Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module SOCI42040: Social Work in Practice

Department: Sociology

SOCI42040: Social Work in Practice

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to L5K480


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module provides students with an introduction to the areas of knowledge, values and skills that form the foundations of social work in practice: i) the roles and tasks of social workers, ii) the legal and policy frameworks that govern and inform social work practice, iii) the sociological basis for social work interventions, iv) the principles, values and ethical dimensions of social work, v) the skills that underpin competent, evidence-based, practice in social work, and vi) the experiences of service users.
  • Delivered over the first months of the MSW, Social Work in Practice underpins and prepares students for their first practice placement. It complements, and is delivered in parallel with, Social Work in Context. It is also complemented by the Professional and Personal Development Module. The module provides students with opportunities for formative as well as summative assessment based on group as well as individual assignments.


  • The module will incorporate a number of specific elements reflecting the QAA benchmarks statements for social work, elements of the Professional Capabilities Framework (diversity, rights, justice and economic well-being, knowledge, critical reflection and analysis) and the HCPC standards of proficiency. It will focus on the acquisition of subject specific knowledge and skills and their integration with other programme components.
  • The construction of social work;
  • Roles and tasks of social workers;
  • Social exclusion
  • Principles of group working;
  • The views and experiences of children and adult service users and carers;
  • Power and the practice of social work;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Evidence based policy and practice;
  • Social Work Policy;
  • Social Work Law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module, students will have:
  • Awareness of the construction of social problems and processes leading to social exclusion of individuals, families, groups and communities, and the implications for social work practice (SSK1);
  • Legislation, policy and technologies that influence the nature of social work services (SSK2).
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Acquisition, critical analysis and evaluation of knowledge and its application in decision making and problem solving activities of social work practice (SSS1);
  • Critical reflection to inform the development of social work practice (SSS8).
Key Skills:
  • The use of information technology and computer skills to research, analyse and disseminate information relevant to social work and in preparation for social work practice (KS1);
  • Effective communication of evidence and argument (KS2) in demonstrating skills of critical thinking, critical analysis, problem solving and decision-making processes (KS3);
  • Ethically informed research skills in policy and practice evaluation (KS4).

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module learning outcomes will be addressed through direct teaching, problem-based learning, group work, documentary and community-based research and engagement with a range of service users.
  • Knowledge and skills will be assessed through:
  • Group presentation of community based research examining experiences of social exclusion and an individual (assessed by academic staff and service user colleagues), 1500 word, critical reflection on the development of subject and skills development;
  • A 3000 word individual, scenario based, law and policy written exercise.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Classroom based teaching/learning 26 workshops/sessions delivered over 3 half days per week 2 hours 52
Fieldwork 1 Whole Day 5 hours 5
In class assessment 2 2 separate days 4.5 hours 9
Independent study: reading, class and assignment preparation This includes half of the day that is now free of University contact . This is used for preparation of 2x assessed group work (formative and summative) as well as self-directed learning, reading, class and assignment preparation etc. 334
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Social Exclusion Group Presentation 30 minutes 30% Yes
Social Exclusion Individual Critical Reflection 1500 words 20% Yes
Law and Policy Exercise 3000 words 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

1. Group presentations to demonstrate critical thinking focussed on a social problem. 2. Individual, critical reflection of learning from group presentations.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University