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SWSP4003 Advanced Social Research

Level: Bachelor (Honours)
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: BESC3061 (Credit); Distinction average across all Level 200 and 300 units; Successful completion of all Level 100,200 and 300 units
Mode(s) of delivery: Online
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

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

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is nine hours per week. This includes twelve weeks of 3 hours of class time on Zoom. One hour will be didactive material delivered in lecture format via Zoom. Two hours will be interactive class time, for discussion of the lecture, readings, assessments and class activities. Material will be available in the online class space. In addition to the 3 hours of class time, students are expected to engage in 6 hours of private study per week.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify an academic research question and design a research project to investigate this question.
  2. Contextualise research in current thinking and research.
  3. Understand ethical issues and ethical guidelines for conducting social work research.
  4. Demonstrate beginning skills for analysing data of either a qualitative or quantitative nature.
  5. Prepare a research proposal that will constitute a first draft of the first two chapters of the Honours thesis.
  6. Prepare an ethics application.

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

  • Alston, M., & Bowles, W. (2019). Research for social workers: an introduction to methods (Third edition.).

  • Bryman, A. (2016). Social research methods (Fifth edition.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Students have access to these through class space.


  • 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.