SWSP6083 Research Project

Level: Master
Credit Points: Twelve
Prerequisites: MSW(Q): SWSP6003 and SWSP6013; MSW: No prerequisites
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit introduces students to an advanced understanding of social research practice aimed at influencing practice and policy outcomes. Students will explore the research process and discuss a range of social research methods including qualitative and quantitative techniques. Students will gain an understanding of the theoretical and ethical considerations of undertaking social research and undertake an individual research project linking theory with practice.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is 18 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. Articulate the components required to undertake a research project.
  2. Undertake a research project and demonstrate in-depth knowledge of at least one major social issue and how research can influence change.
  3. Evaluate ethical issues and ethical guidelines for conducting social work research.
  4. Analyse the socio-political and cultural context for undertaking research and its influence on the policy process.
  5. Articulate the relationship between social research, social policy and social work practice.

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

Literature Review


1,500 words



Research Plan


1,500 words


1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Report


9,000 words (including 3,000 words from Tasks 1 and 2)


1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Process Diary


1,000 words


1, 2, 5


Recommended Texts

  • Alston, M., & Bowles, W. (2012). Research for social workers: An introduction to methods (3rd ed.). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Babbie, E. (2010). The practice of social research (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Baldock, J., Mitton, L., Manning, N., & Vickerstaff, S. (Eds.) (2010). Social policy (4th ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  • Becker, S., Bryman, A., & Ferguson, H. (Eds.) (2012). Understanding research for social policy and social work: Themes, methods and approaches (2nd ed.). Bristol, England: The Policy Press.
  • Brown, L., & Strega, S. (Eds.) (2005). Research as resistance: Critical, indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  • Cunningham. S., & Cunningham, J. (2012). Social policy and social work: An introduction. London, England: Learning Matters.
  • Fawcett, B. (2010). Social policy for social change. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2010). Mixed methods research: Merging theory with practice. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Hesse-Biber, S. N. (Ed.) (2012). The handbook of feminist research: Theory and Praxis (2nd ed.). London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Humphries, B. (2008). Social work research for social justice. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Iphofen, R. (2009). Ethical decision-making in social research: A practical guide. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mathews, I., & Crawford, K. (2012). Evidence-based practice in social work. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.
  • McCelland, A., & Smyth, P. (Eds.) (2009). Social policy in Australia: Understanding for action (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.  
  • Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. (2011). Research methods for social work (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  • Shaw, I., Briar-Lawson, K. Orme, J. & Ruckdeschel, R. (Ed.) (2010). The SAGE handbook on social work research. London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Smith, R. (2009). Doing social work research. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.
  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2009). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London, England: Zed Books. 
  • Tripodi, T., & Potocky-Tripodi, M. (2007). International social work research: Issues and prospects. 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.