SWSP6033 Social Work Theory and Practice (Individuals and Families)

Level: Master
Credit Points: 6 (out of a total of 96)
Prerequisites: none
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit explores the complexity of practice faced by social workers engaged in individual and family work with the aim to work towards effective outcomes for their individual and social wellbeing, and life chances. In this course you will harness your critical social work skills and explore the practical considerations of ethical dilemmas, cultural identity, power and gender analysis when working with individuals and families. You will investigate the application of using Anti-Oppressive theory, with a strengths based practice framework when working in a range of different fields of practice, with child protection forming the main practical focus.  Students will be invited to engage in critical personal reflection of their understanding of family, challenge the construction of what family means and explore the changing social, cultural, political and historical context in which practice decisions are made. 

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. Explore critical and anti-oppressive theory to direct practice with individuals and families.
  2. Link current social, cultural and political conditions to the complexity of working with individual and family issues.
  3. Critically explore the values, assumptions and challenges linked to working with families that present with complex/ multiple issues in the community, and range of social work responses.
  4. Demonstrate a critical analysis of understanding ethical challenges relating to culture, gender, and power and strategies to work in a anti-oppressive, strengths based/ solution focused manner.
  5. Apply practice skills, assessment skills, resource & networking skills to working with individuals and families
  6. Consideration of the challenge working critically within the current socio-political culture of managerialism and neo-liberalism.

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

  • Adams, R. (Ed.) (2011). Working with children and families: Knowledge and context for practice. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. 
  • Maidment, J., & Egan, R. (2016). Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense (3rd ed.). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Recommended Readings

  • To be provided by your educator.


  • 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.