Course Title: Critical Approaches to Social Work

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Critical Approaches to Social Work

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 1 2022

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Bawa Kuyini

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3131

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8. Floor 10. Room 33

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required Prior Study 

You should have satisfactorily completed HWSS2090 History and Trends in Social Work and HWSS2091 Social Work Practice (Introduction to Social Work Practice) before you commence this course.

Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge before you start this course.  

For your information go to RMIT Course Requisites webpage.  

Course Description

This course introduces critical approaches to social work practice. Critical approaches theorise the ways in which our experience and possibilities are shaped by history, language, culture and institutions, with particular attention to power relationships and social inequalities. You will explore the range of theoretical perspectives that are drawn together under the heading of ‘critical social work practice’, understanding their origins, scope of application and limitations. You will analyse contemporary social problems to identify the assumptions they make about human wellbeing and the social world. You will explore the application of principles of critical social work in practice. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes  

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:   

  • Participate robustly in contemporary and changing ideological and political debates impacting on society, in an informed, flexible and grounded manner to evaluate policy and/or engage in policy debates 
  • Apply a body of interdisciplinary knowledge, values and skills in working with and for society’s most vulnerable and marginalised individuals, families, groups and communities 
  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on issues of social disadvantage, marginalisation and oppression in both local and international contexts, and proactively work to promote social justice and human rights 
  • Demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and practical reasoning when identifying and solving problems in diverse contexts within the discipline of social work

Course Learning Outcomes  

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

  1. Locate critical approaches to social work practice and their philosophical and political bases in the history of social work theory development and the history of ideas
  2. Identify the assumptions about human beings and society underpinning contemporary ideological and political debates in social welfare policy
  3. Consider the relationship between social structures and contemporary social inequalities
  4. Critically analyse how power relationships, history and language frame the experience of individuals, families, groups and communities
  5. Recognise the scope and limitations of critical approaches to social work 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves a range of activities including lectures, tutorials, group and class discussion, group activities and individual research.

Overview of Learning Resources

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

A list of recommended learning resources will be provided on Canvas, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.

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 

Assessment Task 1: Two open book tests, 50% EWL 1,500 words,  CLO1, CLO2 and CLO3 

Assessment Task 2: Essay, 50%, EWL 2,500 words, CLO4 and CLO5 

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.