SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MML526327
Module Leader Shelley Buckley
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Social Work
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

The module seeks to present a critical perspective on research and evidence in social work. An initial exploration explores the role of evidence in social work practice and adopts a critical perspective on what counts as evidence in social work. The module then goes on to explore the foundations of research in social work and seeks to initially explore contextual issues around theoretical and ethical underpinnings of social work research. Research methods will also be explored in detail, with an overview of the differing approaches in the social work research field. There will be coverage of the steps and stages of the research process, with emphasis on devising a research question, designing and implementing research design, and on selection of methods. Students will cover data analysis both for quantitative and qualitative approaches, with examples and exercises used to develop practical understanding. The module will include some practical sessions related to undertaking research. Students will gain experience in critiquing research as well as in developing a research proposal which either will be (i) proposing and planning empirical research or (ii) proposing and planning a critical review, both of which should be relevant to social work.


-360b7 The place of evidence in social work practice and debates around evidence- based practice. -360b7 The nature of social work research: its contribution to policy and practice -360b7 Theoretical underpinnings of research. b7 Essential features of quantitative research including analysis. b7 Essential features of qualitative research including analysis b7 Examples of approaches to research: e.g. phenomenology, ethnography, documentary analysis b7 Examples of social work research including practitioner research. b7 Examples of critical reviews of topics relevant to social work. b7 Ethical contexts and ethical procedures related to social work research b7 Developing a research proposal: empirical analysis or critical review

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Critically engage with the role of evidence in social work practice2. Demonstrate critical awareness of the theoretical underpinnings of research3. Demonstrate critical understanding of the key features of the research process4. Demonstrate skills in critical appraisal of research5. Demonstrate understanding of the key features of quantitative and qualitative research methods6. Demonstrate originality and creativity in the development of a research proposal on a topic relevant to social work.7. Critically engage with the role of evidence in social work practice

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be taught in a series of workshops, running alongside the first Supervised Direct Practice placement. These workshops will be a mixture of didactic input and groupwork activities around, for example, critiquing research publications. The module will be supported by specialist library staff in terms of developing search strategies, and graduates and current members of staff will offer input on their experience of the research process. All of this will be oriented towards the production of a research proposal, which will be produced in poster format. In addition, as this module runs alongside the Supervised Direct Practice placement students will be encouraged to critically explore the links between practice, evidence and research.

Indicative Reading

Essential Alston, M. and Bowles, W. (2013) Research for Social Workers , 3 rd ed. London, Routledge. Optional Carey, R (2013) The Social Work Dissertation: Using Small-Scale Qualitative Methodology , 2 nd ed.,Open University Press/McGraw Hill Creswell, J., (2014) A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research, London, Sage. Davis, C. (2013) SPSS Step by Step: Essentials for Social and Political Science , Bristol, Policy Press. Hardwick, L.; Worsley, A. (2011) Doing Social Work Research , London, Sage Mathews, I; Crawford, K (2011) Evidence-based Practice in Social Work , Exeter, Learning Matters. Mills, J and Birks, M, (2014) Qualitative Methodology: A Practical Guide, London, Sage . Taylor, B, Killick, C. and McGlade, A., (2015) Understanding and Using Research in Social Work . Exeter, Learning Matters. Teater, B et al., (2016) Quantitative Research Methods for Social Work: Making Social Work Count, London, Palgrave. Whittaker, A. (2012) Research Skills for Social Work , 2 nd Ed., Exeter, Learning Matters. This will be supplemented by more targeting reading and recommendation of journal articles that will be as contemporary as possible.

Transferrable Skills

Applying basic statistical techniques Critically reviewing research papers individually and within group Critiquing research methodologies Information retrieval Critically applying research methods Developing an ethics proposal Critically understanding the research process Developing a research proposal

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 80.00
Assessment (FT) 26.00
Seminars (FT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Poster Presentation n/a 100.00 50% Poster outlining research proposal