Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) 4 yr Undergraduate Curriculum
  • Aims of the Programme The Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) aims to develop students' knowledge, skills and professional values in social work so that the graduates can effectively meet the social service needs of the community in a flexible, realistic, creative and professional, yet caring manner. Graduates of our BSW (Hons) programme are recognized by most professional bodies at the international level. They can register as Registered Social Workers (RSW) with the Social Workers Registration Board in Hong Kong.
    Fieldwork practice is an integral part of social work education, and local fieldwork placement is available in the following six major areas: Family Service, School Social Work, Youth Work, Community Work, Rehabilitation Service and Elderly Service. Both Government and Non-governmental organizations provide fieldwork placements for our students. Listed below are some examples:

    1. Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service
    2. Caritas–Hong Kong
    3. Tung Wah Group of Hospitals
    4. Po Leung Kuk
    5. The Boys’ Brigade, Hong Kong
    6. Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong
    7. New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
    8. The Mental Health Association of Hong Kong
    9. Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong
    10. Society of Boys’ Centres
    11. Youth Outreach
    12. HKSKH Lady MacLehose Centre
    13. Concerning CSSA Review Alliance
    14. Community Development Alliance
    15. Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre
    16. Christian Family Service Centre
    17. Kowloon City Baptist Church Neighbourhood Elderly Centre
    18. The Boys' & Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong
    19. Hong Kong Christian Service
    20. Hong Kong Family Welfare Society
    21. Hong Kong Playground Association
    22. The Hong Kong Society for the Blind
    23. Methodist Social Service
    24. Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council
    25. Social Welfare Department
    26. St. James’ Settlement
    27. Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups
  • Programme Structure

    Programme duration and delivery
    The revised BSW (Hons) is a four-year programme. The 4-year social work curriculum model is outlined as follows:

      1. Major (including honours project and Major Electives) 75 units
      2. General Education 38 units
      3. Electives 15 units
      1. TOTAL 128 units
    Distribution of Study Units of BSW (Hons) Programme
    Year Major GE Electives Total Units
    1st 6 26 3 35
    2nd 13 12 6 31
    3rd 26 - 6 32
    4th 30 - - 30
    Total 75 38 15 128

    Students will take General Education and Electives courses in the first three years, which will equip them to have broad-based education for taking life-long learning challenges in social work.

    Social Work Core Block Components
    Four core blocks make up the basic components of the social work major: Human Behaviour & Social Environment, Social Work Theory & Practice, Social Policy, Research & Administration, and Fieldwork.

    Courses within each block have been placed in a pedagogical sequence starting with basic theories and skills and moving progressively towards the acquisition of more advanced and specialized knowledge and practice to prepare students for social work service and graduate studies.

    • Social Work Major Courses (Total 75 units)
    • Core Block I: Human Behaviour and Social Environment (12 units)
      1. GDAR 1876 Psychology of Positive Living ^ 3 units
      2. GDAR 1876 Psychology of Positive Living (3,3,0)
        The course is intended to introduce students' basic concepts and knowledge of psychology of positive living. It is concerned with the scientific study of different aspect of human functioning including behaviors, thoughts, emotions, learning and personality as well as factors that enable individuals to flourish and achieve positive living, with an aim to promoting students' self-understanding, knowledge and potentials in positive emotions, resilience, creativity and character strengths. The course is composed of two parts: (1) introduction of basic concepts and knowledge of psychological study on human functioning; and (2) introduction of the key concepts and knowledge of positive psychology, with the joint expertise of the Social Work Department and Counseling and Development Section, Office of Student Affairs.
      3. SOWK 1015 Social Dimensions of Human Societies ^ 3 units
      4. SOWK 1015 Social Dimensions of Human Societies (3,3,0)
        The course is intended to introduce students' basic concepts and knowledge of human societies with particular emphases placed on sociological perspectives and social issues situated within urban contexts. Insight into human societies comes from many different sources: agency versus structure, micro versus macro, local versus global, etc. This course is concerned with an introductory and interdisciplinary understanding of human societies where people live and experience in their everyday life. Acquiring a brief yet critical understanding of different aspects and processes of human societies including certain social issues can enable students to identify the nature of the relationship and dynamics between individuals/groups and society particularly with respect to urban and cosmopolitan contexts like Hong Kong.
      5. SOWK 1006 Human Development through the Life Span 3 units
      6. SOWK 1006 Human Development through the Life Span (3,3,0)
        This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the overall process of human development from a life span perspective. Growth and changes in the different developmental domains of individuals are addressed as the result of the interactive influences of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors across the life span. Students will appreciate the different major theories of human development in explaining the change processes of individuals and will critically evaluate their applicability in Hong Kong. Major developmental characteristics central to different phases of life, including the associated tasks and challenges, are examined particularly in our cultural context. Students will develop the cultural sensitivity in understanding their own developmental process.
      7. SOWK 2005 Human Behaviour and Diversity 3 units
      8. SOWK 2005 Human Behaviour and Diversity (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1006 Human Development through the Life Span or consent of the Department
        This course aims to provide students with a multi-dimensional framework for assessing human behaviour and functioning; help students to understand and appreciate similarities and diversities relating to human behaviour; help students to understand the theoretical, conceptual and empirical foundations of human behaviour from a diversity perspective; help students to understand the dynamics of oppression, discrimination and privilege; and provide students with an introduction to the realities of practice with diverse population in the local context.
    ^ Students are strongly advised to take GDAR 1876 to fulfill one DR requirement (under the GE category) and to take SOWK 1015 as one Elective course.
    • Core Block II: Social Work Theory & Practice (21 units)
      1. SOWK 2018-9 Skills for Social Work Practice 4 units
      2. SOWK 2018-9 Skills for Social Work Practice (2,2,2)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society
        This course aims to facilitate students' self-understanding and awareness of own behavior and attitude related to the role of a social worker. It helps students to reflect on values and identify value conflict, if any, in the application of the Hong Kong Social Work Code of Ethics to practice. Students will also be equipped with basic knowledge and skills of interpersonal relationships, interviewing skills, community work skills and presentation and recording skills.
      3. SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes 2 units
      4. SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes (2,3,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society
        This course is an introduction to the integrated model as a conceptual framework for the study of social work theory and practice. Students take this courses will examine processes, skills, and generic knowledge common to social work practice in three modes of intervention, i.e. individual, group and community. A variety of structured exercises based on case, group and community studies will be used to develop students' practical and analytical skills. A skills laboratory will run concurrently, in which students will be given the opportunity to develop the basic skills and knowledge of communication and experience the application of skills in experimental exercises. Self-awareness of one's own behaviour, attitudes, understanding, and acceptance of the behaviour of others is a major focus of this section.
      5. SOWK 3028-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work
        (Community Development)
        4 units
      6. SOWK 3028-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work
        (Community Development)
        (2,2,1)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes
        Students will examine and evaluate the major theoretical perspectives and practice approaches of community development. Problems and Issues in the application of community development will be analysed. Students will participate in a variety of simulate situations and exercises to develop their skills.
      7. SOWK 3038-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work (Group) 4 units
      8. SOWK 3038-9 Theory and Practice in Social Work (Group) (2,2,1)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes
        Students will examine and evaluate the major theoretical perspectives and practice approaches of social group work. Problems and issues in the application of group work will be analysed. Students will participate in variety of situations and exercises to develop their skills.
      9. SOWK 3048-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work 4 units
      10. SOWK 3048-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work
        (Individual)
        (2,2,1)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes and SOWK 2018-9 Skills for Social Work Practice
        Students who study this course will examine and evaluate the major theoretical perspectives and practice approaches of social case work. Problems and issues in the application of case work will be analysed. Students will participate in a variety of simulated situations and exercises to develop their skills.
      11. SOWK 4007 Social Work with Families 3 units
      12. SOWK 4007 Social Work with Families (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes or consent of the Department
        This course builds on the foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills for working with families as provided in earlier theory and skill courses. The students will examine the development stages of families and problems that families may encounter. The role of social workers in family services will be examined and family policies and services will be analysed with particular reference to the local context.
    • Core Block III: Social Policy, Research and Administration (19 units)
      1. SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society 3 units
      2. SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society (3,3,0)
        This course enables students to understand the emergence of social welfare and social work in Western as well as Hong Kong societies. The basic elements of social work, including its philosophical foundations, values and knowledge base, will be introduced. Students will have a basic understanding of the nature and practice of social work in different local settings, with discussion about some controversial issues in current social work practice in Hong Kong. Field trips and visits to welfare agencies may be required.
      3. SOWK 2028-9 Social Policy 4 units
      4. SOWK 2028-9 Social Policy (2,2,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society or consent of the Department
        This course aims at providing students with a theoretical as well as an analytical framework in understanding social policy in Hong Kong as well as in the Western world. Students will first examine the theoretical underpinnings of social policy, followed by a critical examination of the dimensions and issues of social policy which affect the distribution of resources in the society. Case examples of social policy in Hong Kong will be used as illustrations throughout the course.
      5. SOWK 3018-9 Social Work Research 4 units
      6. SOWK 3018-9 Social Work Research (2,2,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society or consent of the Department
        This course aims at providing students with a solid knowledge base in social work research and also for the development of basic skills of designing and implementing research projects. By the end of the course, students should be able to identify the basic principles of social work research and are prepared to carry out social work practices through research.
      7. SOWK 3006 Law and Society 2 units
      8. SOWK 3006 Law and Society (2,2,0)
        This course provides a general understanding of the nature and function of law in society. The philosophy, structure and administration of the Hong Kong legal machinery will be studied. Specific ordinances will be examined and the implication for social work practice highlighted.
      9. SOWK 4005 Administration in Human Service Organizations 3 units
      10. SOWK 4005 Administration in Human Service Organizations (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2028-9 Social Policy or consent of the Department
        The focus is on studying selective organizational theories with the aim of fostering a general understanding of human service organizations. Another objective is to help students to comprehend the process, function and skills of management in these agencies. Case studies are used to illustrate the application of administration in social welfare agencies especially in the Hong Kong context.
      11. SOWK 4006 Social Welfare in Chinese Societies 3 units
      12. SOWK 4006 Social Welfare in Chinese Societies (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 1005 Social Work in Contemporary Society or consent of the Department
        The objectives of this course are to help students to gain an overview of the social development of contemporary Chinese societies, to develop an understanding of the institutional structure of modern China, to explore the current welfare issues and challenges, and to examine the actual welfare implementation and training of welfare personnel.
    • Core Block IV: Fieldwork (20 units)

    As part of social work training, students are required to take 2 fieldwork placements in different NGO or government settings in Year III and Year IV. Students will be supervised by experienced fieldwork supervisors weekly during fieldwork learning.

    Overseas placement
    It has always been the department's aspiration that students may have the opportunity to have fieldwork placement overseas. We also believe that the experience of working with people in places other than Hong Kong and in different welfare system can provide students alternative knowledge and skills. These knowledge and skills will certainly benefit the students as well as fellow classmates in the department. The Department awards Ada S.H. Li Social Work Practicum Scholarship to support final year students to have overseas placements in Beijing, Taiwan and Canada, etc.

    • Social Work Honours Project
      1. SOWK 4898-9 Social Work Honours Project 3 units
      2. SOWK 4898 Social Work Honours Project (1,0,1)
        SOWK 4899 Social Work Honours Project (2,0,2)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 3005 Field Practice I and SOWK 3018-9 Social Work Research
        The objectives of the Honours Project are to provide an opportunity for students to work independently on an area of their discipline, to demonstrate original, creative, analytical and problem solving competence, and to apply their knowledge and fieldwork experiences to a specific area in the field of social work. Grading is based on student performance in assessment tasks/ activities. Standardized assessment forms are used both for the proposal and the final Honours Project report.
    • Social Work Electives (any two courses from the following courses) 6 units
      1. SOWK 3205 Love and Human Sexuality 3 units
      2. SOWK 3048-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work
        (Individual)
        (2,2,1)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes and SOWK 2018-9 Skills for Social Work Practice
        Students who study this course will examine and evaluate the major theoretical perspectives and practice approaches of social case work. Problems and issues in the application of case work will be analysed. Students will participate in a variety of simulated situations and exercises to develop their skills.
      3. SOWK 4206 Social Work with Older People 3 units
      4. SOWK 4206 Social Work with Older People (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: Year IV Social Work students or consent of the Department
        This course provides students with an understanding of the ageing process and its implications for social work practice. Social deprivation and difficulties faced by the elderly will be explored especially in the local context. The existing social welfare, medical, housing and employment policy and services for the elderly in Hong Kong will be critically examined, together with consideration of alternatives in social service delivery.
      5. SOWK 4215 Social Work with Youth 3 units
      6. SOWK 4215 Social Work with Youth (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: Year IV social work students or consent of the Department
        The basic objective of this course are to review contemporary theories and perspectives for understanding youth with particular reference to the socio-economic and political context Hong Kong, critically examine the discourses on specific dimensions of youth in Hong Kong, and examine and evaluate selected youth services and approaches to youth work with a review to promoting positive changes.
      7. SOWK 4207 Social Work with People with Mental Health Problems 3 units
      8. SOWK 4207 Social Work with People with Mental Health Problems (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: Year IV Social Work students or consent of the Department
        This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of a range of theories on the scope and causes of mental illness. Different approaches of working with people with mental health problem and their families will be discussed. Existing local policies and legislation pertaining to mental illness will be critically examined. Methods of assessment, intervention and prevention, especially from a social work perspective, will also be explored.
      9. SOWK 4216 Social Work with Disadvantaged Groups 3 units
      10. SOWK 4216 Special Topics in Social Work (Gender and Social Work) (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: Year IV Social Work Students or consent of the Department
        This subject aims to provide students with a gender perspective in practicing social work. Basic concepts of gender, gender inequality and theories of feminism will be introduced. Gender issues in social work and social welfare development will be critically examined. Emphasis will also be placed on understanding principles and strategies of feminist social work and their application in the local context. Students will be equipped with knowledge and skills in dealing with gender issues and working with women and men.
        SOWK 4216 Special Topics in Social Work (Disability and Society) (3,3,0)
        Prerequisite: Year IV Social Work Students
        This subject provides students with in-depth understanding of disability and to equip students with positive attitudes and skills to work with people with a disability. It will examine the various definitions of impairment and disability, contemporary social policy, and practice pertaining to disabled people. Issues and approaches in the rehabilitation of people with a disability are also discussed.
      11. SOWK 4910 Special Topics in Social Work
        (Disability and Society/ Gender and Social Work)
        3 units
      12. SOWK 3048-9 Theory & Practice in Social Work
        (Individual)
        (2,2,1)
        Prerequisite: SOWK 2006 Social Work Intervention and Processes and SOWK 2018-9 Skills for Social Work Practice
        Students who study this course will examine and evaluate the major theoretical perspectives and practice approaches of social case work. Problems and issues in the application of case work will be analysed. Students will participate in a variety of simulated situations and exercises to develop their skills.
    • General Education
      1. English Language 6 units
      2. Chinese Language 3 units
      3. Public Speaking 3 units
      4. Information Management Technology 3 units
      5. Numeracy 3 units
      6. Physical Education 2 units
      7. History & Civilization 3 units
      8. Values & the Meaning of Life 3 units
      9. Distribution Requirements 12 units
      1. TOTAL 38 units
    • Electives 15 units (3 units can be taken from a list of off-campus courses)
      1. SOWK 1016 Social Justice and Social Development 3 units
      2. SOWK 1016 Social Justice and Social Development (3,3,0)
        This course introduces students to the basic knowledge relating to the concept and theories of social justice and social development and their integration in the development field, with particular focus on the local context of Hong Kong. Local cases of disadvantaged communities will be used to illustrate the application of the concepts and theories.
      3. SOWK 3206 Social Dimensions of Health 3 units
      4. Or any electives offered by other departments of the university  
  • Scholarships for BSW Students
    Name Descriptions/ Eligibility No. of Recipients Amount per Recipient
    Ada S.H. Li Social Work Practicum Scholarship Full-time local undergraduate or postgraduate Social Work students with outstanding academic performance, personal qualities and non-academic achievements 15 HK$5,000
    HSBC Social Work Scholarship Scheme Full-time local undergraduates in Social Work with good academic performance and are committed to a career as social workers. 10 HK$25,000
    Kowloon Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Students with good academic performance and financial needs in the School of Business, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, or Department of Social Work. 4 HK$5,000
    Madam Esther M.W. Wong Scholarship Full-time local undergraduate or postgraduate Social Work students with outstanding academic performance, financial needs, personal qualities and non-academic achievements 1 HK$5,000
    Madam Esther M.W. Wong 60 Scholarship Outstanding local undergraduate or postgraduate Social Work students who achieved cGPA of 3.00 or above in the previous academic year, demonstrate strong passion for and great commitment to social work and have financial needs. 5 HK$5,000
    Mr. Ho Chi Wong Memorial Scholarship Year 2 or above undergraduate of Social Work with outstanding academic achievements and community services. 1 HK$6,000
  • General Entrance Requirements - JUPAS (HKDSE) Applicants

    Admission to BSW (Hons) is subject to satisfying both the stipulated General University Admission Requirements and the Departmental requirements.

    For Hong Kong students taking HKDSE for admission to BSW (Hons) programme via JUPAS, the General Entrance Requirements are:
    (1) English Language: Level 3
    (2) Chinese Language: Level 3
    (3) Mathematics (Compulsory part): Level 2
    (4) Liberal Studies: Level 2
    (5) Elective: Level 2 in one subject
    Note: The above entrance requirements are subject to revision
    Moreover, applicants with a good academic record, good participation in extra-curriculum activities, strong motivation, clear purposes to study social work, and good relevant voluntary and/or paid work experience will have a better chance for admission. In addition, factors such as values, attitudes, personality, maturity, self-understanding, concern for public affairs, analytical and problem-solving ability are important for admission consideration.
  • General Entrance Requirements - Direct (Non-JUPAS) Applicants: Senior Year Entry

    Senior Year Admission generally refers to admission to year 3 of 4-year curriculum programmes. To provide more study pathways for sub-degree graduates, the University has set up a Senior Year Admission Scheme for eligible candidates to apply. The University does not have specific cGPA or average score requirement. However, as the competition for admission is keen, past entrants on average are with a normalized cGPA of 3.00 or above, or an equivalent average score.

    Unit Requirements
    Below is the recommended distribution of units transferred for applicants admitted to Year 3 of study:
    Course Category Recommended number of units transferred
    Major 15 – 23 units
    General Education 27 - 38 units for AD graduates
    18 units for HD graduates

    * For details of transfer of GE units, you are advised to visit the website of General Education Office:
    http://ge.hkbu.edu.hk/students/exemptions/
    Free elective Remaining units
    Total 51-64 units (or up to 50% of the total number of units in the Programme)

    Summer Programme for Senior Year Entrants
    To alleviate senior year entrants' study load during normal semesters and to facilitate their participation in the exchange programme/ internship training, senior year entrants are invited to enrol in the Summer Programme to be held in July 2015. The enrolment deadline is 30 May 2015. For details, please visit the website at
    http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/ar/summer

    University Admission Requirements/Policies for Senior Year Entrants
    For details of contact, please visit their webpage at:
    http://ar.hkbu.edu.hk/pros/admiss_schemes/nj_direct_admiss_applicants/uni_admiss_req_policies/

  • FAQ
    • Will I be qualified to be a social worker after taking your BSW programme?
      Our BSW programme has been recognized by Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) and graduates can apply for its registration and bear the title of Registered Social Worker (RSW). This registration is the requirement for one to work as a professional social worker in social welfare agencies in Hong Kong. For details, please refer to the website of the SWRB:
      www.swrb.org.hk
    • How different is the BU social work programme?
      All social work programmes in Hong Kong have similar components in their programme design in order to meet the requirement of SWRB. However there are also distinctive features. The Department of Social Work is small but warm. Learning takes place in a close teacher-student relationship through lectures, tutorial groups, seminars and workshops. There is also a custom that senior students would take initiatives to care for the junior students. The sense of community is strong among existing students and social work alumni. Besides, we are probably the first programme to have fieldwork placement arranged in Mainland China.
    • Is there interview for applicants and when will it be held?
      There will normally be an interview for selected students and interviews will normally be held soon after the announcement of DSE results. Non-JUPAS applicants may have the interview at a different date. For details of the application procedures, please refer to the Admission unit of Academic Registry. The University will send out individual notification to selected applicants about the date and time of the interview, which could be either individual interview or group interview.
    • What language do they use in the interview and what would they ask?
      The interview will be conducted in both English and Chinese. Various areas will be covered in the discussion, ranging from personal issues to societal and policy issues. The purpose is to enable us to assess your maturity, analytical ability and communicative skills. We change the questions from year to year and we do not have a fixed set of questions.
    • What was the career Prospect for BU social work graduates?

      Graduates with the BSW (Hons) Degree are qualified to apply as registered social workers (RSW) in Hong Kong according to the Social Workers Registration Ordinance 1997. Graduates with BSW (Hons) degree are eligible to be employed as Assistant Social Work Officers in the Social Welfare Department or in Non-governmental Organizations in Hong Kong. With regard to the 2010 cohort of graduates, up to 95% of our graduates have entered the social work field as social workers. The Department has always committed itself to training committed and reflective social workers for Hong Kong society. More than 900 BSW graduates have graduated since the first BSW programme launched in 1987. Many of our graduates have taken senior positions at various NGOs and the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong SAR Government. The following tables show the profile of the career prospects and achievements of graduates.

      Social work graduates, 2007 – 09

      In the past three years, a total of 139 students were graduated from the BSW (Hons) programme. In spite of the fact that employment prospects have not been promising in Hong Kong, a very high percentage of our social work graduates succeeded in securing their jobs in social service fields. According to the survey report on graduate employment conducted by our University's Office of Student Affairs, over 85% of BSW graduates were employed within 3 months after leaving the University (see the following table). The table shows the employment status of our three most recent cohorts of graduates.

      Number and Percentage of Graduates by Employment Status
      Year of Graduates Community/
      Social Services (%)
      Education (%) Government (%) Commerce/
      Industry (%)
      2007 92.31 2.56 0.00 5.13
      2008 94.87 2.56 0.00 2.56
      2009 87.88 6.06 3.03 3.03
      Information gathered up to 31 December of 2007, 2008, and 2009 respectively.
    • If I have any query, where or who shall I approach for assistance?
      Our Department does not handle in details enquiries directly from applicants with regard to their applications. Academic Registry handles all formal procedures and enquiries about admission. For details of contact, please visit their webpage at:
      http://ar.hkbu.edu.hk/pros/contact_us/