Course Title: Ethical, Legal and Organisational Contexts of Social Work Practice

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Ethical, Legal and Organisational Contexts of Social Work Practice

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Please note that this course may have compulsory in-person attendance requirements for some teaching activities. 

To participate in any RMIT course in-person activities or assessment, you will need to comply with RMIT vaccination requirements which are applicable during the duration of the course. This RMIT requirement includes being vaccinated against COVID-19 or holding a valid medical exemption. 

Please read this RMIT Enrolment Procedure as it has important information regarding COVID vaccination and your study at RMIT: 

Please read the Student website for additional requirements of in-person attendance:

Please check your Canvas course shell closer to when the course starts to see if this course requires mandatory in-person attendance. The delivery method of the course might have to change quickly in response to changes in the local state/national directive regarding in-person course attendance.


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 1 2022

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Ronnie Egan

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1105

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course will introduce you to generic professional social work practice skills required in workplaces providing human services. It will focus on the meso level of social work practice with an emphasis on professional, ethical, legal and organisational aspects of practice operating in a market economy. 

Social work practice occurs within a legislative and policy context, available funding and resources shaped by broader socio political and technical environments. This course will analyse how the social work profession, the law and workplaces shape practice and the importance of understanding context in order to manage the competing demands of practice. Based on principles of human rights and social justice, this course introduces you to the practice knowledge and skills required for professional practice in human service practice settings. In particular, you will learn to identify and respond to the tensions, conflicts and ambiguities which are ever present in social work practice. 

You will have the opportunity to develop skills needed for operating in the meso level of social work practice with an emphasis on professional, ethical, legal and organisational contexts of practice operating in a market economy.

Through a series of case studies from different contexts you will examine administrative ethics and accountability in your work with vulnerable populations. The workshops will debate and experiment with responses to critical incidents and complaints taking into account your professional responsibilities and legal/organisational demands. The practice of supervision will be evaluated in order to navigate challenges faced in the workplace

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes 

In course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:  

  • Use appropriate research strategies to inform ethical professional social work practice and to broaden the scope of contemporary social work theory and practice 
  • Apply sophisticated oral and written communication skills to present complex information to individuals, organisations and professional and non-professional communities in accessible and culturally appropriate ways 
  • Engage in practice which acknowledges the fundamentally multicultural nature of contemporary societies and acknowledges the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, seeking to promote the rights of these groups 
  • Practice as an autonomous, ethical and critical social work practitioner with a commitment to lifelong learning 

Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  1. examine the Australian Association of Social Work’s Code of ethics and demonstrate a capacity to translate this into ethical social work practice through a model of ethical decision making
  2. analyse the key legal considerations in social work practice including privacy, natural justice and specialist legal referral 
  3. explore and analyse ways in which the human service organisational context influences social work practice by critically analysing and reflecting on the tensions and dilemmas of working in organisations
  4. articulate the importance of social work supervision and working collaboratively across organisations
  5. demonstrate in writing and presentation, your readiness to undertake Field education 1  

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves a range of activities including and online such as online  lectures,  and workshops using a variety of contemporary practice based scenarios to integrate theory and practice and prepare for placement. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems

A range of learning resources will support your learning including: 

  • Lecture input followed by experiential workshops 
  • Case studies as a means of demonstrating the concepts introduced 
  • Models of critical reflection as a way of deconstructing the tensions inherent between organisational demands and professional requirements 
  • Weekly online lecture input to be viewed before each workshop and experiential workshops will demonstrate the links between the concepts and practice 

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. 

Assessment tasks

Assignment 1: Presentation (oral or written) (20%) CLOs 1-5

Assignment 2:  Essay (45%) Ethical contexts of social work practice CLOs 1,3 and 5, 3000 words 

Assignment 3:  Legal scenario based  written analysis (35%) CLOs  3, 4 and 5, 1500 words 

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks. 

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more. 

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.