SW0618 - Critical Research Project

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This module is focused on production of an evidence informed report on a topic relevant to social work practice. This is with a view to enhancing employability in a range of settings where project planning and evaluation would be required. Learning and teaching is focussed on planning for and supporting production of the report. Formative assessment and feedback are offered by peers, practice educators and dissertation supervisors.


Books and Reports

Adams, R., Dominelli, L. and Payne, M. (2009) Practising social work in a
complex world. London: Sage

Banks, S., & Barnes, D. (2005) ‘Getting started with a piece of research/evaluation in social work’, in R.
Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.) Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 237-250.

Brown, H. (2005) ‘Carrying out research in social work’, in R. Adams, L. Dominelli
& M. Payne (eds.) Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.251-263.

Brown, K., & Rutter, L. (2006) Critical thinking for social work. Exeter: Learning
Matters Ltd.

Carey, M. (2009) The social work dissertation: Using small-scale qualitative methodology. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.

Charmaz, K. (2006) Constructing grounded theory; a practical guide through
qualitative analysis. London: Sage Publications.

Corby, B. (2006) Applying research in social work practice. Maidenhead: Open
University Press.

Dominelli, L. (2005) ‘Social work research: contested knowledge for practice’, in R.
Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.), Social work futures; crossing boundaries
transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.223-236.

Gomm, R. (2004) Social research methodology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hardwick, L. and Worsley, A. (2011) Doing social work research. London: Sage.

McLaughlin, H. (2007) Understanding social work research. London: Sage.

McLaughlin, H. (2009) Service user research in health and social care. London:

Newman, T., Caldwell, A., Tierney, S., Ellis, A. (2005) Evidence based social work:
a guide for the perplexed. Lyme Regis: Russell House.

Patton, M. Q. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Inc.

Orme, J. and Shemmings, J. (2010) Developing research based social work practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Paley, J. (2006) ‘Evidence and expertise’, Nursing enquiry 13(2), pp.82-93.

Shaw, I., & Gould, N. (2001) ‘The Social work context for qualitative research’, in I. Shaw, & N. Gould (eds.) Qualitative research in social work. London: Sage Publications Ltd., pp.14-31.

Silverman, D. (2006) Interpreting qualitative data. 3rd edn. London: Sage

Whittaker, A. (2009) Research skills for social work. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Journal Articles

Humphries, B. (2003) ‘What else counts as evidence in evidence-based social
work?’, Social work education, 22, (1) pp.81-91.

Fook, J. (2002) ‘Theorising from practice; towards an inclusive approach to social
work research’, Qualitative social work, 1(1), pp.79-95.

Graneheim, U. H., & Lundman, B. (2004) ‘Qualitative content analysis in nursing
research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness’, Nurse
education today, 24, pp.105-112.

Hancock, H. C., & Easen, P. R. (2004) ‘Evidence-based practice—an incomplete
model of the relationship between theory and professional work’, Journal of
evaluation in clinical practice, 10(2), pp.187-196.

Houston, S. (2001) ‘Beyond social constructionism: critical realism and social
work’, British journal of social work, 31, pp.845-861.

Labaree, R. (2002) ‘The risk of "going observationalist": negotiating the hidden
dilemmas of being an insider participant observer’, Qualitative research, 2(1),

McDonald, A., Postle, K., & Dawson, C. (2008) ‘Barriers to retaining and using
professional knowledge in local authority social work practice with adults in the
UK’, British journal of social work, 38, pp.1370-1387.

Orme, J., & Powell, J. (2007) ‘Building research capacity in social work: Process
and issues’, British journal of social work, 38, pp. 988-1008.

Electronic Resources
http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/knowledgereviews/kr07-summary.pdf (SCIE
Knowledge review 07: Improving the use of research in social care practice)
http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/researchresources/rr02.asp (Systematic reviews: case studies of user involvement)
http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/index.html Social Policy Research Unit


The curriculum will include:
? Planning, design and management of a research project
? Principles of research design
? Ethical and practical issues in collection of evidence
? Reporting and analysis of findings
? Writing for a range of audiences


This module builds upon learning in SW0416 and SW0512 and aims to support learners to move from an understanding of research and enquiry and the relationship between evidence and action to application of this knowledge to developing their own research project.
The module aims to consider how to frame questions, design research, find evidence and systematically analyse, evaluate and apply relevant aspects of current professional knowledge to the practice setting. This will be with a particular focus on the range of research based knowledge that might inform practice, and critical application of research knowledge from different domains.
This module is the final part of the thread which scaffolds learning in relation to evidence and critical reflection in the Professional Capabilities framework.


On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Apply imagination and curiosity to practice issues and recognise how research based evidence might inform practice
2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of research methods, including research ethics, and use research critically and effectively to sustain and develop practice (QAA Benchmark for Social Work 5.8)
3. With support gather, rigorously question and evaluate the reliability and validity of information from different sources
4. Know how to formulate, test, evaluate, and review hypotheses in response to information available at the time and critically appraise how this might inform judgements in practice
5. Demonstrate a capacity for logical, systematic, critical and reflective reasoning and apply the theories and techniques of reflective practice
6. Produce a good quality and well presented substantial practice report on a topic relevant to social work practice


SW0507, SW0508, SW0509, SW0510, SW0511, SW0512






The module will build upon the knowledge base acquired during previous modules in this thread. Lectures on key topics and seminars before students embark on placements and on recall days will support preparation for carrying out practice projects. Discussion with practice educators will also support learning. All students will have an allocated dissertation tutor to support preparation of the work.


a Summative assessment and rationale for tasks
Production of a structured critical research report gathering and applying a range of evidence in relation to a practice issue. This is an authentic assessment aimed at enhancing skills for employability in a range of contexts where practitioners might be required to engage in project design and evaluation. 6000 words

b. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale
Formative assessment will take place in seminars before the commencement of practice learning by way of feedback from seminar leaders and peers, and from dissertation supervisors during later stages of the work

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning
Verbal and electronic feedback from peers and tutors will help students develop their work



Course info

UCAS Code L502

Credits 40

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time

Department Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020 or September 2021

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