Trinity College Dublin

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Social studies (social work)

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

Course overview

The B.S.S. degree is one of only two undergraduate programmes in Ireland which qualifies students to a professional level in social work. The degree programme is accredited by CORU (the Health and Social Care Professionals Council). Graduates of the programme are, therefore, eligible to apply for registration with the Social Work Registration Board which operates under CORU. The BSS degree is an intensive programme which aims to help you become a reflective and proactive social worker who will make a significant contribution across a broad range of statutory, voluntary and community services.

Is this the right course for you?

Social studies is the right course for you if you wish to work in one of the caring professions and think social work is the one closest to your interests. Most importantly it is the right course for you if you believe you have the personal qualities and motivation necessary for this line of work. Potential applicants are advised to find out what social workers do before they apply.

Course content

This course introduces you to a wide range of social science subjects in the Junior Freshman (first) year, and then increases the number of social work subjects in the following three years. Teaching methods are varied and interactive and draw on your personal and practice experience.

The Freshman years

Junior Freshman (first year) subjects include introductions to social work, psychology, social policy, sociology, economic policy and political science. Optional courses in either French or German are also available (seeĀ In first year, there are approximately 12-14 hours in lectures, 3-4 hours in tutorial classes and several hours in the library each week. If you have had no relevant practice experience before starting the degree, we ask you to do 30 hours (2-3 hours per week) volunteer work during first year to build your confidence and help you to apply what you are learning to a real-world situation. Junior Freshman students are also provided with the opportunity to undertake a six week placement related to the course (see below for further details).

In the Senior Freshman (second) year, core subjects are social work theory and practice, law for social workers, social policy, psychology and social research. In addition, you can either continue your language studies or choose one elective course from sociology, politics, or economics. Senior Freshman students can also avail of the opportunity to take a Broad Curriculum module in this year (seeĀ The social work courses involve field trips to relevant organisations and services. In addition students undertake a ten week placement during this academic year.

The Sophister years

Junior and Senior Sophister (third and fourth) year subjects include:

  • Family and child care studies
  • Social policy
  • Sociology
  • Mental health
  • Equality issues
  • Group work
  • Human rights law
  • Social work theory and practice, including counselling skills and practice workshops


Assessment includes essays, case studies, projects, examinations and placement reports.

Professional practice

In each of the four years you will have a placement in a different social service agency under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. These placements provide you with practice experience and an opportunity to apply and develop the skills and knowledge that you have acquired in College. Placements are arranged in settings such as health service community care teams, hospital social work departments, child and family centres, probation service, and community development projects. They account for approximately 30% of your course time (220 days) over the four years and take place at the end of each of the Freshman years and mostly in term time in the Sophister years. Overseas placements are possible (but not obligatory) within the course structure for those who are interested in gaining relevant experience in another country (e.g. Britain, North America, Australia). You are supported in your professional development by an individual social work tutor who meets you regularly and visits you on placement from third year onwards.

Career opportunities

As a social studies graduate of Trinity, you are eligible to apply to register as a professionally qualified social worker with CORU (The Health and Social Care Professionals Council). Your qualification will also be recognised in many other countries. You also have a good social science degree which allows you to move into policy, media, research or NGO project work. As a social worker, you can continue your professional development through postgraduate courses and can move into management, research or training.

Did you know?

The B.S.S. degree is unique in

  • offering each student four placements in practice-related settings,
  • offering each student the individual support of both a College tutor and a social work tutor.

Further information


Tel: +353 1 896 2001

Graduate Profile

Geoff Loane

I chose Trinity as a place where there was a widely appreciated value of creative academic and personal exploration. This space allowed for both critical thinking and innovative ways of learning about oneself and the course of study. In particular, personal development was strongly supported and the proximity between faculty and students facilitated very important learning during those crucial years.

Trinity lived up to its reputation and whilst it maintained a line of discipline and rigour both academically and socially, it also provided a safe space, which allowed for some grand exploration in every way. The confidence that this generated and the friendships remain valuable and precious 30 years later.

This openness supported my quest for a career where I could make a difference, albeit in the smallest of ways. It gave me the insight to realize that university was one step on a path of growth and that careers are based on the need for insights into oneself and an understanding of aspirations, skills and means.

Whilst I traveled and explored for a few years, I then worked as a social worker for two years before discovering what was to become my career in the humanitarian aid world. More than 25 years have passed since I started my work in this field, supporting victims of the wars and famines in Ethiopia. Since that time, I have had the privilege to work in Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda during the height of their conflicts and to bring assistance and relief to those societies. I have also worked in the Middle East, Balkans, and managed the emergency relief unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. More recently, my time has been spent working in Washington in the post 9/11 world, representing the ICRC to the US government in relation to its use of military and intelligence detention, including Guantanamo Bay Cuba and CIA detention.

Intermittently, I have been able to write about my experiences and the practice of aid as well as teach at a number of universities on the subject.