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Teaching Excellence Framework 2023 - Gold Award

BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work

Inspire, encourage and nurture: make a difference to people's lives. Gain real-life experience of issues that can affect young people and their communities. Learn how to build relationships and use your growing expertise to inspire and enable the people you work with.

A group of five relaxed looking teenagers pose for a photo with a mellow evening sky in the background

Great work placement opportunities

Apply now for this course

Full-time Part-time

Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCD or above

Or BTEC triple grades MMP or above

Or Access 3-36 D/M with min 3D

And GCSE English Language at grade 4 or grade C or above

T Level Grade P (C+) A DBS check and an interview is required

Applicants should have sufficient practical experience prior to commencement of the course (i.e. 100 hours).

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and students. All students are expected to share this commitment and demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct.

We will accept 2 AS levels in lieu of one A level but must be accompanied by 2 A Levels or BTECs (General Studies is excluded).

UCAS points 88

UCAS code L530

UCAS institution code P63

Duration Three years full-time

Any questions?

Contact Tara Godber, our Applicant Support Coordinator, if you have any questions. Email and Tara will get back to you.

Course Summary

Through supervised professional practice placements and university-based study, you will learn how to work with young people and the communities in which they live to help them realise their potential. This delicate and expert approach will allow you to build relationships, helping to inspire and stimulate the people you work with to make positive changes in their lives.

BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work will develop your professional identity through your unique placements, theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Placements are a significant part of the course and help you build the professional confidence and skills necessary to make a difference to other peoples’ lives. You can do your placement in three different environments, broadening your skills and experience as you progress. You may choose to do one of your placements overseas, for example, with our partners Helsinki Youth Service.

Each youth and community work student is unique, and therefore brings their own interests and skill sets to the profession. This course is all about fostering students’ individual passions within the field.

Sue: Marjon has just a great history of delivering youth and community work. We've been doing it for over 25 years. The programs really focus both on the taught modules that we have here in the university, and the placement modules that they do. We have some very, very good relationships with employers, which enable us to have a wide range of those placements. Most of our students will go into youth and community work posts, but range of opportunities now has changed incredibly. So we've got graduates in all kinds of different settings, both here and abroad.

Lola: Because obviously it's a small campus, you get the attention that you need, especially the stuff you're struggling with. A lot of the lecturers are very open. They share a lot of their life experience as well.

Ashleigh: The lecturers are all really good, actually. One thing that appealed me to the course is that it's a professionals degree, and all of them are professionals and they've worked in youth work, or still are, so they're really in there with youth work and they know what they're talking about and they've got that skills and experience. They're not just lecturers, they are professionals.

Lola: For me, the best part about this course is placement. I'm not naturally a very academic person, but I enjoy the face to face stuff a lot more. And I think it definitely made me realize that this was definitely an avenue I wanted to go down, whether it was with youth work or community work.

Ashleigh: We've got to do three placements, one every year. I'm in my second year and I'm doing my block full-time placement. So I'm going away for three months in-house in youth department, and that's just an amazing opportunity.

Stella: I'm a drug and alcohol worker with young people. I've been in this role for just over eight years, and I work primarily with young people on court orders. I found the depth of learning at Marjon, what I liked about it the most. I commuted, so I went in specifically for the modules and the classes. And for support from staff and from the resources that were on site. I just really enjoyed the topics that were covered in the modules as well. I found my time at Marjon hugely beneficial for both my personal development, my own learning, and my career, both historically and currently. It's remained relevant to me right throughout. So it's great to have done a degree that's still really relevant to me now.

Why this course at Marjon?

UK and overseas work placements, for example with our partners Helsinki Youth Service

The tutors have personal experience of youth and community work, and are leaders in international research which means the course is informed by the most current thinking

Extensive placements - the equivalent of one year on placements over the three years - help you build the professional confidence and skills to make a difference to other peoples’ lives

Assessed and validated by the National Youth Agency to meet the professional qualification for youth work as set out by the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for youth and community workers

Over 25 years’ experience in training outstanding youth and community professionals

Explore the current debates around how youth and community work is changing so you are ready to go out there and make a difference

Modules for this course

1st Year

Introduction to youth and community work
You’ll explore the nature of youth & community work, its histories, values and process and the many different settings and methods associated with youth & community work practice. You’ll develop an understanding of key concepts such as participation and empowerment and how these are central to informal education.
Interpersonal communication & relationship skills
You’ll explore the elements of effective interpersonal communication and how conversation is used for informal learning purposes. You’ll develop an understanding of communication models, verbal, non-verbal and para-language. You will develop your understanding of personal & professional boundaries and skills in developing trusting relationships.
Engaging with learning
You’ll develop a range of skills that will support your academic and professional development e.g. accessing & using resources, reflective practice, critical thinking and understanding assessment. Working collaboratively around a shared passion you will develop practitioner knowledge and awareness that will support the development of your professional self.
Diversity, inclusion & social justice
You’ll explore the key concepts of social divisions e.g. class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age and religion, and the nature and impact of discrimination. You’ll develop an understanding of the significance of power, language, discourse and inequalities and increase your awareness of your own history, biography and value base.
Issues & interventions
You’ll explore a range of contemporary social issues e.g. health, housing, employment, crime and develop an understanding of the social construction of issues and policy responses. Using an enquiry- based groupwork approach you will create a learning resource for youth & community work practice.
Level 4 professional practice placement
You’ll complete 220 hours of supervised practice in an appropriate setting over a 12 week period and achieve a range of National Occupational Standards. You’ll develop understanding and skills in forming positive relationships and using these to create opportunities for informal learning.

2nd Year

Policy & practice
You’ll explore the political landscape, political perspectives on social policy and the policy making process of the UK, and the construction of the welfare subject. You’ll develop an understanding the role of social movements and community action in challenging injustice and discrimination.
Youth & Community Practice in the Digital World
You’ll explore the concept of continually developing practice in the digital world. A relatively new frontier in terms of youth work spaces in which we will get to grips with concepts of practice, communication and safeguarding as well as understanding the wider implications of digital provisions on community and society.
Developing & leading projects
You’ll develop an understanding of project management and, working collaboratively, use this to design and implement a project. You’ll develop skills in needs assessment, planning, project design and evaluation. You’ll demonstrate creativity, innovation and enterprise as well as team work, conflict resolution, self-management and accountability.
Practitioner research
You’ll develop an understanding of the purpose and practice of practitioner research. You’ll gain an understanding of research ethics and reflexivity and skills in research methods, reviewing literature, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. You’ll be prepared to conduct your practitioner research project.
Level 5 professional practice placement
You’ll complete 360 hours of supervised practice in an appropriate setting over a 10-12 week period and achieve a range of National Occupational Standards. You’ll develop understanding and skills in organising and managing a specific project within the setting.

3rd Year

Organising, leading & managing practice
You’ll explore a range of management and leadership theories and examine how these work in practice. You’ll develop an understanding of the distinctive and changing culture of youth work organisations, including social entrepreneurship, models of social enterprise and social investment. You’ll explore strategic development and leadership and the funding of youth & community work.
Practitioner research project
You’ll explore, through research, an area of your choosing (and appropriate to the course). You’ll develop a critical understanding of a practice-related issue or topic in order to produce a dissertation, and develop your expertise in this area.
Changing practice: current controversies & dilemmas
You’ll explore the range of issues, controversies & complexities which underlie contemporary youth work practice. You’ll have the opportunity to critically assess a current issue, controversy or complexity which underlies your own practice. You’ll develop a critical understanding of the professional role as educator in relation to other professional interventions in the lives of young people and communities.
Level 6 professional practice placement
You’ll complete 220 hours of supervised practice in an appropriate setting over a 10-12 week period and achieve a range of National Occupational Standards. You’ll develop understanding and implementing youth & community work strategy within the setting.
My Professional Identity
In this 10-credit module, delivered over 6 weeks, you will reflect on your experiences on the programme, academic, practical, professional and personal to provide a synoptic account that can be shared with others. A synoptic account gives an overview of your understanding of the major themes you have studied, indicating how your understanding has developed over time. Within this, you will look ahead to the future and consider how you will continue developing as a youth and community worker.

Current students say...

Ania Jackowska

“The course is amazing, and you meet so many brilliant people. I really enjoy the opportunities to work with professionals and learning at university too. I’m developing my skills and my practice. The thing I most enjoy is the debates and discussion that we have in lectures. It is also a practical course, and you get first-hand experience. You learn from leading professionals and the support from lecturers is amazing. I’m more aware, I’m exploring ideas that I hadn’t realised were there.”

Natalie Knight

“I have enjoyed all aspects of the course so far and I have been able to produce work which I am proud of. I’ve been taught how to write academically and I’ve realised that reading around the subject increases your knowledge, which has given me confidence in both my work and placements. The lecturers are extremely helpful and aid you to achieve to your highest ability.”

Sally Wise

“Taking time to understand and explore why a person behaves in a certain way and how to react to this is something I explored throughout my degree. I am more confident in my own professional judgement and feel confident in managing and supervising volunteers. My three years at Marjon saw me grow as a person, and due to the support received from my lecturers, I leave feeling ready to take on new challenges.”

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

Is it more difficult being a teenager in the 21st century?

Are we really ready to listen to young people?

Are young people a cause of concern or a hope for the future?

Is society scared of or scared for communities in crisis?

What does the future look like to a 13 year old?

Have you got what it takes to make a difference?

I didn’t think I would ever go to Uni, the tutors were really good in giving me the confidence to go on and I did well, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Uni gave me the language to be able to have this job. Five years ago I’d never have thought I could have this job and that’s what’s going to Marjon gave me.
Carin Laird - Barnardos

See where our graduates are now

Sonya Williams

“I am over the moon to be working in community work, paid to do a job I dreamt of. I am working at the place I most enjoyed in my university placements, with a team of dedicated people who are proud to help homeless and vulnerable young people. My university placements showed me policy and procedure in action and I engaged with ‘the real world’ of community support. I can only convey my gratitude to my lecturers and peers to thank you for all your help. I would not have done it without you.”

Sonya is an Early Intervention Worker for The Zone.

Beth Cunningham

“As a mature student returning to education, I had little experience with working with young people. The course helped me develop many skills and increased my knowledge base, which helped me gain employment. Hands on experience and learning in placements throughout the course really prepared me for a career in youth work and allowed me to see just what the work entails. Supportive lecturers helped me develop my abilities and increased my confidence.”

Beth is a Professional Youth Worker for Plymouth City Council.

Stella Allen-Dobson

“I support young people to improve their overall health by reducing problematic drug and/or alcohol use and associated harms. The work is diverse, no two sessions ever the same. What I love most is building the rapport and therapeutic relationships critical for the meaningful work to take place and improve wellbeing and future outcomes. The degree has given a solid foundation to all of my practice and vital understanding of the theory behind the dynamics of therapeutic relationships.”

Stella is an U18’s Drug and Alcohol Worker.

What might you become?

The jobs market has changed significantly over the past few years and these are exciting times for graduates from this programme as the range and scope of employment opportunities has never been so diverse.

Opportunities exist across the sectors, in voluntary and charitable organisations, in the public sector, for example children’s services, schools and colleges, and in the private sector.

Recent graduates have forged careers in a range of settings including: school inclusion projects and alternative curriculum projects, in youth offending teams, in youth projects and detached projects, in housing and advice agencies and in housing projects.

Carin: So, my name is Carin Laird and the course I did was the BA Honors in Youth and Community work. So, I currently work for Barnardos. I work for the child sexual exploitation team. So, I work in a very different way to the way I've worked historically. So, youth work is normally quite informal, it's about young people, helping them to make informed choices. In that sense, my role is very different. A lot of young people are forced to work with me, it'll be part of their child protection plan. There are two of us that are youth workers in the team, and we work with around about 15 young people each at any one given time. Aged between 10 to 18, who are extreme high risk of, or currently experiencing, child sexual exploitation. So for that reason, they tend to be on child protection plans and they come to us either just before they go to child protection or just after.

So we make part of a multi agency team that supports that young person. For me, it's all about the one to one work. You can have a really bad day, and then your last session of the day will be a young person and they just let you know they've made a really healthy choice, and it can be something as simple as not running away last night, not self-harming last night, not taking an overdose last night. And you get that real buzz and you think, "Yeah, this is what it's all about. Nevermind the paperwork that I'm going to be up to really late doing." It's that sort of stuff.

I was a mature student going back. I had a job, I had to work financially. Even if you took away those barriers, I would pick Marjon now, I would pick it again, if I was 18. Uni just gave me the confidence I needed and like I said, I didn't think I'd ever be able to go to uni, and in that first semester, I remember getting out of my little Dictaphone in my first ever lecture, putting it on, thinking "I can't miss a word. If I miss a word, I'm going to fail, be thrown off the course. They're going to realize I don't belong here." And I can say the tutor was really good at giving me the confidence to carry on. And I did well. It's one of the things, other than my children obviously, and my husband, it's one of the things I'm most proud of. I came out with a first and that was just such an amazing feeling.

I'd worked really hard and got that. And then since then, it's kind of like with all that theory, I can now sit in meetings, whereas before I'd go along to a meeting and I was just a youth worker. Now I am a youth worker, I'm not just, I can hold the same academic conversations, use the same language as other professionals and not feel intimidated or undervalued in a way that I maybe did before. I'm not sure if that was a confidence thing, but uni certainly gave me the language to be able to have this job and the understanding of the law, and like I said, all that theoretical stuff that you, well you're sitting in class, you're thinking "Really? Really?" But actually underpins everything we do.

So going to Marjons opened so many doors. I was able to apply for jobs that I hadn't been able to apply for before because of the qualification, the JNC. And five years ago, I'd have never have thought I could have ever had this job. So that's what going to Marjons gave me.


National Youth Agency (NYA) logo

National Youth Agency

This course is assessed and validated by the NYA to meet the professional qualification for youth work, as set out by the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC).

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

The course has an extended academic year of three terms, enabling modules to be taught in a way that paces the assessment and learning load and allows students to develop skills without feeling overwhelmed. Teaching usually consists of one full day on campus, generally 6 hours a week, split between lectures and activity-based seminars, with some online study and 1-2-1 tutorials that can be arranged to suit the student’s needs, with a timetable to fit around other life commitments, like work and childcare. 

Three professional practice placements totalling 800 hours take place in up to three different settings and are supervised by professional practitioners. In the final year, the practitioner research project enables students to specialise in an area of their choosing.


How will you be assessed?

Assessment methods are based on coursework (essays, reports reviews), presentations and the production of placement files that include reflective practice and self-assessment. Professional practice is assessed against the National Occupational Standards.

Tracy Hayes, lecturer at Plymouth Marjon University

Dr Tracy Ann Hayes

Course leader

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Tracy is excited to be leading this innovative and collaborative programme that supports the development of youth and community professionals across the south-west region.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £14,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more


Dr Tracy Ann Hayes

Senior Lecturer & Post Graduate Research Coordinator for the School of Education, Programme Lead for Youth & Community

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Tracy joined Plymouth Marjon University in September 2022, from the University of Cumbria, where she lived and worked for 10 years. Prior to this, she was based in the Midlands, where she was employed as training manager for an association of youth clubs. Her doctoral research creatively explored the relationship that young people have with the natural environment. She has published for public, practitioner and academic audiences, including BERA (British Educational Research Association) and IOL (Institute of Outdoor Learning). Tracy has a diverse range of practical and professional experiences through working in and researching with the voluntary and statutory sectors. She loves walking, gardening, reading – and playing outdoors. 

Professor Jon Ord


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Jon worked for 20 years as a youth worker before joining Marjon in 2003. He brings his knowledge and commitment to youth work to his teaching and research. He is particularly interested in the impact of policy on practice as well as theory and practice of youth and community work, as well as outdoor education. In 2018 Jon led a major research project into the value and impact of Youth Work on the lives of young people in Europe.

Robert Reynolds

Associate Lecturer

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I have been a practicing youth and community worker for 25 years. I started my youth work career as a volunteer and over the years worked my way up to full professional practice and management. 

I spent most of my time working in the Voluntary/Community Sector where I developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that the sector, successfully navigating the continually changing professional landscape.

My various roles required me to develop skills in project management, staff management and development, professional supervision, funding management, and partnership working.

More information

Five recent placement examples:

  1. Livewire - students work alongside experienced staff working with young people through music.
  2. SpaceShot - students experience centre-based and detached youth work in deprived areas.
  3. All Saints Academy - youth work in a formal education setting, supporting and mentoring young people.
  4. Seymour House - working with young people who are excluded from school or who are at risk of exclusion.
  5. The Zone - students experience working in Information & Advice; offering young people emotional support and information around issues such as housing, sexual health and mental health.

Apply now for this course

Find out more about studying BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work at Marjon

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