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Social Work Practice Skills - SPY00074H

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Jennifer McNally
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

This module will support you to develop an understanding of the range of social and ethical complexities often present in social work practice. It will offer simulated opportunities to adapt core skills to achieve sensitive, ethical and effective practice in social work situations. You will be introduced to the conceptual and research base of social work practice. You will be supported to undertake role plays in small groups and reflect on your communication skills within the role play setting. You will work alongside a group of students, as well as social work lecturers, practitioners, service users and carers.

This module provides students with a foundational understanding of social work practice, effective communication, and preparation for the first placement. The module will therefore prepare students for practice in relation to the following PCF domains:

Professionalism – as a trainee social worker

Values and ethics – make connections between professional ethical principles and personal values, on placement.

Diversity and Equality – working with People with Lived Experience and carers.

Rights, justice and economic well-being – understand what is meant by rights and justice in social work.

Knowledge – develop an initial understanding of some practice frameworks, used by our Local Authority partners.

Critical reflection and analysis – begin to understand the importance of reflective practice and consider how to write a regular reflective journal on placement.

Skills and interventions – practice skills around various interventions, including anti-oppressive practice, person-centred practice, motivational interviewing, systemic practice, and Signs of Safety

Contexts and organisations – be aware of how teams work, and the student role in an organisation.

Professional leadership – offer feedback to students on the role plays.

Module learning outcomes

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

LO1: demonstrate a critical understanding of the significance of communication in social work practice, with People with Lived Experience and between professionals.

LO2: demonstrate a critical understanding of some key theories and models for social work practice, with People with Lived Experience and between professionals, including models for work with resistance and conflict

LO3: demonstrate a critical understanding of the professional context for social work practice, including professional boundaries, workload, health, safety, wellbeing and emotional intelligence

LO4: demonstrate a critical understanding of People with Lived Experience’s knowledge and experience of social work practice, including the emotional dynamics of relationships with service users and professionals

LO5: use critical reflective thinking, specifically to describe and analyse their personal and professional development, with a focus on practice skills

LO6: demonstrate a critical understanding of the employment context for social work practice, including roles and responsibilities in supervision, and the significance of professional leadership.

LO7: demonstrate a critical application of communication theory in practice, at the readiness to practice level.

Module content

The module will include one weekly 2 hour interactive workshop and one 3 hour small group seminar, where you will develop the skills of the week, OR a full skills day (weeks 6 and 9).

In preparation for the first placement, two skills days have been incorporated into the Module to develop more skills for Placement One.

11 week breakdown:

Week 1: Introduction to the Module, including the Practice Conversation and Presentations.

Structuring a social work meeting + role play.

Week 2: What makes a good social worker? Perspectives of People with Lived Experience (with the SUPA group)

Week 3: Systemic Practice (including the Feedback Loop / Signs of Safety)

Week 4: Empathy and Emotional Intelligence + role-play

Week 5: Relationship-Based practice + role-play

Reading week

Week 6: Reflective Practice (Skills day)

Week 7: Motivational Interviewing + role-play

Week 8: Strength-based approaches (including mediation and Family Group Conferencing) + role-play

Week 9: Placement information (Skills day) (placement ‘paperwork’, PCF, developing learning goals, confidentiality, social media, health and safety, well-being, personal safety)

Week 9: Skills Audit assessment

Week 10: Supervision (with Practice Educators)

Week 11: Professional boundaries (linked to ethics, confidentiality, and virtues) + Presentation


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Critical reflection on skills audit
N/A 50
Skills audit
N/A 50

Special assessment rules

Pass/fail & Non-compensatable


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Critical reflection on skills audit
N/A 50
Skills audit
N/A 50

Module feedback

Verbal feedback is provided immediately following the skills audit; and Pass / Fail decision within 1 week. Reassessment opportunities will be provided within 2 weeks. Written feedback will be provided on the written formative assignment by the end of week 9.. Written feedback will be provided on the summative within the standard feedback period.

Indicative reading

Koprowska J. (2014) Communication and Interpersonal Skills in Social Work. 4th Edition. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Milner, J., Myers, S. and O’Brien, P. (2020) Assessment in Social Work. 5th Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rogers, M., Whitaker, D., Edmondson, D. & Peach, D. (2020) Developing skills for social work practice. 2nd Edition. London: Sage.

Ruch, G. Ward, A. and Turney, D. (2018) Relationship-Based Social Work: Getting to the Heart of Practice. 2nd Edition. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Tedam, P. (2020) Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice. Learning Matters.

Trevithick, P. (2012) Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook (3rd ed.). Open University 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.