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SWSP3063 Philosophy and Critical Reflection

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 asks students to explore philosophy to inform their practice. The aim of this unit is to challenge the developing professional to create a vision beyond the current status quo with skills that incorporate working with uncertainty and ideological challenges with creativity and innovation. Links between critical reflection and philosophical practices are also 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. Exercise a degree of curiosity, cynicism and skepticism about moral arguments, dogma and social conventions.
  2. Articulate a working knowledge about the nature of the world and how such knowledge is constructed and for what purpose.
  3. Question the notion of human agency against current and past philosophical debates.
  4. Mount a logical and reasoned argument about values, human rights, and social justice to promote human flourishment.
  5. Link critical reflection with philosophical practices.
  6. Critique the efficacy of social work and its ideological and ethical position in light of philosophical logic. 

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 Project Plan


500 words


1, 2, 3

Presentation of Research Project Plan




1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Project Presentation




1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Reflective Essay


1,000 words


1, 5, 6


Recommended Text

  • Benton, T., & Craig, I. (2011). The philosophy of social science: The philosophical foundation of social thought. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Recommended Readings

  • Allan, J., Pease, B., & Briskman, L. (Eds.) (2009). Critical social work: an introduction to theories and practices (2nd ed.). Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Brown, K. (2006). Critical thinking for social work. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.
  • Delanty, G., & Strydom, P. (Eds.) (2003). Philosophies of social science: The classic and contemporary readings. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.
  • Fook, J., & Gardner, F. (2007). Practising critical reflection: A resource handbook. New York, NY: Open University Press.
  • Gambrill, E. (2013). Social work practice: A critical thinker’s guide (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Garvey, J. & Stangroom, J. (2012). The story of philosophy: A history of western thought. London, England: Quercus Editions.
  • Ling, H. K., Martin, J., & Ow, R. (Eds.) (2014). Cross-cultural social work: Local and global. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Manicas, P.  (2006). A realist philosophy of social science: Explanation and understanding. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Rosenberg, A. (2012). Philosophy of social science (4th ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Smith, S. (Ed.) (2007). Applying theory to policy and practice: Issues for critical reflection. London, England: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Steel, D., & Guala, F. (Eds.) (2011). The philosophy of social science reader. London, England: Routledge.
  • Stewart, D., & Blocker, H. G. (2006). The fundamentals of philosophy (6th ed.). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Walkerdine, V. (Ed.) (2002). Challenging subjects: Critical psychology for a new millennium. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.


  • 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.