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Social studies (social work)

B.S.S. (Hons); 45 places

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What is Social Studies?

The BSS is a professional degree designed for students who wish to become social workers and who believe they have the personal attributes and motivation for social work.

The four year BSS social work degree combines an academic social science degree with professional social work training. BSS degree graduates are eligible to apply for registration with CORU (Irish Social Work Registration Board) and once registered can access employment in a wide range of social work posts in Ireland. Graduates can also apply for registration in the UK and Internationally.

Social work is a profession concerned with supporting and helping people in a variety of situations and settings. People who use social work services include young and adult offenders, children, families, older people, people with mental and physical illness and disability, homeless people, unemployed people, ethnic groups, Travellers and people with drug and alcohol problems. Social work spans a wide variety of roles including counselling, group work, lobbying, advocacy and political activism. Social workers network with other professions such as gardaí, doctors, public health nurses and schools as well as service-user and advocacy networks. Ultimately, social work aims to support people to live more successfully, within their communities, by helping them to find solutions to their problems.

Social Studies: course for you?

Social Studies could be the right course for you if you wish to work in a caring and challenging profession. Most importantly, it is the right course for you if you have the ability to problem solve, a willingness to make challenging decisions alongside a strong desire to effect positive change.

Social Studies @ Trinity

This is one of only two undergraduate programmes in Ireland which qualifies students to a professional level in social work. A qualification in the area of social work has been taught in Trinity since 1934, making it Ireland’s oldest and most internationally renowned social work programme.

The small class size ensures that there is a friendly relationship between staff and students that is based on mutual respect. The degree programme which is accredited by CORU combines teaching on a range of social science subjects alongside work placements. The Social Studies degree is an interesting and intensive programme which aims to help you become a reflective and proactive professional social worker who will make a significant contribution to society.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

As a Social Studies graduate of Trinity, you are eligible to apply to register as a professionally qualified social worker with CORU. Your qualification will be recognised in many other countries. You also have a good social science degree that 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.

Your degree and what you’ll study

This course introduces you to a wide range of social science subjects in the first year, and then increases the number of social work subjects in the following three years. Teaching methods are varied, interactive and draw on your personal and practical experience. Assessment includes written examinations, essays, case studies, projects, and placement reports.


First year subjects include Introduction to Social Work, Psychology, Social Policy, Sociology, Economic Policy and Political Science. Optional courses in either French or German are also available. In first year, there are approximately 13-15 hours in lectures, 3-4 hours in tutorial classes and several hours in the library each week. If you have had no relevant practical 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 practical experience and help you to apply what you are learning to a real-world situation. First year students are also provided with the opportunity to undertake a six week placement related to the course (see below for further details).

In 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. Second year students can also avail of the opportunity to take a Broad Curriculum module in this year (see The social work modules involve field trips to relevant organisations and services. In addition, students undertake a ten week placement during this academic year.


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


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 practical experience and an opportunity to apply and develop the skills and knowledge that you have acquired at Trinity. Placements are arranged in settings such as child and family welfare 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 first and second years and mostly in term time in the third and fourth years. 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.

Study abroad


Overseas placements are possible (but not obligatory) within the course structure for those who are interested in experience in another country (e.g. the UK, North America, Australia).


Twitter: @SWSP_TCD


Tel: +353 1 896 2347

What our graduates say

Annmarie Nolan – Graduate of the Bachelor in Social Studies (2011)

Immediately after her graduation, Annmarie took up a post in the Child and Family Services, HSE South and worked as a Child Protection social worker before taking up her current post as a Mental Health social worker. Annmarie advises those interested in studying for the BSS to “Go for it! It’s a thoroughly enjoyable course with a good mix of academic and practical elements. In BSS, you receive four years of intense social work training which prepares you for any social work role in Ireland and abroad. The standard of graduates from BSS is extremely high and potential employers recognise this. Social Work is a career that has great career prospects with a huge variety of roles, so, if you’re interested, apply for BSS and you won’t regret it.”

What our current students say

Rachel Brady – Junior Sophister (3rd year) student of the Bachelor in Social Studies from Co Sligo

“What I like most about the BSS course is that it is so broad. We get to learn about all different aspects of Social Work, as well as doing some modules in Social Sciences such as Gender Studies, Race and Ethnicity and Social Inequality. I feel like I have a lot of options as to what I can do with this degree and that’s an advantage that a lot of students don’t have.”

Ashling Nesbitt | Senior Sophister (4th year) student of the Bachelor in Social Studies from Co Kildare

“The BSS course is exactly what it says on the tin. It provides you with quality learning and training on professional placements. Small class size, good quality teaching and professional placement opportunities equal a successful job hunt when the course is completed.”

Course Options


B.S.S. (Hons)

Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



GARDA VETTING Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting. See for further details.

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here


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

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Social Studies, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/02/2017

Non-EU Applicants

  • Social Studies, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2017
  • Advanced Entry Applications

    Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the link below to apply.

    CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



    GARDA VETTING Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting. See for further details.