SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MML522776
Module Leader Heather Lynch
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Social Work
  • A (September start)

Summary of Content

This Module will provide students with an understanding of different aspects of theorising for social work and develop an understanding of the relationships between theory and practice. This will prepare students for practice learning within the Supervised Direct Practice Module. While many aspects of social life appear routine and lend themselves to common sense understanding, others are more complex and require deeper and more attuned interpretations. Theorising provides explanations for things and develops an understanding of processes. For instance, it helps us test out why people and institutions do certain things and not others. The Module provides an introduction to various theoretical perspectives and key concepts in social work by examining their relevance to practice settings. In particular, the module will consider a range of relevant theoretical perspectives and methods, their foundations and application in a variety of contexts and with a diversity of user and carer groups. The complex relationship between different theoretical perspectives and theory and contentious relation to practice will be considered. The value of theorising as an essential skill for critical analysis and decision making will be explored. A central consideration for this module is the way that theorising is an integral feature of research minded practice and deepening of professional judgement. The empowering aspects of theorising will be explored and, their and potential translationin social work practice. This module lays the foundations for practice by considering some of the essential knowledge, values and methods necessary in work with people. Agencies will often determine the purpose of contact and interpret their own roles and functions in respect of legislation and governmental guidance. However as individual workers we have to take some responsibility for our own learning and skill set with service users in community, residential, group or individual settings. Historical, cultural, institutional and personal values infuse all that we do and require careful analysis in order to avoid the unthinking imposition of inappropriate norms and habits. The ethics of what we do together with basic value perspectives and their contestable nature requires consideration. We explore the way theorising underpins effective practice and lies at the heart of the function of social work. The module will include some consideration of theorising from an international and global perspective. "Good theorising" requires students to develop analytical and argumentative skills. This module introduces some of these themes but further learning opportunities are necessary to develop them.


The syllabus will include the following: -360b7 Theorising for Social Work: definitions, concepts and debates b7 The value of theorising for social work b7 Exploring the foundations of the social work knowledge base b7 What is a good or bad theory? b7 Theoretical perspectives applicable in working with service users b7 Psychological theorising for social work b7 Sociological theorising for social work b7 Applying theory to case contexts and issues b7 Translating theoretical perspectives to practice b7 Global perspectives on theorising for social work

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:" Understand critically what is meant by theorising for social work" Describe and analyse the underpinning influences on the social work knowledge base." Identify and analyse how theory is generated, developed and applied. " Understand and analyse the relevance of the social work value base to the selection and application of theory." Develop a critical understanding of the potential for empowerment ideas in social work practice." Identify the range of theoretical perspectives in working with service users In addition to above noted learning outcomes students will be made aware of the expectations of the Supervised Direct Practice Module and have time to consider in what way module teaching and learning translates into practice. Successful completion of the Theorising in Social Work Module is essential for students to commence the Direct Practice Module.Similar to all Social Work Modules on this Programme the Learning Outcomes will link to the required Standards in Social Work Education. (SiSWE). This link to SiSWE will be explored further in the course of the Module and will enable students to be much more aware of the links between what is learned on the programme and what is expected in practice.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

In line with University and School strategies, the Module comprises of different but related components. The taught or didactic element is delivered largely through lectures which take place on a weekly basis. A further element of the teaching and learning strategy is the seminar programme where the students will be given relevant material to supplement the lectures and further enhance learning. The seminar programme will enable group discussion of the supplementary material such as journal articles.. It is also expected that students devote time to reading relevant literature, develop analytical skills and consider how these apply in practice settings. Theorising for Social Work is one of three Modules that Undergraduate students l attend this semester with each module l placing a set of demands on the student in terms of time, resources and effort. It is therefore essential that students engage in good time management skills, apportioning their independent learning time wisely, balancing competing demands and assessment requirements. The final aspect of this Module involves an assessment which comprises one summative element. A subsequent section on this assessment will provide all necessary information.

Indicative Reading

Clark, C.L.,2000. Social Work Ethics: Politics, Principles and Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Davies M, (Editor), 2007, The Blackwell Companion to Social Work. 3rd ed, Blackwell, London Fook, J, & Gardner, F., 2007. Practising Critical Reflection. Berkshire: Open University Press Gray, M. & Webb, S.A. (2013) Social Work Theories and Methods, Sage, London Healy, K. (2005) Social Work Theories in Context: Creating Frameworks for Practice, Palgrave Macmillan. Howe, D., 2009. A Brief Introduction to Social Work Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Jones, S., 2009. Critical Learning for Social Work Students. Exeter: Learning Matters Oko, J., 2011. Understanding and Using Theory in Social Work. 2 nd ed. Exeter: Learning Matters, Blackwell Philp, M (1979) 'Notes on the Form of Knowledge in Social Work' The Sociological Review, Volume 27, Issue 1, <> pages 83-111, February. Parton, N & O'Byrne, P., 2000. Constructive Social Work: Towards a New Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Payne, M., 2005. Modern Social Work Theory. 3 rd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Stepney, P. and Ford, D. (2012) Social work models, methods and theories: Russell House Publishing

Transferrable Skills

The following are transferable skills: -360b7 Analytical, argumentative and conceptual thinking b7 Knowledge of the uses, explanations and processes involved in theorising b7 Critical reflection and critical writing skills b7 Working and debating in small groups

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 156.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 100.00 50% One written essay that conforms with the required submission guidelines