Accessibility statement

Evidence in Social Work with Adults - SPY00139M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Mark Hardy
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

In this module, you will be introduced to the idea of evidence based practice as it has developed and is currently applied in social work with adults. The module will enable you to critically explore how evidence from various sources is produced, assessed and used by various stakeholders in social work. Students will be enabled to develop key skills associated with contemporary evidence based practice, including evaluation, critical thinking and appraisal, knowledge integration and decision making. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Summer Vacation 2021-22 to Autumn Term 2022-23
B Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

In this module you will learn how to use evidence in social work practice with adults.  You will explore how different types of evidence are produced and applied. You will learn key skills associated with contemporary evidence based practice drawing on cutting edge research and the experiences of practitioners. 

Module learning outcomes

Students will be able to:


LO1. understand of the variety of sources of knowledge that they can draw upon in practice based decision-making in adult social work; 


LO2. demonstrate an understanding of the distinctive strengths and limitations of knowledge claims made in social work by various stakeholders - policy makers, organisations, service users and carers, researchers, and other practitioners;


LO3. use critical thinking and appraisal in order to differentiate knowledge which is potentially useful in practice from that which is not and apply this in concrete decision making situations; 


LO4. select appropriate approaches to reasoning in the day-to-day practice situations which characterise contemporary social work;


LO5. contribute to the development of the knowledge base of adult social work via evaluating in practice

Module content

The module will include a mix of lectures, in class activities, and private reading. The final three delivered by/with social workers from local Teaching Partnership, explaining research base underpinning current practice models, practical application and impact on individual and more general local outcomes. Topics reflect local priorities and over time will shift as these change. The provisional structure is as follows:


Autumn term - 9 x 2 hour lectures


Session 1 - Evidence based practice - principles and policy/ context and controversy

Session 2 - Using evidence in decision making 

Session 3 - Sources of evidence in social work

Session 4 - Working partners? Practitioner and service user knowledge in social work

Session 5 - Research knowledge in social work

Session 6- From critical thinking to critical appraisal (this includes assignment preparation)

Session 7 - Social approaches in adult social work

Session 8 - Strengths based approaches in adult social work

Session 9 - Relationship based approaches in adult social work


A series of critical appraisal activities will take place between sessions. There are three of these, which will be threaded across the first six sessions as practicable. They are intended to supplement classroom teaching and have a skills focus, being geared towards critical thinking, critical appraisal and self evaluation.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback and marks will be provided to students within four weeks of submission. Verbal feedback on between class activities will be provided during next scheduled lecture

Indicative reading


Brown, K. and Rutter, L. (2006) Critical thinking for social work, Exeter: Learning Matters


D’Cruz, H. and Jones, M. (2006) Social work research: ethical and political contexts, London: Sage


Evans, T. and Hardy, M. (2010) Evidence and knowledge for practice, Cambridge: Polity Press


Gray, M., Plath, D., and Webb, S.A. (2009) Evidence-based social work – a critical stance, Abingdon: Routledge


McLaughlin, H. (2006) Understanding social work research, London: Sage


Newman, T., Moseley, A., Tierney, S., and Ellis, A. (2005) Evidence based social work – a guide for the perplexed, Lyme Regis: Russell House


Munro, E. (2008) Effective child protection (2nd edition), London: Sage


Orme, J. and Sheppard, M. (2010) Developing research based social work practice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


Payne (2014) Modern social work theory (4th edition) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


Rogers, M. and Allen, D. (2019) Applying critical thinking and analysis in social work, London: Sage


Shaw, I. (2011) Evaluating in practice (2nd edition) Farnham: Ashgate


Shaw, I., Briar-Lawson, K., Orme, J., and Ruchdeschel, R. (eds.) ) 2010) The Sage handbook of social work research, London: Sage


Sheldon, B. and Macdonald, G. (2009) A textbook of social work, London: Routledge


Sheppard, M. (2004) Appraising and using research in human services. London: Jessica Kingsley


Smith, R. (2013) ‘Professionalism and practice-focused research’, in J. Parker and M. Doel (eds.) Professional social work, London: SAGE/Learning Matters


Taylor, J.H (2011) Using research in practice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


Webber, M. (2014) (ed.) Applying research evidence in social work practice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


Wilkins, D. and Boahen, G. (2013) Critical analysis skills for social workers, Maidenhead: Open 

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.