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Law & Policy for Social Work - SPY00134M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hannah Jobling
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

In this module you will be introduced to the legal and policy frameworks for statutory social work practice.  The module will enable you to critically explore how policy and law inform statutory social work practice, and in turn how social workers can shape law and policy as ‘street-level’ actors.  

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module provides students with a foundational understanding of the policy and legal frameworks for social work and the application of these frameworks to complex social work situations. Students will understand how social workers apply legal and policy frameworks as well and appreciate the role of social workers in influencing policy developments 

 

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

 

LO1: Apply knowledge of the policy and legal frameworks statutory social workers operate within.  

 

LO2: Understand the key concepts, trends and contemporary challenges in social work law and policy.

 

LO3: Demonstrate critical awareness of the complexities in applying social work law in practice.

 

LO4: Analyse the effects of relevant policy implementation on social work practice and service users.

 

LO5: Develop an appreciation of the various forms of action social workers can take to shape both policy agendas and their ‘street-level’ application.

 

 

The module will include a mix of online learning, lectures and interactive workshops.  

 

The purpose of the online learning is for students to develop their foundational knowledge of the legal frameworks for social work.  It will involve students working through a series of exercises that are aligned with a textbook on social work law (see key texts section for details).  

 

Alongside online learning, students will attend a workshop series which will give them critical insight into how law is applied within the different domains of social work, including: understanding contextual challenges; working with thresholds; balancing risk, rights and best interests in decision-making; and making defensible and evidence-based judgements.  The workshop series will draw on materials from case law, practitioner accounts of legal decision-making in complex and contentious cases, and service user experiences of statutory intervention in their lives. The lecture series will end with two skills days on report-writing for court and courtroom skills (using the courtroom in the Law Department).  

 

Students will also attend a series of lectures throughout the term, where they will be introduced to the current policy landscape for social work.  Content will include: a critical overview of current policy within the different domains of social work; an introduction to policy analysis for social work; social workers as ‘policy actors’; and the ‘person-in-environment’ via a policy lens, including poverty-aware practice.  Lectures will include input from service users where helpful (for example poverty advocacy groups).


 

The assessment will require students to combine learning of policy and law by writing a legal and policy analysis in response to a case study. 

Module content

The module will include a mix of online learning and interactive workshops.  On alternate weeks policy focused sessions (with an emphasis on a critical approach to policy developments)  will be followed by 'Law Workshops' which will help students understand how broad policy developments are translated into law. The Law workshops will give a more detailed legal focus on key policy areas such as; Adults Social Care (Care Act 2014); Children's Social Care (Children Act 1989); Mental Health Law (including Mental Capacity).  The workshops will give students critical insight into how law is applied within different domains of social work, including: understanding contextual challenges; working with thresholds; balancing risk, rights and best interests in decision-making; and making defensible and evidence-based judgements.  The workshop series will draw on materials from case law, practitioner accounts of legal decision-making in complex and contentious cases, and service user experiences of statutory intervention in their lives. 

This module includes two skills days on 'court writing skills' and 'report writing skills' to prepare students for some of the 'legal' skills they may need in practice

Online learning is for students to develop their foundational knowledge of the legal frameworks for social work.  It will involve students working through a series of exercises that are aligned with a textbook on social work law (see key texts section for details).  

The assessment will require students to combine learning of policy and law by writing a legal and policy analysis in response to a case study. 

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Case study
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

Non-compensatable

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Case study
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive support for the assessment throughout the Autumn term and will receive marks and written feedback within 4 weeks of submission.  Formative feedback on interactive exercises will be given throughout the module.

Indicative reading

Carr, H. and Goosey, D. (2017) Law for Social Workers (14th ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press

 

Cunningham, J. and Cunningham, S. (2017) Social policy and social work: An introduction. Exeter: Learning Matters.

 

Dickens, J. (2016) Social work and social policy: An introduction. London: Routledge.


Klammer, U., Leiber, S., & Leitner, S. (Eds.). (2019). Social Work and the Making of Social Policy. Bristol: Bristol 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.