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Study plan - Bachelor, Social Educator

Autumn 2024

The bachelor’s degree in social education is a professional knowledge-based and practice-oriented undergraduate degree programme in the field of health and social studies that qualifies students for professional practice in the health, care and welfare services, all from a life cycle perspective. The programme ensures that students acquire the competence and mindset required to ensure equality for all members of society through the provision of such services.

The candidate gains competence in understanding special needs and the societal conditions that create disabilities. The candidate acquires specialist competence in milieu therapy, habilitation and rehabilitation, health promotion and healthcare. The candidate also gains competence in regard to people’s complex needs and developmental disabilities.

The programme of study provides students with the competence to work with users, relatives and other service providers and contributors to the sector in order to promote self-determination, participation, mastery, health and quality of life in various contexts and cultures.

The programme aims to equip society with candidates who have the necessary specialist competence to ensure that people with special needs have the same opportunities for personal development and self-expression as the rest of society.

Upon completion of the programme, the candidate will have a high degree of ethical awareness and strong intercultural communication and cooperation skills and will be able to work in a goal-oriented and systematic manner in order to offer services based on critical and innovative thinking.

The bachelor’s degree offered at HVL is a full-time programme of study totalling 180 credits spread over three years for the full-time programme or four years for the part-time programme.

Upon completion of the programme and receipt of the qualification, those who participated in the authorisation scheme will be granted authorisation (cf. § 48 in the Act relating to Health Personnel etc. (Health Personnel Act)).

The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree programme in social education is grounded in the Regulations for the common framework plan for health and social studies programmes and the Regulations for the national guidelines for social educator training.

Suitability Assessment
The education has a suitability assessment. The purpose is to determine whether students pose a possible danger to the vulnerable groups they come into contact with during their education or in future professional practice. Ongoing assessment of all students takes place throughout the course. A separate customs assessment must take place if there is reason to doubt whether a student is customs. A student who is not in good standing can be banned from education for up to five years, and cannot receive a diploma. Etiquette assessment is regulated by the Universities and Colleges Act § 12-3, and the Etiquette Regulations (regulations on etiquette in higher education). For more information, see the Suitability Assessment page on HVL’s website at https://www.hvl.no/student/skikkavurdering/

Learning outcomes

A candidate who has completed his or her qualification should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:

The student...

  • has broad knowledge of communication, interaction and cooperation
  • has broad knowledge of the work involved in milieu therapy, habilitation and rehabilitation
  • has broad knowledge of the relationship between health, special needs, disability and illness from an individual, societal and life cycle perspective, across various contexts and cultural understandings, both nationally and globally
  • has broad knowledge of inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination
  • has broad knowledge of research methods, principles and concepts for assessing scientific quality

The student...

  • can apply specialist knowledge in order to critically discuss their own work processes and the different models relating to the work of a social educator
  • can apply relevant methods in relation to the mapping and preparation work required to identify targets and the needs of users as a basis for determining which measures to implement
  • can apply specialist knowledge that will contribute to ensuring good public health through their work involving health promotion and illness prevention on the basis of a life cycle perspective
  • can apply up-to-date knowledge of the health and welfare system, laws, legislation and guidance in their own professional practice in order to ensure equality and professionally responsible services for recipients
  • can apply specialist knowledge, relevant results from research and development work, and scientific methods as the basis for solving practical and theoretical issues and for making justified decisions (in professional practice)

General competence:
The student...

  • has insight into the relevant specialist and ethical dilemmas relating to the social educator’s professional practice and can identify, reflect on and handle these in their provision of the service through professional discretion
  • has insight into the theories, processes and methods required to provide coordinated, contextual and knowledge-based milieu therapy, habilitation and rehabilitation
  • can plan, implement, document and evaluate responsible healthcare in cooperation with users and other professionals, grounded in respect for the dignity and needs of the individual
  • can disseminate specialist points of view and experiential knowledge related to the rights of people with disabilities in order to contribute to the self-expression and equal societal participation of people with special needs
  • can plan and implement new ways of thinking and service innovation in order to contribute to systematic and quality improvement work processes in cooperation with users, relatives and other service providers and actors


The practical placement provides a method of learning in which the student participates in various professional situations and practice communities. The student receives training by observing individual situations as a source of new knowledge and thus has the opportunity to reflect on their own, as well as on others’, actions within the profession.

Through these practice periods, the student gains experience in the profession and the skills to collaborate with various users and practitioners. At least one practice period must consist of a work placement with people with developmental disabilities.

Under the supervision of an experienced professional, the student learns through observation how theory and practice are mutually connected and interdependent in professional practice. Through reflection in conversations with their supervisor and peers, the student develops an awareness of their own personal conduct and how this can affect their interactions with others in their professional practice.

Most importantly, the supervised practice helps ensure that the student develops sensitivity to the signals of users and their reactions to the student’s own actions, and therefore enhances their ability to correct their work on the basis of these responses.

The social education programme of study utilises the practical placements provided via the Western Norway Regional Health Authority (Helseregion Vest). The university organises the practical placements. Students can apply for facilitation of the practical placements in line with the Regulation relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL). See chapter 7-6 on Facilitation for supervised professional training placements.

Students must obtain their own housing and pay for their own travel expenses during the practice period. Some of the expenses are covered by the applicable regulations.

The practical placements are compulsory. The programme of study consists of 300 hours of active user-oriented work for the practical placements. The university strives to ensure a consistent distribution of hours throughout the practice period. 90% attendance is required of students and cannot be waived due to illness (cf. Regulations relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)).

The scope of practice for the programme is 25%.


Work on developing digital learning resources and other student-active learning methods are carried out continually for every course on the programme. The teaching and learning methods used on the programme include lectures, seminars, group work, workshops, simulations, supervision, presentations and more.

The learning process is reinforced through participation, self-study, collaboration, problem-solving, practical placement preparation and the practice placements themselves. The programme requires students to work independently on both theoretical and practical work. The choice of work methods is adapted depending on the aim of the various components of the programme and prepares students for what will be required of them in the field of practice.

Students learn to write various types of texts. Through the written assignments, they are trained in the use of techniques for finding knowledge, processing literature and structuring and disseminating knowledge.

Written assignments are delivered via Canvas. Assignments are screened for plagiarism.

40 working hours per week are expected on this programme.


Assessment refers to all formal testing required for the programme, which is listed in the individual course plans. The forms of assessment ensure that the student has acquired the necessary qualifications to practise the profession and demonstrate that, through completion of the programme, the student has achieved a satisfactory level of expertise. The forms of assessments and required prerequisite knowledge are further described under each individual course.

The student must pass the compulsory learning activities before they can sit the exam or attend the practical placement (cf. Regulations relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL).

The forms of assessment used in this programme of study include written examinations, take-home examinations, assignments, portfolios, project-based oral examinations, practical examinations and practical placements.

Assessments are either graded as pass/fail or graded on a scale from A to F where A to E are pass grades and F is a fail grade. Practical placements are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

All practical courses consist of two parts. Both must be passed for the course to be marked as completed.


Students have the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme during the 5th semester. Students can choose whether to spend a semester studying abroad at a foreign university or to take other international courses.

The department benefits from cooperation agreements applicable to the degree in social education with the following institutions:

• Australia | University of the Sunshine Coast, James Cook University, Griffith University

• Denmark | University College Lillebælt

• USA | Augsburg University, California State University Monterey Bay

• Bolivia | Colegio Jesus Maestro

• Finland | South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, ARCADA Polytechnic

• The Netherlands | Inholland University of Applied Sciences

• The UK and Northern Ireland | University of the West of England, Bristol

• Tanzania | Kiwakukki Centre Moshi, Amani Centre Morogoro, Elimu Mwangaza, Mehayo Centre, Muhimbili National Hospital

• Germany | University of Applied Sciences Mittweida

Crossing Borders is an international cooperation initiative between the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), Mittweida University of Applied Sciences in Germany, Inholland University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, University of Southern Maine in the USA, Odissee University of Applied Sciences in Brussels in Belgium and the University of the West of England in Bristol, the United Kingdom.

Crossing Borders consists of two theoretical courses: “General Part” and “Ways to Improve Participation”.

“General Part” is delivered on campus in Bergen, while the course “Ways to Improve Participation” is conducted via student-led teaching in which students work together, across borders, via weekly video calls. The students agree on common research questions. The students then carry out their own field work/interviews, analyse the data and compare the results between the different countries. Each student group is supervised by tutors from the different universities.

The courses offered through Crossing Borders are delivered in English and are also offered to incoming foreign exchange students.


The programme consists of 13 courses in five competence areas, which include:

  • Profession, ethics and cooperation
  • Milieu therapy work, habilitation and rehabilitation
  • Health promotion and healthcare
  • Inclusion, participation and rights
  • Critical thinking, knowledge-based practice and innovation

In this programme of study, the practical placement serves as a vital learning arena. Each year of study includes 10 weeks of user-oriented practice. Each practice period includes practical preparation and a follow-up summary of the practical placement. The practical placements enable the student to increase their understanding of the relationship between research, theory and experiential knowledge.

Internationalisation has been facilitated in this programme via a mobility opportunity, practical placements abroad, exchange programmes, elective courses and on-campus courses that include an international element.