SW0741 - Social Work Knowledge

What will I learn on this module?

This two part module is designed to introduce to a range of key knowledge for social work practice and develop your ability to become an analytic and reflective practitioner before you embark on your first practice learning experience.

In the first part of the module you will consider social work knowledge as this is framed within the Professional Capability Framework (PCF). An understanding of the concepts explored here will enhance critical understanding of social work and social policy explored further in module SW0744. You will consider social and psychological factors that impact the lives of service users, with a focus on issues of risk, inequality, diversity and human development. Your learning will engage with key topics such as resilience and attachment, and how theories and evidence can inform practice and facilitate problem solving in complex practice situations.

In the second part of the module you will be supported to develop a critical 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.

How will I learn on this module?

An enquiry-based learning approach is adopted, using lectures, seminars, interactive e-learning resources Lead lectures will be offered by specialist researchers, practitioners and lecturers and are designed to develop knowledge during the initial stages of your professional development. Seminars will provide the opportunity for group work sessions with other students creating an authentic learning experience and providing the opportunity for critical analysis of issues and concepts in social work practice. The module has two summative assessment elements. The first is an assignment which will assess your understanding of human development across the life course and the nature of risk across different age groups. The second assessment for the law component is a time limited assessment of an unseen paper, drawing on case studies, taken under exam conditions.
You will be offered formative feedback from your peers and seminar leaders during seminar sessions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The module begins with an introduction to its content and structure and a briefing to explain the context, aims and expectations of the work required for a successful outcome. Explored as part of the module introduction is how it contributes to the overall programme with a particular focus on the module aims, learning outcomes and assessment strategy. The provision of lectures and seminars are the key means of offering academic support to you as well as providing a reflective space for you to explore the more nuanced and complex areas of practice you will experience when qualified. These sessions will support you to recognise and debate the key skills, approaches and attributes expected of you on the programme. You will be encouraged and supported to have the confidence to engage in discussion and constructive critique of your own and others work in a safe environment.

Feedback and feedforward to guide future work will be provided through group work sessions throughout the module. These will also support you to generate material, debate ideas and discuss your developing views of key concepts and reflect on your practice helping you identify strengths and areas for development.

General queries about the module will be addressed by the module leader. Contact details for all tutors for this module are available in the module handbook and via the Electronic Learning Portal (eLP). You will have access to lecturers at teaching times, by email, and telephone.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

LO.1 Critically evaluate knowledge of risk factors and protective factors for human development and wellbeing

LO.2 Demonstrate an in depth understanding of knowledge of relevant legislation underpinning social work and social care provision, and an ability to apply this to complex situations

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

LO.3 Demonstrate a critical understanding of the processes involved in the application of social work law

LO.4 Critically appraise some of the social and psychological barriers which shape human development and well being

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

LO.5 Critically analyse the tensions between protection and control when balancing the rights and responsibilities of social work practice within a legal framework

How will I be assessed?

The assessment in this module has two summative components that you need to complete.

The summative assessment for the module is in two parts. Each element of the summative assignment contributes 50% of the mark and you must pass both elements of the summative assessment task in order to successfully complete the module.

Part one
Will be an assignment based on a case study of a family where you will need to identify risk and protective factors for identified individuals. In the assignment you will need to demonstrate an understanding of risk and application of professional judgement and decision making. 1500 words,50% of mark.
Part two
Unseen 3 hour written law exam. 50% of the mark.


SW0742, SW0743

Module abstract

The module seeks to develop critical understanding of social work theory and practice with respect to human development and risk. The module will enhance your understanding of various professional roles and responsibilities and facilitate your understanding of the multi-disciplinary environment and multiple contexts in which social workers operate. You will develop contemporary knowledge in the field of social work through use of research and learning directly relevant to professional practice The module will build on previous learning and experience to maintain and enhance employability and support you in continuing professional development. Social work is a complex area of practice, as such the module will allow you to critically evaluate and reflect upon your own professional development and the professional practice of others. With an acquired knowledge of Social Work England’s (SWE) Professional Standards, you will be required to demonstrate applied knowledge of professional codes of practice underpinning ethical decision making in line with SWE professional standards.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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