the Family

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand changes in family structure.
  • Understand sociological explanations of the family to include Functionalist, Marxist, feminist and interactionist views.


Unit 9: Combating Prejudice and Discrimination

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand theoretical explanations for prejudice and discrimination.
  • Understand legislative responses to discrimination and prejudice.
  • Understand community initiatives in combating discrimination and prejudice.


Unit 10: Contemporary Issues in Social Policy

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand current issues in social policy
  • Understand current legislation in relation to current issues in social policy.
  • Understand the economic context of a contemporary issue.


Unit 11: Morals and Ethics in Social Work

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand ethics and ethical issues in social work practice.
  • Understand moral dilemmas and social work practice.


Unit 12: Sociology of Health

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand concepts and models of health.
  • Understand the social construction of health and ill health
  • Understand alternative approaches to health.


Unit 13: Social Work Methods

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the concept of planned intervention.
  • Understand the purpose and principles of social work assessments.
  • Understand the range of methods used in social work assessments.
  • Understand social work intervention methods.


Unit 14: The Origins of The Welfare State

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand what is meant by the term welfare state
  • Know the purpose of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and its effects on society
  • Explain and discuss early twentieth century Liberal Reforms and their effect on society
  • Recognise the significance of the Beveridge Report.
  • Recognise the social problems which the Welfare State attempted to address.


Unit 15: Understanding Poverty

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand definitions of poverty
  • Understand ways of measuring poverty.
  • Understand the extent of poverty in contemporary Britain.
  • Understand explanations of poverty.


Unit 16: Abnormal Psychology

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the difficulties faced by psychologists in the definition and diagnosis of abnormal behaviour.
  • Understand a psychological disorder.
  • Understand possible treatments used to treat people with psychological disorders.


Unit 17: Equality of Opportunities

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the main aspects of the legal framework which identify rights and responsibilities about equality of opportunities.
  • Understand how to promote equality of opportunities, inclusiveness and diversity in the workplace.



Unit 18: Sociology of Education

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the importance of education as a socializing agency.
  • Understand the roles of education in contemporary society.
  • Understand the sociological explanations of labelling and the use of stereotypes.
  • Understand the concept of meritocracy


Unit 19: Personal Social Services

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the varying nature of social work provision for children and adults.
  • Understand the roles of the voluntary and private sector in the provision of welfare.
  • Understand the welfare needs of various groups.
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Anyone planning to begin an Access to HE Diploma must have a GSCE in maths and English at grade C or above. This is because universities will usually request these grades as a minimum requirement for entrance on to their courses.

Although Access to HE courses fulfils the entry requirements for most higher education institutions, we would like to remind learndirect students to double check with the university they wish to attend. This is because each university may have its own list of specialised requirements which students are expected to meet. Examples of such requirements include but are not limited to:

  1. Having achieved a certain number of credits at a merit or a distinction.
  2. Attending and passing a face-to-face interview at the university.
  3. Passing a literacy or numeracy test provided by the university.
  4. Completion of a work placement or period of work experience specified by the uni.
  5. We strongly recommend learners starting an Access to Higher Education Diploma have a GCSE Grade A – C in maths and English (or equivalent Level 2 such as Functional Skills/Key Skills etc.) OR a full L2 NVQ qualification in a related subject.

Each learner must undertake their own research to ensure their diploma is properly specified and gives them the best possible chance of gaining entry to their university of choice. This research should be undertaken as soon as possible. In every case, the individual learner is responsible for researching the university’s entrance criteria and meeting the requirements. learndirect will not be able to accept any liability for the inability of any Access to Higher Education Diploma learner failing to secure an offer from a higher education institution.

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For every module you study, you will be required to complete an assignment. Assignments vary and could come in the form of a series of questions, an essay or an academic report. Each assignment will be marked and graded by your tutor and then returned to you along with useful feedback and tips for improvement. From these assessments you will earn a number of credits.

Altogether you will need 60 credits to achieve your Access to HE Diploma. Of the 60, 45 will be taken from the graded, academic modules about social work. The remaining 15 credits will be taken from the ungraded units which focus on study skills. You must complete both the graded and ungraded sections of the course. We also advise that you check the entry criteria of you chosen university so you can ensure you can gain the requisite number of credits.

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Open College Network West Midlands

Open College Network West Midlands logo

On successful completion of the Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work) you will receive a QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma at level 3 (QAA ref: (40010466).This course has also been assigned 60 credits.

Open College Network West Midlands are a national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and Qualifications Wales, to develop and award nationally recognised qualifications.

Open College Network West Midlands work in partnership with employers, training providers, colleges, universities, schools and voluntary and community organisations to offer vocational credit-based qualifications, Access to Higher Education Diplomas and quality assured Customised Accreditation that enables learners gain employment or to progress into further learning and Higher Education. They also Quality Endorse organisations internal training and skills delivery.

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Developing your career

Your Access to Higher Education Diploma and the way it is delivered within our innovative learning platform is designed to give you the best possible chance of fulfilling your dream of studying at university. Higher Education Degrees confirm to any employer your intellect, motivation and ability to work independently to succeed not just in your area of specialism but also life itself. A higher education degree is a gateway qualification that will allow you to apply 1,000's of graduate programmes as well as setting you apart from those who don't have a degree.

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