Course Title: Social Work Research (Social Work Theory and Practice 4C)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Social Work Research (Social Work Theory and Practice 4C)

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban & Social Studies


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014

Course Coordinator: Dr Sonia Martin

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 3483

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 8.7.14

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

All BSW courses except for Field Education 2

Course Description

This course is about how social workers might conceptualise research and use particular research methodologies with a view to working towards a fairer, more just and humane society. Building on knowledge developed in the earlier years of the Bachelor of Social Work, this course is deliberately linked to field education so that you are able to consider how you might undertake a research project in a social work agency.

With all other methods of social work, research is not an innocent or neutral endeavour. The politics of research, including the politics of particular theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and attendant practices are, therefore, pivotal to this course. Figuring out how to conduct research in an ethical manner is part of the process. Demonstrating an ability to communicate well with others – including others who hold different views and/or interests in research – is another dimension of the course.

This course builds on Program Planning & Evaluation, taught in the previous semester of the Bachelor of Social Work. The aim of this course is to extend the knowledge you have already developed about the practice of social research. This will be done through the application and critical analysis of various philosophical, methodological and practical approaches to research.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

In addition to gaining and broadening practical research skills and techniques, the course is designed to enable you to develop the capacity for critical reflection. One of the ways this will be done is through the linking of research activities with your field education experiences.

In addition, the course will:

  • Introduce you to a range of different types of research, reflecting different epistemological and ontological assumptions
  • Model for you the political and ethical imperative underpinning a critical social work approach to research – placing the interests of vulnerable and disadvantaged people at the forefront of research.
  • Model for you some of the means of engaging in research congruent with the values and principles of critical social work

Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Judge the politics of research for practice (i.e. research that you might draw on to inform your practice)
  • Judge the ethics of research for practice.
  • Analyse the intellectual merit of research for practice.
  • Investigate and critique the methodological rigour of research for practice

Overview of Learning Activities

Lectures and workshop activities.

The learning experiences include four intensive days that provide a forum for full-engagement with the course material and in a manner that complements field education. The program has been designed with a good mix of practical ‘case’ material and theoretical input, using didactic presentations, guided reading, discussion and reflection, web resources and your own field experiences.

The content of assessment tasks will be closely connected with class work and supported by in class activities.

Learning activities will include interactive workshop activities focusing on group-based discussion and scenarios that concentrate on the development of research skills and their relevance to professional practice. Course learning materials will be made available in a range of formats, which may include lectures, guest speakers and online resources.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. In addition a reading pack will be made available.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program capabilities. Assessment includes Reflective Journals, Peer-assessed Presentations and development of a Research Proposal.

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 the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
  • A student charter  summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: