Social Work
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Graduate Attributes


Graduates from the Department of Social Work exhibit the follow overarching and programme specific attributes:

Overarching attributes

  • Thought leaders

Graduates are informed opinion leaders in social work and social development. They are trusted practitioners, owing to the soundness of their integration of theory and practice, and the high level of their academic knowledge, practice skills and positive attitudes. They are able to positively influence and inspire others with innovative ideas, and turn ideas into reality as agents of change.  They are curious, lifelong learners who think critically and creatively, and who use systematic methods of enquiry in knowledge development and problem solving. They have enquiring minds, are open to new, diverse ideas, are willing to draw on the wisdom of the past, and engage with new ways of knowing and doing. They derive the best from international and established ways of knowing, as well as from indigenous, local, lay and underrepresented knowledge sources. They appreciate the interconnectedness of different knowledge sources and systems, and are able to process ideas and information individually and in teams.

  • Engaged citizens

Graduates engage and understand how to contribute and collaborate as members of the community, team and organisation. They are able to take care of themselves and exercise care for others. They have the ability to take on leadership roles in social life and as members of civil society at various diverse levels. They are able to fulfil a variety of roles in society and in practice, depending on specific contexts. They appreciate local and national connectivity and are aware of the value of interaction on a global level.

  • Well-rounded individuals

Graduates value and nurture their physical, emotional, spiritual as well as intellectual wellbeing. They are able to take informed decisions and act as problem solvers in diverse contexts. They are acquainted with diverse cultures, and experienced through practice education and academic encounters on how to engage appropriately and with sensitivity. Their curriculum and co-curriculum during the course of their studies offered opportunities for them to develop applicable and various social and individual dimensions, as well as intellectual and affective dimensions suited to professional practice.

  • Dynamic professionals

Graduates are able to apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes gained at University, in the workplace, community and beyond. They take initiative and are aware of the potential power of linking social interventions to a dynamic process of economic development. They appreciate the importance of and adherence to  ethical behaviour and how to apply it in practice. They are effective in evidence-based service rendering and utilising of resources. They harness their strengths, as well as the strengths of others. They have the capacity to apply and communicate knowledge, as well as sustainable and effective use of technology in various community, organisational and professional settings. They are able to communicate professionally in oral, written and digital forms on various levels of service delivery.

Programme specific attributes

Graduates will:

  • be able to understand and critically analyse both the South African and the global welfare context;
  • understand the major social needs, issues, policies and legislation in the South African social welfare context and the social worker's role and contribution within statutory frameworks;
  • have the ability to implement the social development approach in social work services;
  • understand human behaviour and social systems and possess the skills to intervene independently and sustainably at the points where people interact with their environments in order to promote social well-being;
  • be able to provide social work services in a variety of welfare settings according to social work perspectives, theories and models towards protecting people who are vulnerable, at risk and unable to protect themselves;
  • be able to promote, restore, maintain and enhance the functioning of individuals, families, groups and communities by enabling them to accomplish tasks, prevent and alleviate distress and use resources effectively;
  • be familiar with the ethical code of conduct of the social work profession and hold personal beliefs consistent with social work values and the principles of human rights and social justice, while interacting with and assisting people across the range of human diversity.
  • be able to challenge structural sources of poverty, inequality, oppression, discrimination and exclusion;
  • be able to function effectively in a multilingual context;
  • be able to work effectively within supervisory groups, including social work teams, multi- and inter-disciplinary teams as well as multi-sectoral teams;
  • be able to manage, supervise and fulfil a leadership role in the social work profession and society as responsible and critical citizens in a democratic dispensation;
  • be equipped for autonomous lifelong learning;
  • be able to identify social problems in social work practice settings,   create new knowledge and improve practices through the process of research and inquiry and will use information technology effectively in a range of contexts.​​​​​