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Introduction to Social Work - SPY00031C

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Edward Robson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

In this module, you will be introduced to a range of topics, theories, concepts and arguments of direct relevance to social work. 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. Social work is distinctive in appreciating both the interior human world and the exterior material world, and their interrelationship.

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 learn about service users and carers and what they value in social work practitioners. You will explore your own value base and begin to consider the importance of cultural understanding and sensitivity. You will learn about social work's commitment to anti-oppressive practice, and the role of critical reflection as a crucial element of social work practice.

The module will be a combination of taught lectures, small group discussions and independent study. The overall aim of the module is to introduce you to a range of essential practice concepts and ideas that we will return to in subsequent years and study at a deeper level. In doing so, we will be aligning with the social work profession’s expectation that practitioners continuously develop their skills, knowledge and understanding.

This module will help you to demonstrate that you have built on the ‘entry’ level descriptors in the following Professional Capabilities Framework domains (and are working towards the standard required at the ‘readiness for practice’ level):

  • Knowledge

  • Values and Ethics

  • Contexts and Organisations

  • Professionalism

  • Diversity and Equality

  • Critical Reflection and Analysis

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand how social work has developed within the UK and understand how it takes place within a variety of contexts

  • Weigh up arguments about the nature of social work and justify different perspectives

  • Demonstrate an understanding a range of approaches and ideas that inform social work practice

  • Demonstrate an ability to work constructively with other students to create presentations and present clear arguments

  • Have an understanding of service user knowledge and experience of social work practice

  • Understand key concepts relating to reflective practice and its significance for effective social work interventions

  • Demonstrate an initial understanding of the variety of sources of knowledge that they can draw upon in making decisions and arriving at judgements in social work


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be given in accordance with the University Policy on feedback in the Guide to Assessment as well as in line with the School policy.

Indicative reading

  • Banks, S (2021) Ethics and Values in Social Work (5th ed) Red Globe Press

  • Coulshed, V and Orme, J (2012) Social Work Practice: An Introduction (5th ed) Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

  • Horner, N (2018) What is Social Work? (5th edition) Exeter, Learning Matters.

  • Lishman, J; Yuill, C; Brannan, J; Gibson, A (2018) Social Work: An Introduction (2nd ed), Sage, Los Angeles

  • Thompson, N and Thompson, S (2015) The Social Work Companion (2nd ed) Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

  • Thompson, N (2020) Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity and Social Justice (7th ed) Red Globe Press

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.