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. Advocating for social change will be explored through social action theory and practice, building on social justice, community empowerment and anti-oppressive theory and practice approaches and strategies.

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. Acknowledge how diversity and differences within and across communities add to the complexity of community work and the relevance of anti-oppressive theory and practice. 
  3. Critically reflect upon the potential of collaborative alliances and use of networks and partnerships that link individuals with communities and society.
  4. Review and analyse how the dynamics of power and influence can be used in seeking social, economic and political change.
  5. Reflect upon and evaluate examples of innovative community development programs in social housing, indigenous communities, disadvantaged areas and cultural communities
  6. Demonstrate skills for social action, community campaigns and community development – including its strengths and limitations.
  7. Engage with community work practitioners and learn from their experiences and current examples of their activism.
  8. Demonstrate community work skills by completing a project on community work and reflecting on its success/outcome.

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. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Coulshed. V., & Orme, J. (2012). Social work practice (5th ed., pp. 45-65). London, England: Palgrave McMillan.
  • Kenny, S. (2011). Developing communities for the future (4th ed., pp. 342-396). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
  • Ledwith, M., & Asgill, P. (2007). Feminist, anti-racist community development: Critical alliance, local to global. In L. Dominelli (Ed.), Revitalising communities in a globalising world (pp. 107-122). Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing.


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

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.