Programme overview

Are you concerned about inequality and social justice? Develop the knowledge and skills for a career in social and community work and enhance your understanding of social analysis and social change processes.

You’ll learn about psychology, mental health and risk assessment, furthering your knowledge of community development and developing an awareness of Maori, Pacific and other ethnic cultural practices.


  • A professional qualification which prepares you for a career in a wide range of social, community, disability, mental health and education services.
  • Become eligible for the best jobs with a qualification registered by the Social Workers Registration Board.
  • A critical focus on inequality and social justice.
  • Use of narrative ideas in social practice.
  • Emphasis on the practical application of theory: in Years Three and Four, you will apply what you’ve learnt during a work placement in a social work or community development organisation.
  • Flexibility: elective courses enable you to plan a course of study which builds on your interests and experience.

Courses for first year students in 2015 include

  • Enquiry and Communication
  • Foundations of Collaborative Practice
  • Whanau/Family and Social Practice
  • Inequality
  • Ripene Tahi
  • Talanoa
  • Contemporary Issues in New Zealand Society
  • Fields of Practice

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. A minimum of 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher on the National Qualifications Framework, with 14 credits at Level 3 or higher in each of two subjects from an approved subject list, with a further 14 credits at Level 3 or higher taken from no more than two additional domains on the National Qualifications Framework or approved subjects plus a minimum of 14 credits at Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau on the National Qualifications Framework, plus a minimum of 8 credits at Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori; a minimum of 4 credits must be in Reading and a minimum of 4 credits must be in Writing; OR
  2. At least 3 ‘C’ passes in the New Zealand University Bursaries Examinations; OR
  3. Successful completion of the Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies: Whitinga Level 3 with a relevant pathway, where appropriate;OR
  4. Certificate of University Preparation (Level 4); OR
  5. Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 4); OR
  6. Equivalent

Special Admission

Applicants must have: 

  1. Attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence; AND 
  2. Have provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a potential successful outcome in the qualification. 

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language Requirements
Applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in Reading, 4 in Writing).

English language requirements for international students

Applicants must have at least ONE of the following:

a) Gained NCEA level 3 and met New Zealand university entrance requirements;

b) Clear evidence that they satisfy one of the following criteria for existing English proficiency:

  1. Previous primary and secondary study in English as evidenced by completion of one of the following at schools using English as the language of instruction:
    1. Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13), or
    2. Completion of at least five years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13)
  2. Previous tertiary study in English: clear evidence of completion of a tertiary qualification of at least three years’ duration with English as the language of instruction in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
  3. Achievement of the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)

c) Achieved, within the preceding two years, at least one of the English proficiency outcomes listed below:

  1. NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL) (Academic) (Level 4)
  2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5
  3. An overall TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) score of 550 (essay 5 TWE) OR an overall TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) Score of 60 (writing 20)
  4. First Certificate in English (FCE) with a pass at Grade B OR Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) with a score of 52 or higher under the Cambridge International standard tests of English as a foreign language
  5. Pearson Test of English PToE (Academic) with a score of 50
  6. City & Guilds Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages (IESOL) B2 Communicator with a score of 66.

Existing English Language Proficiency
Applicants may also provide evidence of satisfying one of the criteria for existing English proficiency as specified by the NZQA. For more information please visit the NZQA website.

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

To be admitted to this programme, all applicants must meet the following requirements in addition to the requirements set out in the Bachelor Generic Regulations:

Specific Admission

Applicants must:

  • Course/programme applicants will complete a self-declaration of criminal conviction(s) and any medical condition(s) that may prevent full participation in the programme and/or prevent registration with regulatory authority (as applicable); and
  • provide names of two independent persons who will provide confidential references for the applicant; and
  • provide a curriculum vitae and a personal statement indicating their motives for applying for admission to the degree; and
  • provide evidence of computer literacy through the achievement of a level 3 computer course or equivalent; and
  • have a current full drivers licence (NZ licence or acceptable international equivalent, subject to exemption on grounds of disability) prior to commencing CSTU7922 Social Practice Practicum 1 in Year Three; and
  • Course/programme applicants will sign a consent form allowing a Request and Consent Vetting form. Any applicants with undeclared convictions identified will be referred to the Admissions Committee.

English Language Admission Requirements

All students, international and domestic, for whom English, Māori or NZ Sign is not their first language should be able to produce an IELTS score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6.5 or a TOEFL score of no less than 575 or equivalent.

Exempted from IELTS examination are:

  • EAL applicants who have studied in New Zealand for a minimum of two years at secondary school, and who have eight, level 2 NCEA literacy credits (4 credits in reading, 4 in writing);
  • Applicants whose medium of instruction was fully in English in a New Zealand or Australian tertiary education organisation and who are graduates at degree level 7 or higher.

Courses and timetables

Compulsory courses

Fields of Practice (CSTU5163)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course provides an introduction to the organising constructs for social practice with a focus on the major fields of practice. It will consider the major features of each field of practice including key knowledge required, approaches to practice, and issues facing practitioners in that field.
Whanau/Family and Social Practice (CSTU5165)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces students to the form and function of whanau and families in Aotearoa New Zealand society, as well as exploring the nature of the forces shaping family in the contemporary context, including intersecting issues of gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and disability. The student will have opportunities to apply this analysis to their own family context, and will be introduced to specific issues around children and youth.
Foundations of Social Practice (CSTU5166)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces students to three principal approaches to social practice and to the theoretical framework of narrative practice within the context of a bicultural Aotearoa. The course will enable them to acquire a basic experiential introduction to effective relationship skills when working with individuals and groups in diverse practice environments; and develop student reflexivity around awareness of their own personal history, bias and values and how this impacts on practice. Students will have opportunities to extend and demonstrate core academic literacy skills.
Ripene Tahi (CSTU5167)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To introduce students to basic te reo Maori (Maori language), tikanga Maori (cultural values and protocols), and to explore the implications of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relation to the historic and contemporary cultural and socio-economic development of Maori.
Talanoa Pasifika (CSTU5168)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces students to Pasifika approaches to social practices by exploring the development of Pasifika communities in Aotearoa. This will enable students to negotiate a mutually beneficial relationship of partnership and collaboration with Pasifika Peoples, particularly when working with Pasifika communities.
Contemporary Issues in Aotearoa New Zealand (HSDV5140)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course examines the influences of cultural, social, political and environmental factors in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Enquiry and Communication (HSDV5142)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces the principles of communication, knowledge construction, and academic literacy and develops scholarly skills in preparation for academic and professional practice
Human Development (HSDV5143)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course provides an understanding of the processes and influences on lifespan development. Developmental and communication theories are considered in relation to the developing individual from the time of conception to old age and death.

Elective courses

Working with Migrant and Refugee Background Families and Communities (CSTU5164)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course explores the history and development of migrant and refugee communities in Aotearoa New Zealand and the immigration policy context in which they have developed. It affords migrant and refugee background students with a learning opportunity to validate their lived experience and insider knowledge as members of migrant and refugee communities and families in Aotearoa within models of social practice suited for working with migrant and refugee communities;
Working with Communities (HSDV5145)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course provides students with an opportunity to develop an awareness and understanding of the ethnically diverse and complexities of communities and the key influences and issues that can affect them.
Healthy Societies and Communities (HSDV5152)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course provides students with an opportunity to integrate political, social, cultural and environmental factors which may influence health and well-being with models and examples of health promotion involving community development in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tauhokai Waiora (HSDV6241)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces students to Maori epistemology and ontology, priorities and policies relating to health promotion and (social) youth development in Maori communities.
Human Rights, Social Justice and Advocacy (HSDV6242)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course provides students with the opportunity to have an in-depth understanding of human rights and advocacy and the application of these within the health and social development fields of practice as agents for change.
Growing Our Youth (HSDV6248)15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course enables students to critically engage with challenges involved in identification of, and responding to, the needs of the growing young person. Required is the development of effective: communication skills for youth work, case management including risk management, working in a range of cultural contexts e.g. bicultural, multicultural.