Researching Social Work Practice

Subject SCWK50001 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

September, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours (8 x 1 hour lecture, 8 x 2 hour seminars)
Total Time Commitment:

24 contact hours

16 hours of class preparation and reading

24 hours of assessment related tasks

= 64 hours total time commitment

= 8 hours total time per week
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's courses. Students who think their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Assoc Prof Lynette Joubert


Social Work
Melbourne School of Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Level 5, 234 Queensberry St
Carlton Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 8344 9400
F: +61 3 9347 4375

Subject Overview:

The aim of the subject is to familiarise students with a range of approaches useful for researching social work practice. In this subject “practice” is defined broadly to encompass policy and organizational practice as well as practice with individuals, groups and communities.

Social work research methods are used in all aspects of social work practice from describing and attempting to understand the issues with which, and the people with whom we work, to establishing the effectiveness of what we do. There is increasingly an emphasis on evidence-based practice, which necessitates an ability to evaluate and use research evidence to inform practice. Social workers move in increasing numbers and earlier in their careers into roles requiring them to initiate as well as participate in practice based research. The organizations in which social workers work are increasingly promoting a culture of practice research in an attempt to plan and evaluate service delivery in a reflective and thoughtful way.

The lectures and seminars will present a range of practice research issues, broadly mirroring the research process in the field. They will also offer examples and identify opportunities for practice research and the challenges confronting practitioners in undertaking it.


At the completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Draw on relevant secondary research to understand the context of social work practice
  • Approach research literature in an informed and critical way as a basis for evidence based practice
  • Formulate research questions arising from social work practice situations including those concerning social policy and program development
  • Develop a research design and a beginning understanding of implementing the design through appropriate data collection and analysis methods
  • Be aware of ethical issues involved in social work research
  • Be aware of processes for engaging service users or consumers in social work research
  • Be competent in evaluating research evidence as a basis for practice
  1. Group poster and presentation (60%) - during semester
  2. Written essay 2000 words (40%) - due at end of semester
Prescribed Texts: Friedman, B. (1998). The research tool kit: Putting it all together. Pacific Grove: Brooks Cole Publishing.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • critically analyse texts and practices;
  • understand recent developments in social work contexts of practice;
  • link theory to practice;
  • competently communicate in ways relevant to both academic and practice contexts;
  • undertake independent research.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Social Work

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