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Unit information: Foundations of Social Work: The Professional Role in 2020/21

Unit name Foundations of Social Work: The Professional Role
Unit code SPOLM0032
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Aggie Bezzina
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit is intended to provide an introduction to the professional values and principles which are central to the social work role. It familiarises students with the practice of professional social work, the range of methods used by professional social workers. It provides students with the opportunity to examine the principles and values of social work, the ethical standards required of professionals. It will introduce conceptual frameworks for understanding the impact of social inequalities, social injustice and discrimination on people who use social work services and the ways in which these frameworks influence practice.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate: i) A critical understanding of the role of social work in contemporary British society

ii) The application of ethical principles and values to the professional practice of social work.

iii) A critical understanding of the impact of culture, inequality and diversity on professional practice

iv) Knowledge of the principles of social work intervention in relation to the advancement of human rights and the promotion of social justice.

v) Critical knowledge of a range of social work theories and methods of intervention.

vi) Skills in working as a member of a group in planning, collecting, analysing and presentation.

Teaching details

This unit will be delivered through a blended learning approach involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Synchronous sessions will be with the larger cohort, as well as in smaller seminar groups (on campus or online, depending on what is possible at that point in time). Students will also be expected to engage with an online community-analysis exercise, researching the impact of inequality, discrimination and oppression on the lives of services users from different backgrounds, and the resources available to assist them.

Assessment Details

Formative Group presentation on community profile ( verbal feedback)


A 4000-word essay. (100%).

Reading and References

Banks, S. (2012) Ethics and Values in Social Work, 4th Edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ferguson, I and Woodward, R (2009) Radical Social Work in Practice Bristol: Policy Press.

Ruch, A., Turney, D & Ward, A. (Eds.). Relationship-Based Social Work - Getting to the Heart of Practice. London & Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Teater, B (2014) An Introduction to Applying Social Work Theories and Methods, (2nd ed)Maidenhead: Open University Press

Trevithick, P. (2012) Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook. Maidenhead:: Open University Press.