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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Ara Institute of Canterbury
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Bachelor of Social Work

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


4 years

Next start date

Expected Feb 2025


Ara Institute of Canterbury


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 field education placements in Years 3 and 4 may be outside of Christchurch and a full driver’s license 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.

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.

Entry criteria

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 three approved* subjects and:

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)

Due to Covid-19 disruption, if you studied and achieved NCEA Level 3 during 2020, you only need 12 credits per Level 3 subject (i.e. total of 36 credits). Literacy and Numeracy requirements remain the same

If you have undertaken examinations other than NCEA (e.g. International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Examination), Ara will assess your qualification for academic entry equivalency.

* NZQA approved subjects:

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.

Overall IELTS 6.5 Academic


TOEFL (pBT) - Score of 590 (with an essay score 5.5 TWE)

TOEFL (iBT) - Score of 79 or higher (with a writing score of 21)

Cambridge English Qualifications - C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill

PTE (Academic) PTE (Academic) score of 58 with no band score lower than 50

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