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Social Work

Social Work builds on the ambition students have for making a positive difference in the lives of others, producing passionate graduates for a growing industry. Qualified social workers are sought after both within New Zealand and overseas.

Apply now for the 2022 Bachelor of Social Work intake. It is preferred that applications are made prior to the 31st October, 2021, however applications will still be considered beyond this date.

Social Work programmes at Waikato are interdisciplinary enabling students to develop values, knowledge and skills to be competent professional social work practitioners. Our curriculum reflects the principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility, and respect for diversities that are central to social work, and is underpinned by a range of perspectives from subjects such as Human Development, Māori and Indigenous Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work.

Throughout your social work studies, you will learn a range of skills and gain new knowledge to help you thrive as a social worker. At the end of your studies, you will have a critical understanding of how socio-structural inadequacies, discrimination, oppression and social, political and economic injustices affect human functioning and development at all levels and a diverse range of skills and tools to address these challenges and enhance wellbeing.

The Social Work programme is currently offering a four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, which may be awarded with honours at the Tauranga Campus. The BSW degree is recognised by the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) and will enable graduates to obtain professional registration as a social worker in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Key information

Study Location:Tauranga
Area of Study:

Study Social Work in these qualifications

Study Social Work as a specialisation of

Career opportunities

  • Child and Family Services Worker
  • Child Protection Worker
  • Community Worker
  • Policy Analyst
  • Probation Officer
  • Social Worker
  • Therapist/Counsellor
  • Youth Worker

Year 1

Students must take HMDEV100, MAORI150, PHILO103, PSYCH101, SOCIO101, SOCPY100, SOCWK101 and SOCWK102.

In the event a required paper (excluding SOCWK papers) is not offered, students may substitute an alternative paper identified and approved by the Social Work Programme Convenor.

Year 2

Students must take MAORI222, SOCPY200, SOCPY201, SOCWK201, SOCWK202, SOCWK205 and SOCWK302.

In the event a required paper (excluding SOCWK papers) is not offered, students may substitute an alternative paper identified and approved by the Social Work Programme Convenor.

Year 3

Students must take SSRES200, HMDEV340, SOCWK300, SOCWK303 and SOCWK306 plus a further 15 points at 200 level or above chosen from one of the following subjects: Human Development, Māori and Indigenous Studies, Philosophy, Political Sciences, Psychology, Social Policy, Social Work, Sociology and Te Reo Māori.

In the event a required paper (excluding SOCWK papers) is not offered, students may substitute an alternative paper identified and approved by the Social Work Programme Convenor.

Year 4

Students must take 120 points, consisting of SOCWK400, SOCWK403 and either:

i) SOCWK401 plus a further 15 points at 300 level chosen from one of the following subjects: Human Development, Māori and Indigenous Studies, Philosophy, Political Sciences, Psychology, Social Policy, Social Work, Sociology and Te Reo Māori or a paper approved by the Social Work Programme Convenor


ii) SOCWK490. Students wishing to be considered for the award of Honours must include SOCWK490 in their programme of study. Admission to this paper is at the discretion of the Convenor of Social Work.

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
HMDEV100Lifespan Development15.021A (Hamilton), 21B (Online) & 21B (Tauranga)
HMDEV100 focuses on understanding and enhancing human development through an exploration of biological, psychological, social and cultural factors that influence patterns of development and learning over the lifespan.
MAORI150Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi15.021A (Hamilton), 21A (Tauranga) & 21B (Hamilton)
This paper seeks to provide a sound understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It reviews historical and contemporary interpretations and takes into account the interplay of contextual issues of the time.
PHILO103Critical Thinking15.021A (Online) & 21G (Online)
This paper helps students to engage critically with the sorts of arguments encountered both inside and outside the University.
PSYCH101Social Psychology, Health and Well-being15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (Tauranga)
This paper will introduce major issues in psychology particularly as they relate to health, wellbeing, mental illness, forensic psychology, lifespan development, and social factors in a range of contexts.
SOCIO101Introduction to Sociology15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (Tauranga)
This paper prepares students for further study in a range of social science subjects. It introduces the main sociological theories, concepts and practices that enable an understanding of contemporary societies.
SOCPY100Introduction to Social Policy15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (Tauranga)
This paper examines the values behind social policy and introduces students to some of the important issues and debates in New Zealand and other democratic societies.
SOCWK101Introduction to the Social Work Profession15.021A (Tauranga)
This paper provides students with an opportunity to examine the history and purpose of social work practice internationally and in the context of culture, colonisation and diversity in Aotearoa.
SOCWK102Introduction to Social Work Theory15.021B (Tauranga)
This paper provides students with an introduction to major traditions in social work theory that inform and guide social work practice, including systems, behavioural, psychodynamic, critical, feminist, anti-oppressive and indigenous theories.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
MAORI222He Ao Hurihuri He Ao Tuakiri: Evolving Māori Culture and Identity15.021B (Tauranga)
A critical examination of the diverse realities of being Maori in a changing world, highlighting local and global impacts on Maori culture and identity.
SOCPY200Social Policy and Social Issues15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (Tauranga)
The paper continues the study of social policy at 200 level. The focus of this paper is on the welfare state, the policy cycle as well as social problems, such as poverty.
SOCPY201Social Policy, Families and Children15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (Tauranga)
This paper further develops students' theoretical understanding of social policy, while focusing specifically on policy related to families and children, providing insight into the relationships between policy and lived experience.
SOCWK201Working with Violence in Human Services15.021B (Tauranga)
This paper examines the causes and effects of neglect, abuse, and violence across the life span. It examines interactions between biological, psychological, socio-structural, economic, political, cultural and spiritual aspects of abuse, neglect and violence, along with prevention and intervention strategies.
SOCWK202Social Work Approaches and Fields of Practice30.021A (Tauranga)
This paper discusses various approaches, methods and models of social work practice including Maori modalities and critically examines their application to various fields of practice including mental health, health, addictions and disability.
SOCWK205Community Development15.0No occurrences
This paper critically explores the evolution, dimensions and practice of community development in Aoteoroa New Zealand including Maori development. It also focuses on the strategies, skills and tools necessary for community development practice.
SSRES200Social Science Research Methods15.021A (Online)
This paper introduces the core research methods used in the social sciences. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are introduced, along with consideration of aspects such as ethics and the Treaty of Waitangi.

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
HMDEV340Perspectives on Counselling15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (Tauranga)
This paper examines the philosophical, psychological and sociological principles that underpin the aims and methods of the helping professions in general, and counselling in particular.
SOCWK300Social Work Placement 145.021X (Tauranga)
This first placement of 60 days in a social service agency under supportive supervision provides students with the opportunity to apply theoretical learning, skills and social work values to day-to-day social work practice. This paper gives focus to social work competencies.
SOCWK302Bicultural and Multicultural Social Work Practice15.021B (Tauranga)
This paper examines bi-cultural and multicultural dimensions of social work practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. Students consider how their value base shapes practice working with people from cultures similar to, and different to their own.
SOCWK303Children and Young People at Risk15.021A (Tauranga)
This paper critically examines the application of social work theories and research to social work practice issues with children and young people at risk.
SOCWK306Social Work Professional Skills15.021X (Block - Tauranga)
This paper enables students to critically examine, review and develop a range of professional skills required for social work. With a focus on encouraging students to evidence how they apply knowledge and skills into social work practice.

400 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
SOCWK400Social Work Placement 245.021X (Tauranga)
This 60 day placement in a social service agency enables students to develop practice to a level of competence close to entry-level social work. Under professional supervision, students initiate, develop and sustain relationships with clients, whanau, groups and organisations and demonstrate independent practice. This is the second...
SOCWK401Social Work Decision Making30.021A (Tauranga)
This paper provides students with a critical research-based approach to support decision-making in social work practice. Students examine and evaluate evidence for its socio-economic and cultural context and develop skills to transfer this learning into practice.
SOCWK403Social Justice, Ethics and Law30.021A (Tauranga)
This paper critically examines social justice issues, principles and models of justice and human rights. Students develop an understanding of the judicial system in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the legal, ethical and professional responsibilities of social workers.
SOCWK490Social Work Decision Making Research Project45.0No occurrences
Students plan, undertake and report on a supervised research project on social work decision making. Students critically consider the place of evidence in making choices about appropriate and effective decisions in social work practice.

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Subject links

Social Work Programme

Subject Requirements

For more information about subject requirements, please refer to the Catalogue of Papers for the most up to date information. If you have any questions and need more advice, contact one of our friendly student advisors on phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4080 or email: [email protected]


School of Social Sciences
Phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4030
General and Undergraduate Email Enquiries: [email protected]