Course Outline

SWK703 Introduction to Social Work

Course Coordinator:Laura Dodds ( School:School of Law and Society

2022Semester 1

USC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course introduces you to social work within contemporary Australian society and globally. You will develop knowledge and understanding of the purpose, focus, core values, professional ethics, theories and processes required to undertake social work with individuals, groups and communities. The variety of roles, fields, contextual considerations and theories informing social work practice are examined, unified by an emphasis on respect for persons, human rights, social justice, professional integrity in social work practice and critical reflection.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – 1 hour online learning materials and activities not for timetabling 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On campus tutorial/workshop - 2 hours 2hrs Week 2 11 times
Seminar – 2 x 2-hour synchronous Seminar offered on campus 2hrs Week 1 2 times

Course Topics

Purpose and focus of social work

Contexts of practice

Motivations for undertaking social work

Conceptualising and responding to complexity

Current directions in conceptualising social work

Social work values          

The history and grand challenges of social work and social care  

Practice roles and levels of practice

Intersecting fields of practice

Diversity, difference and intersectionality

Social work ethics           

Discourses in policy, service delivery and social work practice

Theories for practice     


What level is this course?

700 Level (Specialised)

Demonstrating a specialised body of knowledge and set of skills for professional practice or further learning. Advanced application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Mapping Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming... Professional Standard Mapping * Australian Association of Social Workers
1 Demonstrate an understanding of foundation social work concepts and theories, and articulate the relevance of these for social work practice. Knowledgeable
1, 1.1, 4.2, 4.4
2 Discuss, collaborate on and explainhow your own sense of self and personal values intersect with social work and may impact on your social work practice Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker
1, 3, 5.4, 8
3 Identify and apply relevant social work concepts and theories to social work practice case studies in ways that reflect the orientations and values of social work. Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker
1, 1.1, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5, 5.4

* Competencies by Professional Body

Australian Association of Social Workers
1 Values and ethics
1.1 Practise in accordance with the AASW Code of Ethics
3 Culturally responsive and inclusive practice
4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on people with respect to area of practice
4.2 Understand and articulate social work and other relevant theories and concepts
4.3 Understand the role of research and evaluation in obtaining and generating new knowledge for practice
4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice
5 Applying knowledge to practice
5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice
8 Professional development and supervision

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Quiz/zes will be used to provide early feedback on the understanding of course content. 

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Quiz/zes Individual 30%
1 hour
Throughout teaching period (refer to Format) Online Test (Quiz)
All 2 Written Piece Individual 20%
1500 words
Week 7 Online Submission
All 3 Case Study Individual 40%
2500 words
Week 13 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 4 Activity Participation Individual 10%
11 tutorials
Refer to Format In Class
All - Assessment Task 1:Quiz/zes
The goal of this assessment task is to demonstrate an understanding of a range of concepts, values, contextual considerations and theories relevant to social work
Product: Quiz/zes
Submit: Weeks 3 to 10.

Each quiz will consist of a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Accuracy, depth and relevance of response
1 3
All - Assessment Task 2:Reflective and researched essay
The goal of this assessment task is to reflect on and articulate your motivations for undertaking social work practice, and to link this to relevant social work literature regarding such motivations and the purpose, focus, fields and values of social work.
Product: Written Piece
This task will be to write a reflective essay which locates your motivations for undertaking social work in relevant course and other social work literature. In doing this you are to demonstrate an understanding of the purpose, focus and core values of social work, and how your motivations and understandings link to the various contexts, fields and levels of social work practice.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrated ability to identify and critically reflect on own motivations and values
Capacity to link your motivations and reflections to relevant course and social work concepts and literature
Demonstrated understanding of the focus, purpose and values of social work
Relevant and sufficient use of course learning materials and other relevant social work literature, cited accurately
All - Assessment Task 3:Case study
The goal of this task is for you to demonstrate you can identify and apply relevant social work concepts, values, questions and theories to a given case study.
Product: Case Study
Individual written report summarising final response to case study. Supported by prior workshop discussions and collaboration.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrated capacity to ask and justify practice relevant questions to explore relevant aspects of a case study
Understanding of social work concepts, values, processes and theories
Identification and justification of relevant social work concepts, values and theories
to a case
Critical and context responsive analysis of social work practice in the particular case study, including consideration of how identified concepts, theories, and processes can assist the worker deal with identified complexities
Use of relevant literature and collaborative communication to support the exploration of the case
All - Assessment Task 4:Tutorial Attendance and Participation
AASW external accreditation requires mandatory attendance for skills based tutorials. Students must attend weekly tutorials and actively participate in all tutorial activities.
Product: Activity Participation
Tutorial attendance will be recorded to meet external AASW accreditation requirements. Student participation and engagement in tutorial activities assessed based upon attendance and participation across 11 tutorials.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Discuss, collaborate on and explain how your own sense of self and personal values intersect with social work concepts and processes canvassed in the course and how your values and understandings may impact on your social work practice

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Karen Healy 2014 Social Work Theories in Context 2nd Palgrave Macmillan

Specific requirements

Not applicable

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

Student Wellbeing provide free and confidential counselling on a wide range of personal, academic, social and psychological matters, to foster positive mental health and wellbeing for your academic success.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

Visit the USC website:

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General Enquiries

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