SWSP4003 Advanced Social Research

Level: Bachelor (Honours)
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: BESC3061 (Distinction); Credit average across all Level 200 and 300 units; Successful completion of all Level 100 and 200 units
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

Students will be guided in the process of preparing a research proposal for their Honours research.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week. This includes timetabled class time and private study time.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify an academic research question and design a research project to investigate this question.
  2. Contextualise research in current thinking and research.
  3. Understand ethical issues and ethical guidelines for conducting social work research.
  4. Demonstrate beginning skills for analysing data of either a qualitative or quantitative nature.
  5. Prepare a research proposal that will constitute a first draft of the first two chapters of the Honours thesis.
  6. Prepare an ethics application.

Learning and Teaching Approach

  1. Learning is an active process – which involves both questioning and challenging.
  2. Learning is a shared process – where others’ thoughts and ideas are presented, critically analysed, exchanged and respected.
  3. Learning is a collaborative and empowering process for self and others.
  4. Learning is thoughtful and reflective.
  5. Learning requires integration with prior knowledge and other arenas of knowledge development in the program.
  6. Preparation for lectures and seminars and reading the recommended texts and references is essential.

The content of this unit has been designed to maximise both online and face-to-face learning to integrate the subject matter.

Students are expected to:

  • Complete all activities
  • Complete readings
  • Complete all assessments
  • Attend all classes

It is also recommended that students:

  • Keep a record of new terminology that is introduced in this unit
  • Keep a copy of assessments and other correspondence
  • Make notes on unit content and readings

There will be learning activities linked to all lecture materials which are designed to encourage students to deliberate and reflect and to provide opportunities for further learning. The activities are designed to help students think through and practise the specific skills and general concepts presented in this unit as well as provide valuable learning opportunities.

Assessment Summary



Word Count

Week Assessed

Learning Outcomes Assessed

Research Proposal Outline


1,000 words



Draft Literature Review


2,000 words


1, 2

Draft Ethics Application




3, 4, 6

Two Draft Chapters of Honours Thesis


3,000 words


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Recommended Text

  • Alston, M., & Bowles, W. (2012). Research for social workers (3rd ed.). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Recommended Readings

  • Babbie, E. (2010). The practice of social research (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Brown, L. A., & Strega, S. (2005). Research as resistance: Critical, Indigenous and anti-oppressive approaches. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholar Press.
  • D’Cruz, H., &Jones, M. (2014). Social work research in practice (2nd ed.). London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Gerring, J. (2012). Social science methodology: A unified framework (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2010). Mixed methods research: Merging theory with practice. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2012). Handbook of feminist research. London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Humphries, B. (2008). Social work research for social justice. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Iphogen, R. (2009). Ethical decision-making in social research. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mathews, I., & Crawford, J. (2012). Evidence base practice in social work. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.
  • Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. (2011). Research methods for social work. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  • Shaw, I. (2010). The SAGE handbook on social work research. London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Smith, R. (2009). Doing social work research. London, England: Open University Press.
  • Smith Tuhiwai, L. (2009). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. New York, NY: Zed Books.
  • Tripodi, T., & Potocky-Tripodi, M. (2007). International social work research: Issues and projects. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


  • Australian Social Work
  • ADVANCES: Journal of Social Work and Welfare Education
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Critical Social Work
  • Journal of Social Work Education (USA)
  • Journal of Social Work (UK)

Academic Misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to http://currentstudents.acap.edu.au/assets/Managing-My-Course/A-Z-Policies/Academic-Misconduct-Policy.pdf for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the trimester. For a list of required textbooks for the upcoming trimester, please click here.