Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 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

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitDepartment of Social Work
OfferedCaulfield First semester 2015 (Day)
Caulfield First semester 2015 (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.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Utilize 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. Access and consider the implications 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 reports on human rights, ethics and legal issues.


On-campus students - attendance/participation in seminars/tutorials (10%)
Off-campus students - participation in on-line discussion/commentary (10%)
Court/tribunal related short answer questions and/or report (1,500 words) (40%)
A structured written commentary on a human rights, legal and ethical issue or case study (2,000 words) (50%)

Workload requirements

The unit runs for 12 weeks. On-campus students attend a 3 hour seminar/tutorial.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

Students are required to observe at least one court or tribunal hearing.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: