Getting Qualified

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Obtaining educational qualifications for entry

The most popular routes of entry to the BA (Honours) in Social Work, together with a commentary on what appears to be the common advantages and disadvantages of each are listed below.

At the foot of this page there are links to colleges of further education in the west, south-west and central Scotland, as well as a link to the access course run by University of Strathclyde.

Ultimately, the University makes its decisions about suitability for the BA (Honours) in Social Work based on a combination of factors, not least of which is how any individual has responded to the opportunities s/he has had.


Traditional qualifications

Scottish Highers, Irish Leaving Certificates, A levels

These are usually available at secondary schools or via colleges.  


  • qualifications are universally recognised as demanding and rigorously assessed
  • can be studied in a huge variety of venues
  • good preparation for study at further education level


  • may require prior attainment at lower level
  • some feel subject and content may be geared towards younger students 
  • the teaching approach is often relatively traditional and it is assessed primarily through examination

Non-traditional qualifications


Preferred relevant subjects are listed below –

  • Social Care
  • Social Sciences
  • Early Education & Childcare
  • Counselling
  • Working With Communities
  • Learning & Development


  • widely available in colleges across the UK
  • flexible entry requirements for older students
  • in the case of HNC Social Care, its content is normally highly relevant to social work
  • teaching/learning approach pitched at appropriate pace and level for older students
  • good study support
  • HNC Social Care courses normally provide a relevant, structured placement experience
  • HNC in Social Care provides a qualification valued by employers in social care, and career/ training options in social care as alternative to social work.


  • full-time commitment to study
  • some course content may be repeated in social work course
  • completion of HNC vocational programme is not widely recognised as entry qualification to degrees outside of social work.

Approved Access to Higher Education Courses


  • no prior qualifications necessary
  • widely available in a number of FE centers
  • usually closely supported by college tutors
  • paced and taught in a way particularly relevant to older students
  • may attract financial support and childcare is often available


  • full-time commitment required
  • no guarantee of progression into a specific course at a university

Colleges in and around Glasgow

Please note, the University recognises that decisions about which pre-entry route might be most appropriate would depend on a wide range of personal, family, social and other factors and any choice would be a personal matter.

Ayrshire College    

City of Glasgow College

Glasgow Clyde College

Glasgow Kelvin College

New College Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire College

West College Scotland

Other relevant routes to entry

Pre-entry Access Course - University of Strathclyde


  • usually no prior qualifications or entry requirements apply
  • subjects and content geared to adult interests
  • taught by university staff and rigorously assessed by a wide range of methods, including examination
  • formal study usually confined to 1, occasionally 2, evenings per week
  • minimum cost to students
  • universally recognised for entry to wide range of university degree programmes
  • excellent preparation for study in Higher Education.


  • may require mandatory study of unfamiliar subject in arts
  • study support is virtually non-existent
  • effectively requires good study skills, tight discipline and capacity to write fluently from the very outset.