Department of Social Care

School of Health, Sport and Food

Welcome to our Department of Social Care

Thank you for taking the time to come and check out what we offer at University College Birmingham, the highest ranking university in the region as voted by students at the 2023 Whatuni Student Choice Awards. Our student support is award-winning too, as is our provision for international students.

If you are looking at joining us to carve out a career in social care, here is a glimpse into our student and staff community - with insight into the placements and enrichment we offer - to see if we are right for you. 

Find out about our Whatuni awards

Debbie Hocknull
Head of Department of Social Care

Welcome from Debbie Hocknull

It's great to see you have applied to study with us. And that you've chosen a subject that leads to a career that is much, much more than just a job.

During your degree and on graduation, you will help individuals rebuild and turn their lives around every day, often working with some of the most vulnerable, challenging and complex individuals in society, who are also the most resilient, courageous and inspiring people you will ever meet. 

All our health and social care lecturers have vast experience in the sector, ranging from a criminologist to youth and community workers, a drug worker, midwives, a mental health nurse and family support managers. This really helps to give you a unique insight into the sector and link theory to real-life practice. We look forward to welcoming you in September!

*Debbie worked in primary and secondary schools as a learning support practitioner and as a health and social care and curriculum coordinator within an inclusion unit 

Find out more about Debbie

“This is a university with incredible facilities and student-centred staff. And that includes myself – you are always welcome at my informal ‘Talk with the Dean’ sessions, your chance to say what’s going well and what we can improve on.”

Dr Anne Coufopoulos Executive Dean, School of Health, Sport and Food

Stephen Garvey
Deputy Dean (Teaching, Learning and Digital)
School of Health, Sport and Food

Meet Stephen Garvey  

My role is to ensure we stay at very forefront of progress across the education sector and across industry, building innovative technology and skills such as immersive virtual reality into your educational experience.

We are committed to providing face-to-face teaching as we know students value this quality time with their lecturers and fellow students. But to support your academic studies, we also have a sophisticated lecture capture system that provides accessible recorded lectures, where possible.

We are very proud of the exceptional and sustained record of teaching excellence we have in the provision of our vocational educational experiences, and the future-focused curriculum we have to offer you.

*Stephen is a registered dietitian with a background in research

Read more about Stephen

Our teaching and learning

In our teaching, our aim is simple - to turn you into a stand-out professional. Since we launched our degrees in health and social care, we have earned a reputation for the highest quality courses and a learning experience that sets us apart from bigger universities.

Our degrees are designed to develop you personally and professionally, with graduate advantage, employability and enrichment sessions threaded throughout the curriculum, sitting alongside really interesting theory modules. Our partnership with the University of Warwick, a top-ranking Russell Group university, also brings extra opportunities including access to guest speakers and additional resources.


Our courses are developed and taught by experienced lecturing staff, who have worked on the frontline and in strategic roles in heath and social care. This means they can draw on their expertise and years of experience to make scenario-based discussions, debates and concepts come to life, supporting the linking of theory to practice.

You will learn so much from our lecturing teams, who are passionate about their profession and eager to inspire and nurture the next generation of health and social care professionals.

We also have many invited guest lecturers and service users from practice participate in our courses, sharing their knowledge and experiences to enhance your learning.

Students also have a lot to bring and as a team, we will also learn a lot from you! We encourage you to share your perspectives and viewpoints, especially when reflecting on your own life and placement experiences.


The course has a strong emphasis on employability, with vocational placements part of each year of study, directly linked to modules and their assessment. This culminates in a final year vocational project to really enable outstanding practice with service users to be highlighted and rewarded, the perfect springboard to paid employment. We also have excellent training facilities to put theory into practice.


Our support is exceptional, so much so, our students voted to make us the winner of the Student Support award at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022.

Throughout your studies, you will not only have a personal tutor, but a link tutor during placements and module leaders to support you through academic modules. And we have a whole range of additional support services available, providing you with as much or as little support as you need to succeed in your degree. Our smaller teaching groups enable all students to grow and flourish, with strong peer support and friendship.  

Our Learning and Teaching Strategy 2021-24 is key to how we approach the educational journey, focusing on three main pillars that set out our commitment to your learning and teaching experience while you are studying with us.

  • Pillar 1 – Provide accessible and inclusive teaching and learning across a wide range of vocationally-led courses
  • Pillar 2 – Develop next generation opportunities and skills through innovative, future-focused curriculum and pedagogy 
  • Pillar 3 – Shape local and global sectors, promoting sustainable futures and global citizenship

Read our Learning and Teaching Strategy

Learning facilities

Our university facilities were shortlisted in the 2023 Whatuni Student Choice Awards and include excellent learning environments: 

  • 100-seat and smaller lecture theatres
  • Workspace pods
  • ThinkSpace glazed study pods to discuss projects 
  • 150+ brand new top-spec computers

Find out more about our facilities

We look forward to seeing you on campus

As you prepare to join us, here's a refresher on some of the essentials:

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