Social Work

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Department of Psychology, Social Work and Allied Health Sciences 

GCU identifies, promotes and delivers research excellence across the spectrum of social work activity, including Children and Families, Criminal Justice and Critical perspectives in Social work

We offer programmes in:

Professional Accreditation

Graduates of the BA (Hons) Social Work and MSc Social Work will be eligible for registration with the Scottish Social Services Council as qualified Social Workers.

Why choose Social Work at GCU?

  • 95% Student Satisfaction (NSS, 2014)
  • 95% of our graduates are in work or further study 6 months after graduation (NSS, 2014)
  • Our programmes are accredited by the Scottish Social Services Council
  • The School of Health and Life Sciences offers excellent learning support, including an Academic Development Tutor who works closely with the teaching teams to ensure that all students are fully supported and appropriate additional sessions are provided as required.
  • There is a strong ethos of interprofessional education in the school, which will allow you to understand what role other allied health professions play in health care treatment.
  • Our students have access to social work archives including material from the Heatherbank Museum of Social Work, which provides provide an excellent research resource for our students

Brighter Futures

Our graduates work in a range of settings across the statutory and voluntary sectors. Opportunities exist to work with adults and children in social work teams and specialist settings.

Research themes

Social work research at GCU aims to identify, promote and deliver research excellence across the spectrum of social work activity. Our research is strategically honed to meet the challenges and changing circumstances of modern day social work. It is focused on fundamental enquiry and curiosity driven questions as well as applied issues such as the social and economic dimensions of social work. Our researchers work beyond traditional disciplinary silos to focus on creative interdisciplinary agendas at the cutting edge of social work research. This is illustrated in a range of research interests; from mainstream evaluative, impact and empirical research in local Scottish contexts to theoretical inquiry focusing on international issues relating to emerging global social work agendas and human rights. We take the view that is it impossible, and potentially dangerous, to force dichotomies between theory and practice, value and fact or evidence and interpretation in social work.

The themes below illustrate a few areas of research focus within the social work group. 

Children and Families
  • Practitioner perspectives on child protection
  • Children’s Hearing System: the origins and evolution of the Kilbrandon philosophy
  • Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC): a critical review of its theoretical and research base
  • Pathways out of care: policy and provision for ‘looked after children’ in Scotland
Criminal Justice
  • Group work based intervention with service users
  • Treatment of sexual offenders in Scotland
  • The needs of women offenders within the Scottish criminal justice system<
Older People
  • The impact on older people of self-directed support (SDS)
  • The social work role in supporting people with dementia
  • The implementation of ‘protection of vulnerable adults’ policies in Scotland
Critical perspectives on social work
  • 21st Century Review of Social Work: restatement or retrenchment of the communitarian values of the Social Work (Scotland) Act, 1968?
  • Anti-discriminatory practice: a critical review of its place in contemporary social work.
  • Regulating the social work-force: professionalism or protectionism
  • Neoliberalism, the politics of ‘austerity’ and social work
  • Understanding connections: anti-discriminatory practice, racism and anti-racism
Social Work Knowledge, Values and Contexts
  • Mindfulness in social work practice
  • Critical theory, ethics and values for social work
  • Professional identity and the culture of integration
  • Evidence-based practice and decision making
  • Social work in the Nordic countries
  • A distinctive Scottish social work in a UK context
  • Sexuality and sexual identity in social work practice
  • Social work in a risk society

 Academic staff

  • Brian Coyle
  • Dr Scott Grant
  • Dr Sharon Jackson
  • Dr Martin Kettle
  • Dr Heather Lynch
  • Pearse McCusker
  • David McKendrick
  • Louise Shanks
  • Lynn Sheridan
  • Professor Stephen Webb