Course Title: Social Work Field Education 1 (Advanced)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Social Work Field Education 1 (Advanced)

Credit Points: 36.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Distance / Correspondence or Face-to-Face

Sem 1 2007,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2009,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 2 2011

Course Coordinator: Judy Williams

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 3060

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Previously completed undergraduate degree, 2 years work experience & completion of relevant MSW courses.

Course Description

Field Education 1 is a major component of the Masters of Social Work program. It is aimed at preparing students for effective beginning professional practice. Through this course, and its companion Field Education 2, students will have the opportunity to strengthen and develop their professional skills, knowledge and values within a workplace-learning environment.

In Field Education 1 there is an emphasis upon preparing students for beginning professional practice. Ordinarily, the placement will focus on direct service work with individuals, families or groups. Students are required to demonstrate an ability to effectively engage with services users, peers and colleagues. They will also demonstrate an understanding of organizational and community contexts of practice, as well as effectively dealing with the implications these contexts have for service delivery and the ethical dilemmas that are likely to be encountered.

MSW students are also expected to be able to analyse practice situations by drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives, in particular those concerning power and exclusion, and to develop appropriate responses.

The Field Education course requires students to actively draw from previous knowledge and experience when determining their specific learning goals while they are on their field placements. This includes integrating previously studied material, especially in relation to social (work) theory and practice, but also prior workplace learning. The Casework, Counselling and Advocacy course also provides a structured opportunity for students to have interaction between university and agency-based learning.

Ideally, students will complete at least three MSW courses (including Critical Social Work and Casework, Counselling and Advocacy) before they enter placement. However, to account for a range of entry points and experience, students may be able to negotiate a more flexible pathway into Field Education 1 with the Field Co-ordinator.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The Field Education courses (1 & 2) occupy a special and central place within the RMIT MSW program. Between them, they encompass most of the capabilities of the program that inform student experiences. Field education is weighted this way (72 credit points in total) because it provides students with opportunities to develop and integrate their professional capabilities in practice. It also allows students to demonstrate their ability to be assessed across the range of capabilities while working within at least two different workplace settings.

Both Field Education courses are linked to core courses scheduled in the MSW program. These links are important because they allow students to integrate their knowledge, skills and values into practice. Students are expected to connect their practice experiences with their classroom based learning, and vice-versa. This requires students to import academic learning (undertaken in their undergraduate courses and the current MSW course) into the field, as well as bringing their field learning in to the academy.

Ordinarily, Field Education 1 has an emphasis on direct work with service users whereas Field Education 2 usually focuses on macro level practice, mostly in areas dedicated to developing policies, conducting research or building communities. Students who follow this pathway will note that Field Education 1 links most with the courses, Critical Social Work (Social Work Theory and Practice I) Casework, Counselling and Advocacy (Social Work Theory and Practice II) and Social Work with Groups (Social Work Theory and Practice III). Critical Social Work provides the main theoretical models and perspectives for practice while Casework, Counselling and Advocacy and Social Work with Groups extend students’ theoretical understanding of work with individuals, families and groups, and facilitates the development of direct practice skills.

In some cases students will have a broader focus for Field Education 1 (and direct practice focus for FE2); this would be negotiated with the Field Education Coordinator and would depend on relevant undergraduate studies, prior work place experience and relevant courses undertaken in MSW program.

At the conclusion of the course (placement) students will have demonstrated:

beginning capability across the 9 Learning Areas by end of placement appropriate to the placement setting, Students will together with their field educator develop a learning plan that identifies tasks and way to measure performance against each of the broad assessment areas.

At the conclusion of the course (placement) students will have demonstrated:

Basic competency, appropriate to the placement setting, in all 9 areas of assessment as outlined in the Learning and Assessment Plan. Students will together with their field educator develop a learning plan that identifies tasks and way to measure performance against each of the broad assessment areas.

  1. Values and Ethics: Awareness of contextually relevant ethics in accordance with the AASW Code of Ethics. Demonstrates that the values of social work are integral to their practice, upholds ethical responsibilities and acts appropriately when faced with ethical problems, issues and dilemmas.
  2. Organisational and Community Context: An understanding of the organisational, legal and political contexts of human services.
  3. Policy: An understanding of social policies which influence the different fields of practice including knowledge of relevant legislative and policy frameworks.
  4. Use of Knowledge in Practice: An understanding of theories and methods relevant to practice and an ability to reflect critically upon their use and practice.
  5. Self-Learning and Critical Reflection: The ability to take responsibility for one’s own learning and development including the skills to manage one’s future career and the transition from university to professional practice.
  6. Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively and relate interpersonally with a diverse range of people in a diverse range of settings.
  7. Assessment and Intervention skills: Demonstrated ability to engage service users in the assessment and intervention process, and respond to varying capabilities, voluntary/involuntary status, and the choices available.
  8. Research: Recognition of research as an integral part of social work practice; demonstrating knowledge and understanding of all types and stages of social research.
  9. Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Practice: Develop understanding and knowledge of cultural diversity in order to work in a culturally responsive and inclusive way.

Overview of Learning Activities

In accordance with the requirements of the professionally accrediting body for fieldwork (AASW), the learning activities will be provided through a placement structure that consists of 70 days (or equivalent) supervised practice in a relevant organization.

Overview of Learning Activities:

A) Field Briefings and other preparatory work;
B) 70-Day Field Placement
C) Integration seminars
D) Learning/Educational Plan
E) Mid and End of Placement Reviews
F) Critical Analysis -3,000 words

Overview of Learning Resources

MSW Field Education 1(advanced) Course Guide

MSW Field Education Manual

Field Education website

Student directed reading (see list of references below as a starting point.)

Overview of Assessment

  • Active participation at placement orientation session/s
  • Active participation at integration seminars
  • Satisfactory completion of the 70 Day Field Placement, or equivalent. This includes the satisfactory completion of the Learning/Educational Plan and Mid and End of Placement Reviews. (The Placement Report is central to this requirement)
  • Satisfactory completion of an evaluation report on placement performance (Placement Report)
  • Satisfactory completion of a Critical Analysis (Practice) -3000 words. Submitted within two weeks of the end of the placement.