In September 1975, the first students on the BA Social Studies with Social Work began their studies at what was then called Paisley College of Technology, an institution which began in 1897, and went on to become Paisley University. This programme was the first in Scotland to offer the undergraduate degree combined with a professional qualification, the award of Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) by the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work. From its inception, the programme contained a very strong emphasis on placement provision with an emphasis on promoting excellence in practice.
By 1993, the BA Applied Social Studies with Social Work had been restructured into a four years honours programme incorporating the requirements of the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW). This degree later transformed into the BA (Hons) in Social Work.
The university is now known as the University of West of Scotland, following the merger of the University of Paisley with Bell College, Hamilton in August 2007, and it has campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton, and Paisley.
In September 2014, the School of Social Sciences launched its new MSc Applied Social Science with a number of specialisms: Civil Society and Public Affairs; Criminal Justice; Applied Psychology; and Global Social Work and Social Policy.
In September 2016, the MSc in Social Work was successfully launched to augment the existing undergraduate provision.