SWK4030 - Human rights, legal and ethics knowledge for social work practice - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Department of Social Work


Dr Bernadette Saunders

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)
  • First semester 2017 (Off-campus)


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. Describe how international human rights regimes have evolved;
  2. Identify relevant human rights documents, and apply them in social work practice situations;
  3. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the Australian Legal System, its international context, and the importance of legal knowledge to competent social work practice, including record keeping and report writing;
  4. Find, read, consider, apply, and critically evaluate legislation, and how it informs and impacts social work practice;
  5. Identify, describe and critically reflect upon legal and ethical issues and dilemmas;
  6. Implement ethical decision making processes in social work practice.


  • Written assignment related to law, the Australian legal system and the student's observation of court or tribunal proceedings (2,000 words) (35%)
  • An ethical decision-making response to a case study (3,000 words) (55%) (Hurdle)
  • Online multiple choice and other types of questions (1,000 words) (10%)

Workload requirements

6 hours teacher directed study + 6 hours student directed study

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

Social work

Human services

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