HomeProgrammesHealth & WellbeingBachelor of Social Services

Bachelor of Social Services

Level 7

Would you like to work in social services? Do you want to work in the community, disability or mental health and addictions support sectors?

UCOL students sitting and interacting at UCOL Whanganui campus
Quick info

Level: 7

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 3 years full time, or longer if part-time

04 Mar 2024 - 22 Nov 2024

Domestic Fees: *
Y1: $7,224.00 Y2: $7,063.00 Y3: $6,061.00

Scholarship info

International Fees:*
$25,000.00 + Student Services Levy $591.00

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

The UCOL new Bachelor of Social Services will provide you with specialist knowledge and skills to gain employment in a variety of areas such as community/social services worker, disability support advocate, mental health advocate, navigator or case manager.

Working with people is a core component of this degree and will give you an understanding of how social and community dynamics can impact individuals, families and groups of people. The programme will provide you with learning opportunities that include face-to-face, simulation/role play, group work and work experience. At the end of the programme you will have the confidence to work in the community to create change. 

 Career & Study Outcomes

On successful completion of this programme you will be able to carry out a range of social services associated with:
  • Social Service agencies
  • Community agencies
  • Mental Health and addiction agencies
  • Local and Regional Councils
  • Whanau Ora agencies
  • Government agencies
  • Employment overseas
  • Non-Government organisations
Learners who wish to study further can take up advanced programmes in social services. 

Please note that you will not become a registered social worker upon completing this programme. 

 Course Information

This programme consists of 360 credits. 


Personal and Academic Effectiveness (15 Credits)
Gain academic, reflective and self-management skills needed for working as an effective professional in social services.

Cultural Competence I (15 Credits)
Develop an understanding of the diverse states of well-being and normality by exploring concepts of identity, culture, values and beliefs.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Ethics and Law (30 Credits)
Gain awareness of social justice through the lens of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and international, customary, and New Zealand legal frameworks.

Applied Communication 1 (15 Credits, 25 hours work experience)
Develop the skills to communicate in an effective, safe and professional way within collaborative relationships in the context of social services in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Human Development (15 Credits)
Develop theoretical knowledge of social psychology and human development, in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Primary & Community Care Workforce (15 Credits)
Develop an awareness and understanding of the external factors and strategies that influence the development of an integrated workforce, focussed on achieving sector goals and outcomes.

Diversity and Social Inclusion (15 Credits)
Develop knowledge of social construction of self and the concepts of social justice and social change and how this impacts relating to others.


Applied Communication II (15 Credits)
Integrate group work theory and practice and demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to facilitate groups based on the presenting needs of the group.

Safe and Ethical Practitioner (15 Credits)
Develop the knowledge and skills to become practitioners who are able to make safe and sound ethical decisions for those at risk.

Research for Social Services (15 Credits)
Develop an informed understanding of research paradigms and methodologies, and the current uses and practices of research within their chosen specialty area of social services.

Addictions, Substance Use and Co-existing Problems (15 Credits)
Develop an understanding of substance use, addictions and co-existing problems and culturally appropriate responses for helping people address these problems.

Cultural Competence II (15 Credits, 24 hours of work experience)
Further develop knowledge and skills necessary for working with Māori in social services, disability support and mental health and addiction contexts.

Theory for Practice I (choice of Social Services, Mental Health, Addiction or Disability Support) (15 Credits)
Develop and articulate a theoretical value base for their practice and select and apply models, tools and skills suitable for social services, disability support, addiction practice and/or mental health recovery in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Integrated Practice I (choice of Social Services, Mental Health, Addiction or Disability Support) (30 Credits, 150 hours of work experience)

Integrate theoretical and practical learning to become reflective practitioners who are able to work in a way that is values-based, safe, informed and intentional in social services, disability support, addiction practice and/or mental health contexts.



Communicating with Families/Whānau and Communities (15 Credits)
Develop an understanding of the theoretical approaches and their associated models and practical skills for working with families/whānau and communities, especially in the Aotearoa New Zealand context. The influence of family/whānau and community in relation to client work in the practice domains of social service, mental health, addiction and disability support will be explored through reflective and experiential learning.

Applied Social Issues and Social Policy (15 Credits)
Critically examine how issues are addressed through social policy and social service provision in the Aotearoa New Zealand context.

Socially Responsible Leadership (15 Credits, 50 hours of work experience)
Develop and consolidate knowledge, skills and strategies that will enable team, community development and leadership in social service contexts.

Practitioner Inquiry (choice of Social Services, Mental Health, Addiction or Disability Support) (15 Credits)
This course provides an opportunity for learners to undertake a systematic review of and report on a relevant body of research material relevant to social services, disability support, addiction practice and/or mental health work.

Theory for Practice II (choice of Social Services, Mental Health, Addiction or Disability Support) (30 Credits)
Develop and consolidate a robust, congruent and integrated theoretical framework drawing on a range of theory, models and tools which are appropriate for practice across the social service, disability support, addiction practice and/or mental health contexts of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Integrated Practice II (choice of Social Services, Mental Health, Addiction or Disability Support) (30 Credits, 200 work experience hours)
Preparing you to become work ready, apply a robust and integrated practice framework, a critical understanding of contemporary issues and a proactive attitude within social services disability support, addiction practice and/or mental health contexts.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Learning Facilities

From 2023 our nursing, medical imaging, social services, and healthcare ākonga will be learning in Te Whaioranga, the purpose-built healthcare education centre for UCOL Manawatū. This state-of-the-art learning environment enables our nursing, medical imaging, social services and healthcare ākonga to learn across disciplines and functions, familiarising them with real-world practices and ensuring they become ‘workforce ready’ graduates.

 Domestic Entry Requirements

General Admission Criteria
All applicants must meet the general admission criteria as approved by the Academic Board.  In addition, all applicants are required to:

  • Declare any previous criminal convictions (including international convictions) prior to admission being confirmed. Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Portfolio Manager (APM); and
  • Authorise UCOL Te Pūkenga to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency. If a conviction and/or a matter of concern is identified, the decision for accepting the applicant's enrolment onto the programme is at the discretion of the APM and
  • Authorise UCOL Te Pūkenga to obtain a background check in accordance with the Children's Act 2014
  • Provide a curriculum vitae
  • Provide two referees from persons of standing in the community who are not friends or relatives and who can attest to the applicant's academic and personal suitability for social services education
  • Complete a Health Declaration Form; and
  • Provide certified copies of all relevant documentation.

The APM may require students to provide additional information before admission is confirmed.

Applicants under 20 years of age:
Applicants under the age of 20 years must have University Entrance


Equivalent academic achievement


Successful completion of New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4)


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean


Provisional enrolment, which is defined by NZQA as being Discretionary Entrance and includes the following clauses:

Discretionary enrolment may be granted to those applicants under the age of 20 who:

  • are a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand or Australia*, 
  • have received secondary schooling to at least New Zealand Year 12 level (or its equivalent overseas) and earned at least 14 credits in an approved subject at Level 2 towards NCEA (or its equivalent), and 
  • have met the literacy and numeracy standards required for University Entrance, or their equivalents, 

* Australian applicants' most recent year of schooling must have been in New Zealand.

Applicants 20 years of age or over
A person having reached the age of 20 years before the first day of the programme in the year for which admission is sought, is not required to meet any of the academic qualifications above. Applicants will be required to meet the criteria for enrolment to study social services and will be required to attend a meeting, as set out in the advice and guidance section, prior to their enrolment being accepted. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss their career goals, reasons for study, choice of study, possible challenges, and the support that is available for them at UCOL.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international learner applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 6.0 with no band score lower than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

Applicants must meet academic, health, and good character minimum entry requirements to be offered enrolment in the programme. These requirements are explained in greater detail under Domestic Entry Requirements, and International Entry Requirements. The evidence and supporting documentation required for application is explained in those sections.

Applicants will need to participate in a personal interview with UCOL staff to undertake further evaluation of the application and applicant attributes, to decide selection of learners. UCOL staff use an evaluation framework to rate individual attributes against specified minimum criteria. 

The fieldwork placement components of the programme are provided by community agencies and employers. Any applicant conviction history could prevent an agency being able to offer placement. It is very important that anyone interested in applying who has a conviction history (or pending conviction) speaks with the APM as soon as they become interested in enrolling, even if they have not applied yet.

Applications will be evaluated and interviews held according to the date order in which they are received. Applicants meeting all of the entry criteria will be offered an enrolment position according to the same date order.

The number of new enrolment places may vary from year to year depending on government funding, and fieldwork placement positions, so early application is encouraged.  

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Te Pūkenga Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • A completed Police Declaration Form
  • A completed Health Declaration Form
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs

There is no additional cost associated with this programme. However, learners may have to pay for the travel and accommodation costs related to the placement.


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning Limited, a business division of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.