SWM5105 - Social work practice and research - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 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

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Catherine Flynn


Dr Catherine Flynn

Unit guides






Must be enrolled in a Postgraduate degree


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 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, needs analyses 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.


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

  1. Discuss the contributions of research to the wider social work skill and knowledge base and to socially constructive outcomes.
  2. Articulate the most common research methods evident in social work research and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the different research methods that can be applied to social work.
  3. Critically analyse key approaches to social work practice research.
  4. Demonstrate the knowledge required to evaluate and choose relevant research methods for a range of social work research projects.
  5. Critically evaluate existing research literature, especially in terms of research design.
  6. Design a social work practice research project that meets rigorous and evidence-based design principles.
  7. Identify the ethical issues that need to be considered with respect to the conduct of human research projects.


  • Preparatory research tasks (500 words) (10%)
  • Critical literature review (2000 words) (35%)
  • Research proposal (2500 words) (55%) (hurdle)

Workload requirements

The unit runs for 12 weeks. On-campus students are expected to undertake 144 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, including readings and to complete three assignment tasks.

DE students need to undertake the weekly readings online activities and complete three assignment tasks.

See also Unit timetable information

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

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