Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitDepartment of Social Work
OfferedCaulfield First semester 2013 (Day)
Caulfield First semester 2013 (Off-campus)
Coordinator(s)Dr Bernadette Saunders


This unit introduces students to the history and evolution of the international human rights regime, current debates about human rights locally, nationally and internationally, as well as ethical codes and decision-making processes as they apply to social work practice. The unit provides opportunities for students to explore the foundations of the Australian legal system in a human rights framework and the legal contexts within which social workers practice. The unit addresses concepts of moral philosophy underpinning the AASW Code of Ethics and explores the foundations of ethical decision-making. In line with Monash University's commitment to human rights and social justice, the unit has an overarching human rights approach, within which legal and ethical practice occurs.


At completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Utilise a human rights framework in a social work practice situation;
  2. Describe the history and current context of the international human rights regime;
  3. Demonstrate a beginning knowledge of local, national and international legal; systems and how they interface with social work practice;
  4. Read and consider the impact of legislation relevant to social work practice;
  5. Implement a process of ethical decision-making, making use of the AASW Code of Ethics and other relevant tools;
  6. Analyse ethical and legal issues relevant to social work practice;
  7. Reflect critically on their approach to human rights and ethical issues;
  8. Write required commentary on human rights, ethics and legal issues.


The assessment requirement for the Master of Social Work (Qualifying) 6 point subject Human Rights, Law and Ethics Contexts for Social Work Practice is the completion of two assessment tasks:
Report (1,500 words)(40%)
Essay (3,000 words)(60%)

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

The unit runs for 12 weeks. Students are expected to undertake 156 hours per semester study. Students are expected to use their study time to attend on-campus lectures and workshops, undertake the weekly unit tasks as set out in the Unit Outline and in the off-campus Unit Guide.