SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MML526326
Module Leader Martin Kettle
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Social Work
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)
  • C (May start)
  • A (September start)-B (January start)
  • B (January start)-C (May start)

Summary of Content

This module aims to place the activity of social work in its legal and policy context. In order to do this, there requires to be exploration of: -360b7 The origins of social work (its history and politics) b7 The process of development and implementation of policy and legislation b7 The Scottish legal system as it applies to social work b7 How the law and policy applies to social work practice As well as addressing the broader legal and policy context of social work, the module will explore in more detail the different legal and policy contexts for a range of service user groups, including children and families, criminal justice and adult social work.


Over eleven sessions the module will cover: -360b7 The history and politics of social work in Scotland b7 The process of the development of policy and legislation as it relates to social work, including tensions and dilemmas arising from that process. b7 The relationship between law and ethics b7 Specific aspects of policy and legislation, including -360d8 Children and families d8 Criminal justice d8 Adult social work, including Self Directed Support and support to informal carers d8 Substance misuse d8 Integration of Health and Social Care Each of these areas will be explored in detail and connections made to the other modules in this trimester.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the legal and policy context of social work in Scotland2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between policy, legislation and social justice3. Critically evaluate how social work law and policy applies to different service user groups4. Critically evaluate the legal mandate of the social worker5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical issues in social work practice6. Synthesise and apply knowledge acquired over the course of the module to one of a series of case studies

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The teaching and learning strategy employed in this module is based upon theories of adult learning which recognize the increasing responsibility and autonomy that is associated with study at Masters level. The range of approaches used in the module include small group learning, lectures on key themes, seminars, on-line activities, student presentations, guided reading and individual learning. Principles of constructive alignment underpin the relationship between teaching activities and assessed work. Teaching sessions will involve eleven three-hour blocks integrating student-led work. Material relevant to the module will be available on GCU Learn allowing for preparation and independent learning. Students will be expected to follow a programme of reading linked to lecture input and seminar topics. Students will present material at seminars and participate in critical discussion of subject matter. Deep forms of learning will be encouraged through the use of active, participative approaches in classroom work, group work and self-directed learning. In addition, student groups will present short presentations on given topics at the end of the module. Lectures will provide overviews and frameworks of the subject matter and guides to further reading and areas for exploration. However, at Masters level, lectures cannot in themselves provide all the information that students need to know to effectively. Seminars will operate on the basis that students have read relevant material in preparation. Self-directed learning is therefore essential.

Indicative Reading

This is an indicative reading list, and given the dynamic nature of law and policy as it relates to social work will require to be updated annually. More detail will be provided for each of the subject areas. Brodie, I., Nottingham, C. and Plunkett, S . (2008) A Tale of Two Reports: Social Work in Scotland from Social Work and the Community (1966) to Changing Lives (2006), British Journal of Social Work , 38, 697-715 . Congreave, E., (2019). Poverty in Scotland 2019 , York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Daniel, B and Scott, J., (2018) 50th Anniversary: Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 , Edinburgh, Social Work Scotland. Davis, R. & Gordon, J. (2010) Social Work and the Law in Scotland , Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. Turbett, C. (2018) Community Social Work in Scotland: A Critical History , Glasgow: IRISS. Dickens, J. (2010) Social Work and Social Policy , Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge. Harris, J. (2003) The Social Work Business Gray, M. and Webb, S. (2013) (2nd edn) Social Work Theories and Methods , London, Sage. Guthrie, T. (2018) Social Work Law in Scotland . Bloomsbury Professional, Haywards Heath. Horner, N (2009) What is Social Work? (3rd edn) Exeter, Learning Matters Lavalette, M. and Ferguson I. (2007) International Social Work and the Radical Tradition , London, Venture Press Lavalette, M. (2011) Radical social work today: Social work at the crossroads , Bristol, Policy Press McDonald, C. (2006) Challenging Social Work: The Institutional Context of Practice Payne, M. (2005) The Origins of Social Work . London, Palgrave Macmillan. Payne, M. (2006) What is Professional Social Work? London, Bristol, Policy Press . Price, V and Simpson, G. (2007) Transforming Society: Social Work and Sociology. Bristol, Policy Press . Smith, N., Nairn, R., and Patrick, H. (eds) (2016) Adult Protection and the Law in Scotland , Bloomsbury Professional, Haywards Heath. Thompson, N. (2015) Understanding Social Work , London, Palgrave Macmillan. Wilson, K. et al (2011) Social Work: An introduction to contemporary practice , Pearson Education, Harlow. Chapter 3 pp 48 - 74 . Grey Literature Given the nature of this area, there will be grey literature that is relevant here, for example reports produced by the Care Inspectorate. Students are encouraged to refer to the Grey Literature pages on the Library website <>

Transferrable Skills

-360 1. Develop critical evaluation skills relating to policy and practice data 2. Develop communication skills in group and 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 (FT) 10.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Lectures (FT) 21.00
Independent Learning (FT) 99.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 100.00 50% Written assignment (3500 words)