B.A. in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care)

CAO Code



NFQ Level 7

200 - 434

Places Available



3 Years

Course Fees

Why Study This Course?

Practice Placements

Over 800 hours of supervised Practice Placement in Years 2 and 3 with dedicated preparation and support

Accredited Course

Qualification approved by CORU (professional regulator)

Employment Opportunities

Numerous graduate employment opportunities on completion of Year 3 (Level 7)


The B.A. in Applied Social Studies (Major) is a 3-year, Level 7 programme validated by Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI). This degree provides education and training for professional Social Care Work, is approved by CORU, and is offered on a full-time basis.

CORU approved (Professional Accreditation)
The BA in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care) has been approved by the Social Care Workers Registration Board as attesting to the standard of proficiency required for registration for Social Care Workers in Ireland. This means that the programme content and structure equips you for employment in a wide variety of care sectors as a registered professional. These include child and family work, residential child care, residential and day support services for people with disabilities, homelessness and addiction support services, and in other services that provide support for individuals and groups who experience exclusion or marginalisation.

A balance of theory and practice
Social Care is a practical, hands-on, relationship-based profession. This programme provides you with the knowledge, practice-learning experience and skills to enable you to function as competent, reflective and accountable professional practioners in the Social Care field. CORU define Social Care Work as follows:

‘Social Care Workers are professional practitioners engaged in the practice of social care work. Social care work is a relationship-based approach to the purposeful planning and provision of care, protection, psychosocial support and advocacy in partnership with vulnerable individuals and groups who experience marginalisation, disadvantage or special needs. Principles of social justice and human rights are central to the practice of Social Care Workers.’ (CORU 2019).

We will work with you as you explore theory and develop your understanding of Social Care practice. You will also gain practical social care skills when working with experienced professionals during the two mandatory 13-week block placements in Year 2 and 3, this will ensure that theory, and classroom work is relevant and useful for social care practice.

What can you expect to learn?
Understanding how individuals and society as a whole function is examined through subjects such as sociology and psychology. The actions of government and public administration in addressing the needs of vulnerable groups are explored in the legal studies, politics and social policy modules. Skills for professional practice are developed in the more practical modules of communications, creative studies and counselling skills. You are introduced to the roles and responsibilities of the professional Social Care Worker in our series of professional practice and ethics for social care modules.

The knowledge and practical skills you develop will provide you with the building blocks needed to embark on a challenging but highly rewarding career. Social Care Workers are vital in our increasingly complex society, and you will be part of a valued and important profession.

What happens after Year 3?
On successful completion of Year 3 you will have the option of progressing to our add-on Level 8 BA (Honours) year. This will broaden the scope of your understanding of social care theory and practice, and further develop your problem solving and analytical skills and now includes an Employability module that focuses on being ‘job-ready’. The award of B.A. (Hons) in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care) from Carlow College is widely recognised as producing graduates who are work ready, emotionally mature and capable of taking on leadership roles.

Contact Programme Director Dr John McHugh for further information or with queries about taking on some stage 1 modules through ACCS.

Year 1

All mandatory modules

Semester 1 Semester 2
  • Communication and People Skills
  • Creative Studies: Exploring Creativity
  • Introduction to Academic and Digital Skills
  • Introduction to Professional Social Care
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Creative Studies: Arts and Social Care
  • Psychology and the Developing Self
  • Disability in Social Care: A Human Rights Based Approach
  • Sociology, Interculturalism and Cultural Competence
  • Introduction to Irish Social Policy & Politics
  • Principles and Practice of Professional Social Care 1
  • Year 2

    All mandatory modules

    Semester 1 Semester 2
  • Practice Placement and Portfolio 1
  • Creativity, Innovation and Play in Social Care
  • Ethics for Social Care
  • Group Dynamics & Facilitation
  • Legal Studies for Social Care 1
  • Principles and Practice of Social Care 2
  • Social Psychology for Social Care
  • Access Practice Education Portal here

    Year 3

    All mandatory modules

    Semester 1 Semester 2
  • Children and Families: Social and Legal Perspectives for Professional Social Care
  • Communication and Counselling Skills
  • Contemporary Issues in Social Policy
  • Psychology of Mental Health
  • Principles, Professionalism and Practice of Social Care
  • Research Methods and Evidence Informed Practice
  • Practice Placement and Portfolio 2
  • Access Practice Education Portal here

    BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care)

    Add-On Year

    Semester 1 Semester 2


  • Advancing Practice: Social Care Work with Children
  • Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Research and Dissertation 1
  • Equality and Diversity and Sustainable Development
  • Management and Leadership: Theory and Practice
  • Electives(Choose 1)

  • Advancing Practice: Youth and Community
  • Advancing Practice: Working with Older People
  • Inequality, Crisis & Change: Sociological Perspectives
  • Creativity & Digital Media Skills
  • Mandatory

  • Advancing Practice: Social Care Work with Families
  • Professional Development and Employability Skills
  • Research and Dissertation 2
  • Quality Management in Social Care
  • Electives(Choose 1)

  • Advancing Practice: Advocacy with Marginalised Groups
  • Advancing Practice: Health Promotion and Community Social Work
  • Community Arts
  • The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality
  • The BA in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care) equips students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to work in a variety of social care contexts. There is a growing demand for Carlow College Social Care graduates who are recognised as being prepared to meet the complex needs of children and adults who use Social Care supports and services. Employment opportunities exist in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in a variety of community-based and residential settings. With the introduction of CORU Registration and Regulation, there will be a requirement for Social Care Workers to be qualified with a minimum level 7 award. Social Care workers typically work with services for:

    • Children in care
    • People with disabilities
    • Marginalised and Minority groups
    • Addiction and homelessness
    • Family support
    • Older People

    Katie Murphy | Project Worker, Peter McVerry Trust

    The placement opportunities available on the Social Care degree open you up to a world of possibilities. My placement co-ordinator supported me in choosing a placement suited to my learning needs and personal interests. Over the course of the two 13 week placements, I gained invaluable practical experience ,that has enhanced my development as a professional. I completed my 3rd year placement in the Peter McVerry Trust and eventually went on to complete their graduate programme after my degree.
    I am currently a Project Worker in Kerdiffstown House, a new one-of-a-kind service for the Peter McVerry Trust. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the opening team who are setting up and running the service.
    My role as a Project Worker involves carrying out health and safety checks, risk assessments, relationship building with residents of the service, key-working with assigned key-clients, support plans, the day-to-day management of aresidential service i.e. cleaning and cooking, conflict resolution, managingchallenging behaviour and administration.
    Social Care as a profession is both rewarding and challenging. It is diverse in its nature and I appreciate that no two days are the same. This makes it a stimulating career.

    The placement opportunities available on the Social Care degree open you up to a world of possibilities!

    Kim McCann | Social Care Worker, Autism Initiatives

    I had always been interested in going into a caring profession and when I finished school I decided Social Care would be a good choice for me. I choose Carlow College because it was a smaller college compared to other institutions. After only finishing secondary school I found it a bit daunting leaving my school friends and starting my new journey. On my first day of college, I found it really easy to chat to people and during the first few weeks I kept seeing familiar faces, which I liked.
    Carlow College is a small friendly college. Everyone knows everybody’s name. The support I received from lecturers was phenomenal throughout the four years. I really enjoyed the diversity of modules. I went out on placement twice throughout my degree and I found this hugely beneficial as it allowed me to get a sense of the different areas to work within Social Care. The highlight of my time in Carlow College was learning so much about all the different aspects of Social Care through the many different modules and gaining amazing friendships that I will carry with me for life.
    I currently work as a Social Care Worker in a residential unit in Stillorgan, South Dublin. I work with adult males with Autism and Schizophrenia. I support them in their home and community on a daily basis. Our main goal is to promote independence in the community.

    Carlow College is a small friendly college. Everyone knows everybody’s name. The support I received from lecturers was phenomenal throughout the four years.

    Darragh Fitzpatrick | Outreach Social Care Worker, Tusla Child and Family Agency

    Why Social Care?
    Following a number of years in different employments, I had commenced voluntary work in a homeless shelter and found it to be very rewarding. Therefore, after a little research I decided to pursue ‘people work’ as a career i.e. social care.

    Why Carlow College?
    Carlow College really appealed to me because of its personal feel and welcoming atmosphere. Obviously, the fact that the college was renowned for their programmes in social care was a key factor.

    What did you enjoy most about the programme?
    I enjoyed the variety of subjects offered especially sociology, social policy and psychology.
    Practical work placements was crucial in allowing the student transfer the theoretical elements of the programme into a variety of social care work environments.
    Additionally support from individual lecturers was invaluable in terms of clarification, their professional experience and general guidance.

    What did you find challenging about the programme?
    My biggest personal challenge was entering third level education as a mature student. The practice placement element of the programme was also a significant challenge, but one that I really enjoyed.

    Why should people pursue a degree in Social Care?
    The decision to pursue a career in social care is a very personal one and one that I feel offers a real opportunity for growth, knowledge and fulfilment. The variety of settings within social care as a whole will offer its own challenges and rewards.
    However it must be noted that social care is certainly not all ‘sunshine and roses’ as it can be extremely stressful and personally challenging on many fronts. With regard to this, it is essential that social care workers are afforded support, guidance and regular supervision as caring for oneself is key in terms of caring for others.

    How did your experience at Carlow College help you find your first position upon graduation?
    I took up employment with the HSE on foot of my final college placement.

    What are you doing now?
    I am an Outreach Social Care Worker working with the community with Tusla Child and Family Agency.
    Our service receives referrals primarily from the Social Work Departments with a small number of Meitheal referrals under the PPFS (Prevention, Partnership & Family Support Services). Within my work I complete specific interventions with young people ranging from emotional support, substance misuse, self-esteem & personal development to name a few. I work closely with other agencies, parents/carers, foster parents and social workers.

    Amy Fitzgerald | Domestic Violence Support Worker, Teach Tearmainn Women’s Refuge

    Why Social Care?
    I had been made redundant in 2010, and following a period of short-term jobs, I realised that I would have to re-train in order to secure a career. As I was unsure about how to do this, I met with the Adult Guidance Service in Kilkenny. Through meeting with them I was able to identify the areas of my previous work that I enjoyed and identify the areas I would like to increase my involvement with. I realised that I really wanted to work in an area where I could feel that I was “giving something back”. The vast choices of career within Social Care really appealed to me!

    Why did you choose Carlow College over other institutions?
    It was one of the colleges recommended to me by the Adult Guidance Service. I liked that it was a small college that specialises in Social Care. Knowing that I would have increased support from lecturers appealed to me, as did the relatively high volume of mature students.

    How would you describe Carlow College? What are the benefits of attending a smaller third level institution?
    If you want to learn, and you want to work hard, the lecturers are there to ensure that you meet your potential! I felt that I was guided and encouraged at every step of my college journey. As I was entering college as a mature student, my priorities were perhaps slightly different for those in their late teens and twenties, so the fact that it was smaller was an advantage to me. I liked that the lecturers knew my name!

    What did you enjoy most about the programme?
    Weirdly, I loved writing my dissertation! However, I do acknowledge that I would not have found it enjoyable if I had not been taught the skills and discipline to complete it. The placements are incredibly beneficial, even just for highlighting what areas you don’t want to go into.

    Why should people pursue a degree in Social Care?
    Social Care is an ideal career if you have an interest in providing support to people in disadvantaged situations. A social care degree will challenge you and in turn you will learn a lot about yourself. It is a hugely interesting programme that offers insights into an array of social topics including how politics and policy shape our society. Anyone who is interested in challenging themselves. Anyone who has an interest in trying to improve society, even on a small scale. Anyone who has an interest in learning about themselves!

    What was the highlight of your time at Carlow College?
    It has to be being awarded the award for academic achievement at graduation! I have never felt prouder of myself.

    What advice would you offer to people considering to study at Carlow College?
    Do it and make the most of it! Only when leaving college and supporting students from other institutions did I truly recognise the calibre of lecturers at Carlow College. The work that we did, and the way that we were taught is, in my opinion, leagues ahead of some other colleges. It’s small but perfectly formed!

    What are you doing now?
    I am a Domestic Violence Support Worker at Teach Tearmainn Women’s Refuge. I provide support to women experiencing domestic abuse. This includes providing one-to-one support, court accompaniment, advocacy, outreach and everything beyond and in between!

    What would a typical day look like for you?
    I work on an appointment basis for clients who are not resident in refuge. I also meet my refuge clients on a daily basis. Other than that, there is no typical day! Each day brings new challenges. Every day is busy.

    Have you worked on any exciting projects since you began working?
    I developed and facilitated the training programme around domestic violence for the staff of Focus Ireland whilst working at the refuge in Waterford. This focused on the barriers and issues faced by women who are homeless due to domestic violence. The MEND Programme has just launched in Kildare, and I have been asked to provide the partner support piece.

    Mary Shiel | Social Care Worker, Lá Nua

    Why Social Care?
    Social Care is an applied course, hence practical elements which are hugely beneficial in terms of gaining experience and confidence in the workplace. I felt my life experiences to date were really advantageous towards this type of course. A Social Care degree is also applicable across a variety of areas so that really appealed to me.

    Why did you choose Carlow College over other institutions?
    When looking into returning to college I quickly became aware that Carlow College is renowned for its standard of education and training from speaking to people. As a mature person returning to education after many years a larger institution did not appeal to me and I would find it daunting. I visited Carlow College before applying and immediately felt comfortable. When I saw the library I felt it would be a privilege to study in such a beautiful space.

    How would you describe Carlow College? What are the benefits of attending a smaller third level institution?
    Attending a smaller college gives you a sense of belonging where you are recognised as an individual. There is an atmosphere of fun and friendship in Carlow College. Where would you experience getting a big plate of buttered toast put in front of you on the morning of an exam where a Canteen staff recognised you looked a little stressed? The beautiful surroundings of the College also helped, Carlow College is a building with character. The library is unique and full of history.

    What did you enjoy most about the programme?
    I felt the academic supports were invaluable. The variety of subjects, modules and the creative way they were delivered made learning interesting and exciting. The lecturers make you challenge yourself in terms of your values and beliefs, which for me was a really positive experience. I feel I gained confidence and got to know myself in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible because of this. As a mature student I could apply my life experiences to much of my class work and felt this was recognised and respected by Lecturers.

    Why should people pursue a degree in Social Care?
    There is such a broad field where one can use this degree and it can be used in any country. It is also a degree which can benefit you on a personal level due to the reflective practice within the modules.

    What was the highlight of your time at Carlow College?
    Undoubtedly the lasting friendships I have made. I was also nominated student of the year on graduating. I felt a huge sense of achievement and a sense of pride in having attended Carlow College. I appreciated the recognition of the work I put in.

    What advice would you offer to people considering to study at Carlow College?
    I would say seriously consider Carlow College. There is nothing that it does not offer in terms of the quality of lecturers and supports, both academic and personal. It is a unique experience to study in Carlow College, where you can enjoy the surrounding atmosphere of the building, beautiful gardens, and the hub of friendly chatter. It is a College suited to any age or gender, where you are treated respectfully and as an individual. In many places I have worked, students from Carlow College are highly regarded due to the standard of education and training they receive.

    What are you doing now?
    I am working in a permanent position for Tusla. I am based in Lá Nua in Kilkenny as a Social Care Worker. I care for and support vulnerable young people in a high-care unit.

    What would a typical day look like for you?
    A typical day would be like any home where young people go about their daily activities; attending school, various appointments etc. They may need extra supports around this. Using my interpersonal skills to build genuine relationships and the theoretical frameworks I studied while in Carlow College to inform my daily practice makes my work interesting and rewarding.

    Minimum Entry Requirements
    Five grade H7/O6 including English, Irish or a foreign language. Mathematics is not required.

    Further information on Entry Requirements and application processes available here

    Fees & Grants
    Information on Fees & Grants can be found here

    Student Testimonials

    Course Contact

    Dr John McHugh
    Programme Director
    The lower number is the CAO cut-off and the higher is the highest points achieved by a student who accepted the course in 2022.