SW0726 - Social Work Knowledge in Complex Practice

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This module aims to provide students with the necessary specialist knowledge and skills, for effective and research informed social work practice, with adults and children, young people, their families and carers. There will be a particular focus on social work where risk and professional judgement are involved.
Students will consider the concept of safeguarding across the life span with reference to different service-user groups and the specific issues associated with these. Students will develop an understanding of the interplay between relevant legislative and policy frameworks including specific reflection on ‘lessons from practice’ and the development of decision making frameworks and interagency working practices. Questions of professional power, individual choice, methods of engagement and communication and the use of frameworks for social control will be considered. Students will explore the theories relating to the personal/professional interface and its impact on safeguarding practice.
A mixture of lectures, group work, case studies and digital devices will be used in teaching. Visiting lecturers from different professional backgrounds will contribute to the teaching and enhance the inter-professional links to practice. People who use services and their carers will contribute to the teaching learning and assessment of the module through direct and indirect methods of involvement. Seminars will have a range of formative assessment opportunities which will lead to verbal and written feedback from peers and tutors.
The summative assessment has two component parts. The first component, a group presentation, will enable students to enhance their skills in collaborating with a small group in developing and participating in a presentation relating to the identification of risk and social work intervention. The second component part will be an individually written assignment which will allow students to demonstrate their appraisal of the evidence underpinning key aspects of the presentation.


Books and Reports

Archambeault, J. (2009) Reflective reader social work and mental Health. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Carr, S. & Dittrich, R. (2008) Personalisation; A rough guide. London: Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Cohen, B. (2008) Mental health user narratives. Basingstoke: Palgrave

Connolly, M., Crichton-Hill, Y. & Ward, T. (2006) Culture and child protection:
Reflexive Responses, London: JKP .

Department for Children, school and families (2010) Working together to safeguard children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. London: The Stationery Office.

Department of Health (2008) Transforming adult social care. London: The Stationary Office.

Fauth, R., Jelicic, H., Hart, D., Burton, S., & Shemmings, D., (2010) Effective practice to protect children living in ‘highly resistant’ families. London: C4EO.

Fook, J. (2012) Social work: A critical approach to practice. London: Sage.

Goodman, A. (2009) Social work and substance misusers. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Mantell, A. (2009) Social work skills with adults. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Munro, E. (2011) Munro Report; A child centred system. London: The Stationary Office.

Pritchard, J. (2008) (ed) Good practice in safeguarding adults: Working effectively in adult protection. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Smith, R. (2008) Power and social work. London: Palgrave.

Tew, J. (ed.) (2005) Social perspectives in mental health: Developing social models to understand and work with mental distress. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Journal Articles

Beresford, P., Croft, S., and Adshead, L. (2008) ‘”We don’t see her as a social worker”: A service user case study of the importance of the social worker’s

relationship and humanity’, British journal of social work, 38, pp.1388-1407.

Daniel, B. (2010) ‘Concepts of adversity, risk, vulnerability and resilience: a discussion in the context of the 'child protection system’’ Social policy and society 9(2)pp. 231-241.

Manthorpe, J., Rapaport, J. & Stanley, N. (2009) ‘Expertise and experience: people with experiences of using services and carers’ views of the Mental Capacity Act, 2005.’ British journal of social work, 39, pp. 884 – 900.

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.

Parton, N. (2008) ‘Changes in the form of knowledge in social work: From the
“social” to the “informational”’, British journal of social work, 38, pp.253-269.

Seddon, D., Robinson, C., Reeves, C., Tommis, Y., Woods, B. & Russell, I. (2007) ‘In their own right: Translating the policy of carer assessment into practice.’ British journal of social work, 37, pp.1135 – 1352.

Electronic Resources
Adamson, J. & Templeton, L. (2012) Silent Voices: Supporting children and young people affected by parental alcohol misuse http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_619


The syllabus will include core themes:
Approaches to critical thinking and decision making in social work
Concepts of safeguarding: managing rights, risks and dilemmas
Being accountable: statutory roles and responsibilities e.g. engagement, assessment and appropriate intervention
Critical appraisal of factors that impact on well being and outcomes
Using evidence to inform professional judgements and outcomes in relation to key risk indicators such as domestic abuse, substance use and mental health
And specific knowledge domains, including:

Children and young people
? Children living away from home
? Adoption
? Parenting and power in families
? Communication and observation
? Ecological perspectives on well being
? Child development
? Abuse and neglect
? UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

? The impact of disability: stress and vulnerability
? Communication strategies with people with vulnerabilities
? Assessing capacity and acting in best interests
? Support planning, and risk management: balancing choice and independence
? Safeguarding adults: key roles and using authority
? Professional practice approaches and interventions


This module builds on learning from SW0723 and aims to address the Professional Capability Framework with specific reference to underpinning knowledge for social work.
This module will enable social work students to extend the necessary specialist knowledge and skills for effective social work practice. It will build on and extend students’ critical understanding of models and methods of assessment, including factors underpinning the selection and analysing of a range of information from different sources. The module also aims to encourage students to integrate theoretical perspective and research into the design and implementation of effective social work intervention, especially when risk and professional judgements and decision making are involved.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Critically evaluate concepts, theories and knowledge involving effective social work roles, responsibilities and intervention
2. Critically appraise evidence based research on professional judgements and decision making in relation to current statutory and policy requirements
3. Critically appraise effective and evidence based interventions with children and adults while analysing complex issues of risk assessment and management, safeguarding and individual rights
4. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of user and/or carer perspectives in relation to social work processes
5. Work well with others, while communicating effectively in both written and verbal form
6. Integrate social work values of choice, independence and well being into effective social work practice


SW0723, SW0724, SW0725






Students will be expected to build upon their initial academic and practice learning to inform and promote their critical understanding and analysis of statutory social work roles and relationships with service users and carers.
There will be a range of learning and teaching methods employed including lectures, seminars, visits to services, use of digital devices, group work and discussions. Extensive use will be made of Serious Case Reviews to identify and analyse the issues faced in frontline practice when services have failed vulnerable individuals. Seminars are expected to be student led using the following approaches: directed reading and critical analysis of international and national research, integrating the perspective of service users and carers, supporting the involvement of frontline practitioners on relevant topics, extensive use of the e-learning portal. People who use services will be involved both directly and indirectly in student learning and teaching.


a. Summative assessment and rationale for tasks
Key principles of the assessment in this module include ongoing participation in a developing case study and that will enable structured tasks to be built into the students’ learning on a regular basis. This will inform the formative assessment for the module and underpin the summative assessment tasks.
It is anticipated that the learning opportunities afforded by the tasks will be of benefit in direct social work practice and in improving employability, as social work agencies are increasingly using presentations as part of their selection process. Both parts of the assessment must be passed.

i. Students will work in small groups to develop a group presentation about the identification of risk and the social work response in relation to a case study. This will have a 50% weighting for the module.

ii. An individual written assignment. This will focus on the appraisal of evidence underpinning the presentation. The task will require a high level of written analysis, the ability to articulate and evidence key judgements, and interventions. 2,500 words. This will have a 50% weighting for the module.

These tasks will allow the student to demonstrate depth and breadth of knowledge and will offer the opportunity to develop key professional skills in collaboration with colleagues.

b. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale
A key element of the module will be to encourage and support students to develop and direct their own learning. A case study will be used as a tool for developmental assessment.
Giving and receiving feedback will be an important feature of this module and this will enable students to enhance their individual presentation skills and also contribute to the learning of others. This will also be of relevance to the development of essential social work skills. Specific group work tasks relating to the development of the presentation for summative assessment will give students the opportunity to discuss and elaborate on their plans for their linked assessed work.

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning
Tutors and peers will provide verbal feedback on the formative presentations.
Task i. presentations will not be marked anonymously (as students are identifiable)



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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