Social Policy for Social Work Practice 2

Subject SCWK50015 (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 contact hours (8 x 1hour lecture, 8 x 2 hour seminar)
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


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.


Dr Winsome Roberts


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:

Given social work’s commitment to social justice and human rights, the ultimate purpose of understanding the policy environment is for social workers to become policy practitioners: monitoring policy from below, aware of differential impacts and committed to acting where there are adverse consequences for particular individuals, groups and communities. This may include advocacy on behalf of the most disadvantaged as well as developing strategies and processes that will empower those marginalised and excluded.

This subject will develop analytic and practical skills essential for social workers to become policy practitioners active in progressive reform through research, case advocacy, lobbying, social advocacy and promotion of grass roots activism.


This subject aims to assist students to theorise the broader domain in which they live and work as citizens and social work practitioners. It seeks to enhance their capacity to conceptualise abstract processes, describe the diversity and complexity of impacts as well as envisage and mobilize appropriate responses. It is based on the dictum that nothing is more practical than a good theory and that a good theory should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler. It is an intellectually demanding, empirically rigorous and emotionally challenging area of study that will require the ability to transcend the limitations of ethnocentrism, to think beyond conventional paradigms and to consider initiatives and strategies for empowering those who are marginalized and excluded. At the end of the course students will be able to understand:

  • anti-oppressive and empowering social policy practice
  • governance and processes of public policy-making
  • policy research and evaluation
  • case advocacy
  • strategies for lobbying
  • strategies for social advocacy
  • strategies for promoting grass roots activism
  1. A written essay of 2,000 words (40%) - due mid-semester
  2. An essay of 3,000 words (60%) - due end of semester
Prescribed Texts:

Jansson, B. (1999). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing.

Mullaly, B. (2002). Challenging oppression: A critical social work approach. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
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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