SWSP3053 Social Work Theory and Practice (Community Work and Social Action)

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: Successful completion of a minimum of four Level 200 units
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit introduces students to the philosophies, theory, principles, values, strategies and skills of community work as a way of building capacity in community groups over the long term. This unit of study has a practical component which will enable students to develop their skills as community development practitioners. Individual and societal activism and social change strategies are explored.

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. Demonstrate an understanding of community work, its philosophy, practice context and skills.
  2. Articulate concepts related to community work such as participatory democracy, advocacy, and human rights. 
  3. Acknowledge how diversity and differences within and across communities add to the complexity of community work.
  4. Reflect upon the potential of collaborative alliances and use of partnerships that link individuals with communities.
  5. Identify community resources that mobilise change, especially those that espouse a commitment to social justice and human rights and equity for all.
  6. Demonstrate community work and social action skills by completing a project on community work.

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.


Recommended Text

  • Ife, J. (2013). Community development in an uncertain world: Vision, analysis and practice. Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Chung, R., & Benak, F. (2012). Social justice counselling: The next step beyond multiculturalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Dominelli, L. (Ed.) (2007). Revitalising communities in a globalising world. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Fejo-King, C. (2013). Let’s talk kinship: Innovating Australian social work education, theory, research and practice through Aboriginal knowledge. Torrens, Australia: Christine Fejo-King Consulting.
  • Ife, J. (2012). Human rights and social work: Towards rights-based practice (3rd ed.). Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
  • Jandt, F. (2013). An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Johnson, J., & Grant, G. (Eds.) (2005). Community practice. Boston, MA: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
  • Kenny, S. (2011). Developing communities for the future (4th ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
  • Koprowska, J. (2010). Communication and interpersonal skills in social work. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.
  • Lindsay, T., & Orton, S. (2014). Group work practice in social work (3rd ed.). Exeter, England. Learning Matters.
  • Maidment, J., & Egan, R. (2009). Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Muller, L. (2014). A theory for Indigenous Australian health and human service work: Connecting Indigenous knowledge and practice. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • O’Hara, A., & Pocket, R. (2011). Skills for human service work: Working with individuals, groups and communities. Sydney, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Pawar, M. (2010). Community development in Asia and the Pacific. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Pawar, M., & Cox. D. (2010). Social development: Critical themes and perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Shulman, L. (2009). The skills of helping individual, families, groups and communities (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
  • Twelevetrees, A. (2008). Community work (4th ed.). Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wilks, T. (2012). Advocacy and social work practice. Maidenhead, England: Open 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.