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Social Work Across the Lifecourse - SPY00063H

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Polly Sykes
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module will introduce you to theories and models used in social work and how this knowledge is applied in assessment, planning and interventions in social work across the lifecourse (covering work with children, adults and older people in various settings). The module takes a case study approach to learning which integrates the learning of theories/ knowledge with practice .

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25 to Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module will introduce you to various theories and models, and to give you a critical understanding of how this knowledge is applied in assessment, planning and interventions in social work. The module is designed to cover the whole lifecourse (including work with children, adults and older people in various settings). The module takes a case study and enquiry based learning approach which integrates the learning of theories and knowledge with practice.

Module aims

This module will cover key theories for social work (including human development, life course theories, sociological theories) and the skills and critical insight around how these theories might be applied in practice (assessment skills, risk assessment, multi-agency working and decision making).

There are a number of skills days throughout the module which focus on key topics relevant to applying theory to practice in social work across the whole life course.

Throughout the lectures, seminars and skills days, the module will draw on case studies to allow students the opportunity to apply theory to practice and understand the knowledge and skills required to undertake complex and dynamic cases in a variety of social work contexts.

Through the above activities, the module will prepare students for practice in relation to the following PCF domains:

  • Professionalism. Students will learn about the role and expectations of social workers in different areas of practice; they will develop an appreciation of how our profession intersects with other professions and of the centrality of the experience of people with lived experience.

  • Values and ethics: the module starts with two skills days dedicated to ethics and values, and throughout the course students will be introduced to ethics and values in social work practice by using challenging and ethically complex case study scenarios.

  • Diversity: the module includes several skills days tailored to supporting people who have protected characteristics, and throughout the course students will explore the impact of practice on diverse groups. The main case study includes people who have diverse characteristics.

  • Rights, justice and economic well-being: there is an emphasis on person centred planning and participation within this module, and social justice is a theme that runs throughout the module.

  • Knowledge: this module specifically explores key knowledge and theories and considers how these might be applied to social work practice.

  • Critical reflection and analysis: the module introduces models of critical reflection and analysis,. This is central to effective social work practice. The module thus lays the groundwork for the ‘Knowledge into Practice’ reflective module running in the next semester and Placement One'

  • Intervention and skills: a practical understanding of the role and responsibilities of social workers is a key element of this module; each week a new area of social work is explored.

  • Contexts and organisations: this module analyses different practice settings and allows students the opportunity to consider the multi-agency and multi-disciplinary nature of social work. There may be opportunities to work with students from other disciplines.

  • Professional leadership: students will begin to develop an appreciation for leadership in social work practice, and how leadership can foster good practice. Through work with students from their own course and from other disciplines, they will begin to develop their own confidence around sharing their knowledge and supporting others. This is supported by the ‘Enquiry Based Learning’ approach used as part of the teaching.

Module learning outcomes

Having completed the module, students should:

LO1: Demonstrate insight into how social workers, in various settings, evaluate and apply social work knowledge and theory.

LO2: Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of approaches and models for assessment and intervention in social work practice.

LO3: Demonstrate the ability to negotiate practice dilemmas with a view to sound and ethical decision making

LO4: Demonstrate an insight into how to approach effective practice, with particular attention to the importance of multi-agency working.

Module content


Task Length % of module mark
Case Study Analysis
N/A 50
Intervention Plan & Analysis
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Case Study Analysis
N/A 50
Intervention Plan & Analysis
N/A 50

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

  • Barnes, V. (2018) Child-centred social work: theory and Practice. London: Palgrave

  • Beckett, C. and Taylor, H. (2022) Human Growth and Development. (4th edn.). London: SAGE

  • Gould, N . (2016) Mental Health Social Work in Context. (2nd edn.). London: Routledge.

  • Shakespeare, T. (2014) Disability Rights and Wrongs Revisited. (2nd edn.). Abingdon: Routledge

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.