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SWSP1003 Introduction to Human Services

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: None
Mode(s) of Delivery: Online
Core/Elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit introduces students to the human services sector. It will identify the historical factors, theories, philosophical and legal building blocks that shaped its development and underpin its policies and service provision, currently. Theories and debates will be explored within specific fields of practice and specific population groups. The role of social welfare workers within and outside the state will be explored. The ways in which legal processes, framework and responsibilities are framed within social work's role and responsibilities is outlined and future concerns are identified.

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. Describe the historical development of the welfare state and the role of human service workers play both within and outside the state.
  2. Identify key theories and debates as well as key legislative judgements and analyse their impact on service provision, service users and human service workers.
  3. Describe the nature of disadvantage and how this discourse marginalises certain social and cultural groups, such as women, young people, refugees, people with disabilities, the unemployed, the homeless, elderly, remote communities and Indigenous Australians and their responses to this marginalisation.
  4. Describe how Government policies and practices and legal requirements are developed and delivered to address disadvantage.
  5. Articulate an analysis of how effective practice and policy responses are and the challenges posed by the push towards globalisation, privatisation and neo-liberalism.
  6. Articulate contemporary practice strategies for working in the human services that work towards the broader goal of social justice and human rights, and individual and community advocacy and empowerment. 
  7. Explore the many issues facing the Australian welfare state for the future.

Learning and Teaching Process

This unit is taught over 12 weeks and totals 3 student contact hours per week.

Students will participate in teaching and learning activities including:

a)   Lectures and critical discussion

b)   Tutorials and skill development activities

c)   Online pre-learning activities

d)   Online post-learning

 Depending on the delivery mode, this unit’s content is delivered to students via

  • A weekly 3 hour learning session [via Zoom]. One hour will be didactive material delivered in lecture format. Two hours will be interactive class time, for discussion of the lecture, readings, assessments and class activities.

 In addition to timetabled contact hours, students are expected to do at least 6 hours of personal study each week to review lectures and read prescribed and recommended materials for this unit. The total individual workload of this unit will be around 9 hours (including teamwork, individual self-study and reading).


Recommended Texts

  • Alston, M., McCurdy, S., & McKinnon, J. (Eds.) (2018). Social work fields of practice (3rd ed.). Oxford Uni Press.
  • Chenoweth, L ., & McAuliffe, D. (2018). The road to social work and human service practice (5th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.


  • 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 the Academic Misconduct Policy for full details.


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.