(Original post by jellybeanjen)
I'm a current social work student, albeit on the MA course rather than the BA, so I'll try my best to answer your questions.
I've had a very quick browse online (literally 5 mins lol) to see what you meant about the A Level points and the only place I spotted that has an entry requirement as you've described is Chester:
"A minimum of 240 - 260 UCAS points, of which 220 - 240 points must be obtained from GCE A Levels, including a grade C in one subject."
In this case, this would mean they want at least 220 - 240 points to come from full A Levels (so CCC or CCD), and the remaining 20 - 40 points can come from your AS Level. Generally if places specify they want points from A Level or equivalent, this means they will not accept points from AS Levels.
Many universities ask for a social science at A Level (e.g. Psychology, Sociology, Politics). This would provide a useful base for studying social work and would help you to give examples of theories, legislation or areas of study that apply to social work for your personal statement. However, not all universities require this. A more important aspect of social work applications is relevant work experience with children, the elderly and other groups that social workers have involvement with. Universities like to see that social work applicants have some experience that they can apply to the course.
Interviews vary from university to university and may involve a written test, group interview and/or individual interview. There are lots of threads on here and over at the Community Care website forums about social work interviews and the types of questions that are asked, so I would suggest you do a search for those. I had a written test and a group interview. We were given a choice of questions for the written interview relating to different issues in social work (the one i did was about anti-discriminatory practice) and had to write a 40 minute essay trying to bring in theory, policy and legislation. I don't know if this would be as harsh on the BA/BSc courses; a lot of older students apply for the MA so they can be outof practice on writing essays and also a much higher academic standard is expected of MA students. In the group interview, we spoke a little about our work experience and were asked what we thought the relevance of research is in social work. We had been given a newspaper article relevant to social work to read before the interview and then had to discuss it as a group. In a group interview, they're not just looking at what your answer is but how you communicate with others - body language, not talking over people, eye contact, synthesising what other people have said into your points and so on.
Social work has become a very popular course over the last few years. I'd say that this is partly to do with the fact that you get a bursary to study it which is handy when fees and living costs are going up and partly to do with people seeing it as a vocational degree where you'll be guaranteed a job when you're finished (yes it is vocational, but jobs for newly qualified social workers are tough to come by). Offers are harder to come by because of this, and courses fill up quicker than they used to so get your application in early
! To give you a little idea, when I applied for my MA in 2009, I managed to get a place in July to start in September; in 2011, the course was full much earlier and the number of applicants had increased three or four-fold.
Personally, I have found the last two years studying social work really tough but definitely worth it. You're constantly learning new things academically and in practice and trying to marry the two together. There's also so much self-reflection involved - what didI do well, what could I do better, if I were in that service user's shoes what would I want, am I allowing my own prejudices into my work, maybe I could have explained that in a more child-friendly way etc etc etc - and I've picked myself to pieces more than I ever thought possible. I've worked some great people on my course who've supported me and challenged me, and some interesting service users on placement who I've really grafted with to see results. There are modules that have really interested me and others that haven't so much. Make sure you look at the different modules available when you're applying to see if what that uni offers is really for you. Placement is such a big part of the course and it's important not to underestimate how hard it is to balance going to uni and doing academic work with going into placement and working at least a 9 - 5 most days of the week. I seriously cannot wait to qualify now and get out there into practice and do the job I've been training to do for what feels like an eternity!
Sorry if that's a bit of a ramble. Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll try my best with them. Also, once you've got a draft PS, I'll be happy to check it through on the PS forum.