Accessibility statement

Introduction to Social Work - SPY00024C

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Edward Robson
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module will introduce you to the history of social work in the Western world and its evolution to the present time.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

We start from the view that social work is both a discipline and a profession. You will learn about the history of social work, how it has evolved over time and place, and you will study the contemporary context in the UK and beyond. Social work is distinctive in appreciating both the interior human world and the exterior material world, and their interrelationship. Different strands of social work have favoured one more than the other and you will learn about how social work engages with individuals, families, groups, communities, and the macropolitics and policy that influence people?s everyday lives.

You will be introduced to debates about whether social work is a profession, about whether its primary goals relate to care, control or transformation, and to what extent social work is a relationship-based practice. You will become familiar with the statutory, non-statutory, charitable and independent organisations in which social workers are employed. You will learn about service users and what they value in social workers. You will begin to understand the other professions with whom we work, and what makes social work different. You will learn about social work?s commitment to anti-oppressive practice, and the role of reflection and reflective supervision in the support and professional development of social workers.

You will engage in small group activities in the classroom and between sessions.

You will use your creativity and imagination to envision a social work of the future, taking into account the digital world and the advent of robotics.

Module learning outcomes

You will be able to describe the history of social work

You will be able to demonstrate an understanding of different helping professions and how social work is distinguished from them

You will be able to weigh up arguments about the nature of social work and justify different perspectives

You will be able to work constructively with other students to create seminar presentations

You will be able to harness your creativity and reflect on your learning


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 30
Essay 2000 Words
N/A 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 30
Essay 2000 Words
N/A 70

Module feedback

Feedback for both pieces of written work will be given with 4 weeks of submission

Feedback for the presentation will be given within two working days


Indicative reading

Horner, N (2012) What is Social Work? (4th edition) Exeter, Learning Matters.

Wlsion, K, Ruch, G, Lymbery, M and Cooper, A (2011) Social Work: An introduction to contemporary practice. (2nd edition). London: Pearson.

Lymbery, M and Postle, K (2007) Social Work: A companion to learning. London: Sage.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.