SW0723 - Social Work Knowledge

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This two part module aims to introduce to a range of key knowledge for social work practice before students embark on their first practice learning experience.

In the first part of the module students will consider social work knowledge as this is framed within the Professional Capability Framework. An understanding of the concepts explored here will enhance critical understanding of social work and social policy explored further in SW0726. Students will consider social and psychological factors that impact the lives of service users, with a focus on issues of risk, inequality and development. Diversity will also be explored within this context. Students will learn about the changing social policy context of social work. They will also engage with key topics across the life-course such as risk, resilience and attachment, and how theories and evidence can inform practice.

In the second part of the module students will also be supported to develop their understanding of the detailed application of the law relating to social work practice and the contexts in which it is applied with children, young people and adults. The module examines the interface between the law and social work ethics and values, promoting a rights based approach and considering how the law may be used to promote anti-oppressive practice.

An enquiry based learning approach is adopted, using lectures, seminars, interactive e-learning resources and observations of legal settings. The formative assignment will assess students’ capacity to use knowledge in formulating their response to practice issues, and for the law component the formative assessment involves a range of “self test” or peer testing resources. The summative assignment will comprise a reflective journal which will assess students’ learning, their capacity to apply concepts, and to reflect upon their own life and development, and for the law component a time limited assessment of an unseen paper, drawing on case studies, taken under exam conditions.


• Inequality
o Social divisions e.g. race, class, gender & sexuality
o Social model of disability
o Economic factors and debt
o Inequality in the ‘risk society’

• Risk and development

o The human life-course
o Identify policy context e.g. early intervention agenda, no health without mental health
o Resilience
o Attachment
o Loss
o Disability & complexity

• Underpinning knowledge for interventions

o Family violence
o Mental health
o Protective factors
o Personalisation

• Principles and specific aspects of law for social work

o The social, political and policy context of social work law, its dynamic nature and links to ethics and values
o The role of the Court system and Court procedures
o The tensions, rights, responsibilities and power imbalances in protection and control
o The specific areas of legislation and guidance underpinning social work with all people who use services and their carers and in particular the statutory frameworks for assessment of adults and children


This module aims to offer a broad introduction to the knowledge bases that underpin social work practice with a focus on two core domains:
o This aims to support learners to develop an understanding of social and psychological factors in interpreting situations and a capacity to apply this to social work practice. Students will explore ways of using evidence to inform decision-making and intervention, and draw on techniques for appraising the usefulness of evidence. This will inform their understanding of life span development and understanding of theories for interpreting human development, such as attachment theory.
o This module will enable students to understand and interpret the ways in which the law underpins social work practice. Students will develop a critical awareness of the legal system and its changing nature and be able to identify and apply legal frameworks in respect of all people who use services and their carers. Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of specific areas of legislation and guidance that inform, guide or control their practice. They will develop their understanding of the interface between the law and social work ethics and values, examining how the law may be used to promote anti-oppressive practice.
This module focusses on elements of learning in relation to Knowledge, Diversity, Rights and Social Justice within the Professional Capabilities Framework.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Critically appraise some of the social and psychological barriers which shape human development and well being

2. Critically evaluate knowledge of risk factors and protective factors for human development and wellbeing

3. Critically reflect upon their own life and development, and the way in which their experiences have shaped the way they respond to stressful situations

4. Demonstrate an in depth of knowledge of relevant legislation underpinning social work and social care provision, and an ability to apply this to complex situations

5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the processes involved in the application of social work law

6. Critically analyse the tensions between protection and control when balancing the rights and responsibilities of social work practice within a legal framework




SW0724, SW0725




Lectures will identify social and psychological factors and barriers which can compromise or harm development. They will provide opportunities to guide students in discussing the role of personal histories and social contexts on behaviour and development, and the role of risk and protective factors. The lectures will model making evidence-based claims, and help students draw links between the underpinning knowledge required for intervention, social policy developments and social work values. Students will also have opportunities to hear from service-users and carers in the course of the lectures.

Seminars will provide an opportunity for students to consolidate their knowledge. They will provide opportunities for students to reflect on how to apply knowledge of risk and development in practice to support the wellbeing and resilience of service-users, and in reflecting on their own lives and development. Seminars will also offer opportunities to engage with the views of service-users and carers.

A set of e-learning resources will be available to students, with e.g. exercises to further develop learning in lectures and seminars; test-yourself assessments to help students see how far they are towards meeting learning objectives.

Learning in relation to law is supported by access to lectures, seminars and a workbook to support application to practice situations. There will also be mock exams and peer assessed quizzes.


a. Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

The summative assessment for the module will comprise:

i. A workbook of reflections from students’ reading and other learning and consolidating the material from the lectures and seminars. 1,500 words
(An appendix will comprise a write-up of an interview conducted by the student with an older person, which will serve as an opportunity to learn about growth and development across the life course)

ii. A time limited assessment of an unseen paper, drawing on case studies, taken under exam conditions

d. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale

b. A formative, practical assessment will require students to present their learning and reflection derived from the interview with an older person to peers.

Students will get feedback from the formative assessment tasks such as short ‘mock exams’ and peer marked quizzes utilising the e-LP .The summative assessment of law will be on a specifically designed exam feedback template.

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

Students will receive ongoing verbal feedback in response to their questions and contributions in the seminars. Students will also be able to get automated feedback on their responses to ‘test-yourself’ e-learning resources.

Students will receive verbal feedback in response to their presentation of learning from an interview, and written feedback in response to the summative task, including guidance on further thinking and reading to help meet the different learning outcomes as fully as possible.



Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start January 2021

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