SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 30.00
ECTS Credit Points 15.00
Module Code MMB526414
Module Leader Martin Kettle
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Social Work
  • B (January start)
  • C (May start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

SCQF Level 10 or equivalent

Summary of Content

-108 This module will have three aspects: it will cover theoretical aspects of decision making, including heuristics and biases, the cognitive continuum and naturalistic decision making. Research from fields of study other than social work will be drawn upon to illuminate decision-making processes in social work. Further, the module will cover the CSWO as decision maker, including the formal decisions that s/he makes as part of their professional life, including as agency decision maker in adoption and fostering, decisions about guardianship and about decisions to place young people in secure accommodation. Finally, the module will cover the individual aspects of decision-making focussing on the decision making of the individual candidate.


-360 1. Theories of decision making 2. Heuristics and biases 3. Ecology of judgement 4. Naturalistic decision-making 5. Threshold judgments 6. CSWO role as decision maker 7. Reflection on professional decision making

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:1. Critically evaluate the theoretical underpinnings of judgement and decision making2. Demonstrate an understanding of the ecology of judgement 3. Evidence a critical understanding of threshold judgements4. Identify and critically explore the CSWO role in decision making for social work.5. Critically explore their own role in decision making 6. Present an exploration of a key decision they have been instrumental in making to peers

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be delivered via 12 hours of face to face teaching over two days (staging post days) and additional online fora. Further, there will be a Masterclass led by experienced CSWOs. Students will receive didactic input on theoretical approaches to decision making and the role of the CSWO in formal decision making and will be invited to relate that to their own experience. In addition, there will be simulation of the decision-making process. The module will be assessed by two elements: b7 A presentation analysing a key decision that they have been involved in b7 A written assignment exploring the complexities of decision making in social work.

Indicative Reading

-108 DHAMI, M., SCHLOTTMAN, A. & WALDEMAN, M, 2011. Judgment and decision making as a skill, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. GAMBRILL, E., 2012. Critical thinking in clinical practice: improving the quality of judgments and decisions, 3rd Ed, London: Wiley HAMMOND, K., 1996. Human judgment and social policy: Irreducible uncertainty, inevitable error, unavoidable injustice, New York: Oxford University Press. HAMMOND, K. R., 2007. Beyond rationality: The search for wisdom in a troubled time, Oxford: Oxford University Press. HELM, D. & ROESCH-MARSH A., 2017. The ecology of judgement: a model for understanding and improving social work judgements, British Journal of Social Work, 47 (5), pp. 1361-1376. KLEIN. G., 1999. Sources of power, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. KLEIN. G., 2009. Streetlights and shadows: Searching for the keys to adaptive decision making, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. PLATT, D & TURNEY, D., 2014, Making threshold decisions in child protection: A conceptual analysis. British Journal of Social Work, 44, (6), pp. 1454-1471. ROESCH-MARSH, A., 2014. Risk assessment and secure accommodation decision-making in Scotland: taking account of gender? Child Abuse Review, 23(3), 2014, pp.214-226. ROESCH-MARSH, A., 2016. Professional relationships and decision making in social work: Lessons from a Scottish case study of secure accommodation decision making, Qualitative Social Work, 17(3), pp. 405-422. TAYLOR, B., & WHITTAKER, A. (Eds), 2018. Professional judgement and decision making in social work: Current issues, London: Routledge.

Transferrable Skills

-360 1. Develop critical evaluation skills relating to policy and practice data 2. Develop communication skills in individual presentations 3. Communicate and work effectively in peer relationships 4. Exercise substantial autonomy in learning and professional development 5. Develop skills in carrying out research into specialist areas of practice 6. Develop written skills in presentation of complex information

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (PT) 30.00
Lectures (PT) 12.00
Independent Learning (PT) 240.00
Assessment (PT) 18.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Written assignment n/a 70.00 45% Written Assignment
Presentation n/a 30.00 45% Written Assignment