SWM5112 - Research for social work practice - 2017

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate - 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 Catherine Flynn

Unit guides



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


In all fields of contemporary social work, practitioners need the skills to effectively consume, produce and apply research knowledge, to ensure that actions are based on appropriate and critiqued evidence. Research is a powerful intervention tool through which change can be achieved with individuals, groups and communities. This unit is offered as part of the core requirements of the professional association, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Social work research is seen to be informed by a clear value base and driven to deliver socially constructive outcomes. The unit will explore research processes, presenting a structured approach to the implementation of a research proposal. There will be particular emphasis on research in practice, program evaluation, and program development, as well as the ethical underpinnings of all research. The overall aim of this unit is to encourage students to become critically reflective, research minded practitioners, who contribute in an ongoing way to the knowledge base of the profession. Students will engage in a range of learning activities, including interactive lectures, workshops, cross-disciplinary masterclasses and integrated online learning. Students will focus on learning the language and terminology of research, within a reflective practice framework.


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

  1. Appraise the contribution of research to the wider social work skill and knowledge base and to socially constructive outcomes.
  2. Locate and appraise existing research literature, to guide research and practice.
  3. Examine common approaches evident in social work research, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of these to make appropriate methodological choices.
  4. Identify the ethical issues relevant to the conduct of human research and devise appropriate strategies to manage these concerns.
  5. Utilise professional ethical principles to balance the rights and protection of potentially vulnerable research participants.
  6. Design a social work practice research project that is methodologically rigorous, feasible and ethical.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to choose appropriate data analysis strategies.
  8. Draw on a critically reflexive approach to ensure rigour and transparency in research.


  • Preparatory research overview (500 words) 10%
  • Literature review (2500 - 3000 words) 25%
  • Research proposal (3500 - 4000 words) 35%
  • Reflective evaluation of learning and presentation (500 words) 20%
  • In-class exam (1000 words ) 10%

Workload requirements

  • On-campus - Four (4) to five (5) hours per week in the form of lectures, workshops, and masterclasses.
  • Twenty (20) hours of private study per week in the form of weekly readings, reflective journal, assignment and examination preparation.
  • Off-campus - Twenty-four (24) hours of study per week in the form of weekly readings, online learning materials, online activities, masterclasses, reflective journal, assignment and examination preparation and associated readings.
  • One (1) day of on-campus attendance is required in September to sit the examination. This day will be coordinated to align with residential requirements for other units of study.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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



Restricted to Master of Social Work (M6012).