Department of Social Work

Social Work Qualifications

The University of South Africa offers training for two undergraduate qualifications namely the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and the Higher Certificate in Social Auxiliary Work (HCSAW).

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) (90088)

The Bachelor of Social Work is a practice-based, professional qualification that contributes positively to the government’s agenda of social transformation.

Social work offers many opportunities for professional and personal development and can be employed in different government deartments, non-governmental organisations, faith and community-based organisations, rehabilitation centres and child and youth care centres, amongst others.

You can follow various pathways with BSW degree. These include:

  • A social worker in the field of child and family welfare helps children and families change their behaviour or circumstances to promote the preservation of families and communities.
  • A community social worker identifies and addresses the social and economic pressures people experience that may cause social problems.
  • A geriatric social worker works with older people within institutions and the community.
  • An occupational social worker provides employee wellness programmes to employees in a workplace.
  • A forensic social worker focuses on legal issues, which involve child custody, divorce, neglect, child and spousal abuse, juvenile and adult justice services.
  • A medical social worker render services to patients in hospital by helping them cope with their illness while focusing on the client’s physical and mental health.
  • A social worker in the field of substance abuse helps people with substance abuse related problems to rehabilitate and re-establish a constructive life in society.
  • A social worker working in the field of marriage and divorce assists couples and families experiencing marital problems or going through a divorce.
  • A school social worker is responsible for the welfare of the children in a school by providing education on life skills, as well as individual, family and group counselling.
  • A lecturer educates and assesses social work students and conducts research into practical and academic questions.
  • A social work researcher explores the causes of social problems and methods of overcoming these problems

Mode of Delivery: Blended (Both online and face-to-face)
Minimum Credits: 552

The proposed programme is aligned to the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) and the exit-level outcomes of the National Programme Review of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC).

The Unisa BSW contributes in a unique way to the social work profession by:

  • Following a developmental approach, which means it focuses on empowering clients, promoting social justice, equality, Ubuntu, participation of clients and communities in decision making.
  • Utilising a number of theories for example systems theory, empowerment theory, person-centred approach and strengths-based perspective, which enable the social worker to apply theory in various problem-fields and contexts.
  • Promoting an integrated approach, which means that one group of clients, can benefit from the methods of casework, group work and community work.
  • Integrating theory and practice from the second year.
  • Focusing on indigenous knowledge and work with diverse groups of people.

For more information on Bachelor of Social Work, including qualification admission requirements and module information, click here.

The qualification in Social Work provides for continuous learning and a further career pathing towards NQF Level 9 and 10 qualifications

Higher Certificate in Social Auxiliary Work (HCSAW) (90011)

The training of social auxiliary workers started in 1993 by the SACSSP, in collaboration with government departments and Non-Governmental Organisations. In compliance with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) Act of1995, the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) in Social Auxiliary Work (SAW) (NQF Level 4) was developed and officially registered with SAQA in 2003. In 2011, SAW upgraded from NQF Level 4 to NQF Level 5.

Persons with a qualification in social auxiliary work, can be employed in various fields of social work practice to support social workers in their responsibilities. This qualification also serves as a bridging course for applicants who wish to enrol for social work in the future but do not yet meet the university requirements.

Mode of Delivery: Blended (Both online and face to face)
NQF Level: 5
Minimum Credits: 5

Unisa is the first and only institution offering SAW at NQF Level 5.

Qualification admission requirements

Click here for information on the admission requirements for the HCSAW

Students must be registered with the SACSSP at the start of their studies. The Department of Social Work at UNISA will facilitate registration with the Council. Please bear in mind that SAW is a selection qualification. Applicants who qualify in terms of the above requirements will be invited to a no-cost venue-based selection test, which they will write in their respective area. The purpose of the test is to select candidates who are suitable in character for this qualification.

The qualification comprises 10 compulsory modules of 12 credits each offered on NQF level 5. For more information, click here.


There are two pre-requisites to be considered.

  • The Modules SAW1503 and SAW1506 must be completed before doing SAW1504. SAW 1501 and SAW1503 are co-requisites. This means SAW1501, SAW1503 and SAW1506 are done together.
  • Registration with SACSSP before starting any practical work
  • Full-time/Part-time study: The qualification can be completed in one year provided that the student studies this full time. Suggested route for completing the qualification: The qualification can be completed in one year when studying full-time:

First semester – SAW1501, SAW1503 and SAW1506 plus any two of the following modulesAFL1501 , APY1501 , ENG1511,INS1502

  • Second semester – SAW1502, SAW1504 and SAW1505 plus any two of the modules not selected in the first semester (AFL1501 , APY1501 , ENG1511,INS1502) When doing it over two years the following route is recommended:
    • Year one – SAW1502 and SAW1506 together with two or three of the following modules AFL1501, APY1501, ENG1511,INS1502
    • Year two – Semester one SAW1501 and SAW1503. These two modules run concurrently. Semester two SAW1504 and SAW1505 and remainder of the compulsory modules.

Last modified: 2018/08/24