Bachelor of Applied Social Work

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Fees-free tertiary study is now available for eligible first-time tertiary students. Find out more at

About this programme

Professionally-trained social workers are always in demand throughout Northland and New Zealand. Our applied degree programme is aimed at preparing you for the workplace. You’ll focus on how to practice in a culturally safe manner, developing the skills to be critically reflective and maintaining self-care strategies, including ongoing professional supervision. You’ll learn the theory, then practice your skills by carrying out fieldwork in a variety of settings.

This degree responds to the specific and current demands of social services within Tai Tokerau as well as meeting national requirements. It will ensure that you’ll be able to respond to constant change once you’re part of the workforce.

A commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and a global focus ensures our graduates are skilled and knowledgeable about a range of global issues which impact on Aotearoa New Zealand. Students will become equipped to effectively communicate and work within cross cultural and intercultural situations.

You’ll gain the knowledge and skills required in a competent social worker within the context of ethical practice and accountability. On completion you will receive the Bachelor of Applied Social Work – an approved qualification on the Social Worker Registration Board’s schedule for applying to become a registered social worker.

What you will learn

Graduates of the Bachelor of Applied Social Work will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to work in a bi-cultural context and acknowledge the centrality of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to social work as a profession and in practice

  • Apply anti-oppressive social work values, knowledge and skills to complex situations to stimulate personal and social change in a range of work and social contexts

  • Have the ability to work with individuals, families or whānau, communities and groups from diverse ethnic, cultural and indigenous backgrounds

  • Demonstrate resilience and the ability to manage interpersonal conflict and challenges that arise in the context of social work practice

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the origins, purpose and development of Aotearoa New Zealand social work within a global context

  • Demonstrate professional literacy and numeracy, critically evaluate scholarship, critique and apply diverse knowledge and research to social work practice

  • Demonstrate an ability to think critically, and effectively analyse, synthesise and apply information

  • Demonstrate the ability to work autonomously and make independent judgment from a well-informed social work position

  • Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with others in multi-disciplinary teams, organisations and communities

  • Demonstrate a critical reflective approach to individual social work practice through supervision, peer review and self-evaluation

  • Demonstrate an ability to recognise own learning needs and participates in continuing professional development

  • Demonstrate an ability to effectively utilise ongoing professional supervision and a commitment to continuing professional development

  • Demonstrate understanding of, and ability to, integrate sustainability and contemporary social, political, psychological, economic, legal, environmental, cultural and indigenous issues within Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally into both social work as a profession and practice

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the level of skills, knowledge, information, attributes and abilities of a new social work graduate

Fieldwork Education

During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of the degree students will be required to complete a minimum of 120 days in at least two different field placements.


A pass grade for each course is necessary for continuation in the programme. Assessment is carried out by lecturers in a range of activities including written exams, assignments, case studies, group projects, simulated and actual clinical practice, oral presentations and portfolios.

Part-Time Study

Students are able to study part-time and must complete the programme within 10 years of the initial enrolment.

Courses in this programme

Year 1 Level Credits
7737.5101 - Indigenous Voices 5 15
7737.5102 - Te Ao Māori 5 15
7737.5103 - Aotearoa New Zealand Society 5 15
7737.5104 - Social Work Theoretical Frameworks 5 15
7737.5105 - Human Development and Social Work 5 15
7737.5106 - Academic and Digital Literacy 5 15
7737.5107 - Professional Social Work Practice 5 15
7737.5108 - Social Work Practice Skills 5 15
Year 2 Level Credits
7737.6101 - Tauiwi Voices 6 15
7737.6102 - Transformative Whānau Practice 6 30
7737.6103 - Social Work Fields of Practice 6 15
7737.6104 - Mental Health and Addictions 6 15
7737.6105 - Evidence Informed Practice 6 15
7737.6106 - Integrating Theory and Practice 6 30
Year 3 Level Credits
7737.7101 - Diverse and Vulnerable Voices 7 30
7737.7102 - Empowered Communities 7 30
7737.7103 - Transformative Social Work 7 30
7737.7104 - Fieldwork Tuatahi 7 30
Year 4 Level Credits
7737.7105 - My Social Work Voice 7 15
7737.7106 - Social Justice in Action 7 30
7737.7107 - Special Topic 7 30
7737.7108 - Fieldwork Tuarua 7 45

Career pathways and opportunities

Graduates of the Bachelor of Applied Social Work will be able to work both independently and collectively demonstrating competence in interpersonal and intrapersonal communication and practice skills, that can lead to a range of careers including:

  • Social Workers

  • Community support workers

  • Whānau ora workers

  • Community advocates

  • Health workers

  • Drug and Alcohol social workers

  • Mental Health social workers and advocates

  • Housing support workers

  • Maori communities Kaiawhinas

  • Community Advisors

  • Family support workers

NorthTec is committed to assuring that our students can articulate into related graduate and post graduate programmes offered by other tertiary institutions in New Zealand. Graduates of this programme may be prepared to undertake postgraduate study offered by a number of tertiary education providers for example:

  • Master of Social Work - Massey University, Auckland University

  • Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice) - Unitec

Entry Requirements 

Educational Criteria​

Completed NCEA level 3 with University Entrance including at least:

  • 14 credits in an English language rich subject, e.g. English, history, art history, classics, geography, economics

Alternative Educational Criteria

  • Minimum of 'B' passes in a relevant Level 4 Bridging Programme


  • Evidence of recent successful study in other relevant courses at tertiary level


  • Documented verifiable evidence of relevant work life experience (usually the equivalent of two year's full time) that indicates the ability to meet the requirements of this degree. Such evidence would normally include details of roles/responsibilities undertaken, interpersonal skills, other achievements and referee statements. Admission under this provision requires an interview with and approval from the Programme Leader.

English Language Requirements

If English or Maori is not the applicant's first language, or if the applicant did not undertake their secondary schooling in English, candidates will need to have passed an English language proficiency test with an Academic IELTS score of at least 6.5 in all bands.

Additional Entry Requirements for all Bachelor of Applied Social Work applicants

To be eligible for admission to the programme an applicant must have made written application on the prescribed application form and meet the following admission criteria. These criteria are designed to ensure you can successfully undertake placement and meet the requirements of the Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB).

  • Applicants must hold a full and unrestricted NZ drivers licence (Disability exemption available). This is a requirement for all Fieldwork placements.

  • Name two independent referees (non-relatives) who will provide confidential information on the applicant.

  • Include a curriculum vitae and a personal statement by the applicant indicating their motives for applying for entry to the Bachelor of Applied Social Work.

  • Provide a current police check. The Consent to Disclose Information will give permission for the Polytechnic to obtain any records of criminal offences from the New Zealand Police. The Criminal Record (Clean Slate) Act 2004 does not apply therefore the complete criminal record of convictions will be disclosed.

  • Make confidential disclosure of:

    • past or pending criminal offences;

    • any prior or current involvement with Child, Youth and Family;

    • current status relating to use of any social service agency;

    • current or past history of substance abuse and/or addictions

Disclosures will be considered on a case by case basis and will not necessarily exclude students from selection. However, this information will be disclosed to potential placement agencies as part of placement negotiations and may prevent Northland Polytechnic being able to provide fieldwork placement opportunities in such situations.

Workforce Restrictions for Children's Workforce

If you have a criminal conviction, and you are studying (or considering studying) toward a qualification that will lead to a job in the state funded sector working directly with children, you need to check whether your conviction could prevent you from working in some roles in your chosen field. Find out more.

Credit Recognition

At NorthTec the skills, knowledge and understanding you have gained through your experience or previous study can be credited toward your chosen qualification. Instead of enrolling you will be able to have your prior learning assessed for credit using our established credit transfer, cross-crediting and recognition of prior learning (RPL) procedures. For more information please contact the Social Services Department.

Qualification gained

Bachelor of Applied Social Work.

Courses and programmes may be cancelled, postponed or have their content or configuration changed from time to time (including during the academic year) at the discretion of NorthTec. Fees are an indication, include GST and apply to domestic students only. View terms and conditions

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Full time/Part time


4 years full-time

Start Dates

Whangarei: February

Cost Incl. GST (Approx):

Domestic: $6,308.64 (Year 1)

Student levy may apply

International: $19,760 (per year)

Programme Code


Phone 0800 162 100
Enquire about this programme
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