SWSP6053 Field Education 1

Level: Master
Credit Points: Eighteen
Prerequisites: SWSP6003 and SWSP6013
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit includes 500 hours of supervised practice in a social service agency. Opportunities to integrate theory with practice will inform this practice-based unit. This unit introduces students to the real world of practice. Students will be placed in agencies where they have the opportunity to utilise the skills developed in the practice units, such as engagement, assessment, and intervention with individuals, families, and small groups. Students are expected to develop practices that take account of the socio-economic structure of people’s lives as well as their psycho-social situation, to gain an understanding of the policy and organisational context of direct practice, and to explore the application of relevant theory and knowledge in the field of practice where they are placed. Agencies and human service organisations such as Child Protection, Centrelink, schools, family and children's services, community health centres, crisis support and/or accommodation services, hospitals, housing services, mental health services and large and small government and NGOs will be utilised for this placement. 

Integrative Seminar: As part of their 500 hours in a social service agency students will attend a 2-hour (fortnightly) practice-theory integration class on campus. These classes are aimed to help students explore the theory/practice relationship and focus on their own experiences and learning opportunities. Further, this unit will: provide a supportive environment for students to discuss personal and professional issues in light of their values, moral, ethics and expectations about their developing roles as social workers; encourage a shared learning environment and develop greater understanding of the links between public issues and private troubles; at the same time encourage individual responsibility for explaining and reflecting on practice issues; and lastly, encourage students to bring to the classroom, learning opportunities from their placement to share with others.

Peer Support: Two peer support groups will be organised for students on placement either face-to-face or on campus.

A Field Education Manual with detailed information on the School of Social Work’s processes, procedures, polices and requirements is made available to current students via the Student Lounge.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is 500 hours, which includes 12 hours of practice-theory integration class.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge relevant to the placement context, organisational structure and function, and the role of social work within this context.
  2. Apply conceptual skills in relating theory to practice.
  3. Work independently and demonstrate initiative.
  4. Recognise the ways in which their values influence responses to particular practice situations.
  5. Identify the ways in which the interests and values of dominant groups determine the definition of, and responses to, service user needs.
  6. Demonstrate specific skills in relation to the particular emphasis of specific placements, i.e. communication skills, writing skills, recording and evaluation skills and organisational and planning skills.
  7. Know how and when to use consultation and supervision.
  8. Demonstrate an emerging capacity for critical reflective practice.
  9. Demonstrate a practice-based awareness of the issues of consumers' service and resource networks associated with their placement agency's functions.
  10. Continually assess the process of intervention in the light of personal and agency ideology and social work values.

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 Texts

  • Giles, R., Irwin, J., Lynch, D., & Waugh, F. (2010). In the field: From learning to practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Social Work Field Education Manual (available from the Student Lounge)

Recommended Readings

  • Australian Learning & Teaching Council (2010). A guide to supervision in social work field education. Sydney, Australia: Creative Australian Learning & Teaching Council.
  • Beddoe, L., & Maidment, J. (2009). Mapping knowledge for social work practice: Critical intersections. South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.
  • Chung, R., & Benak, F. (2012). Social justice counselling: The next step beyond multiculturalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Cleak, H., & Wilson, J. (2013). Making the most of field placements (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.
  • Doel, M., Shardlow, S., & Johnson, P. (2011). Contemporary field social work: Integrating field and classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • 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.
  • Healy, K. (2012). Social work methods and skills: The essential foundations of practice. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jandt, F. (2013). An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • 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.
  • Lister, P. (2012). Integrating social work theory and skills: A practical skills guide. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • 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.
  • Nikku, B. R., & Hatta, Z. A. (Eds.) (2014). Social work education and practice: Scholarship and innovations in the Asia Pacific. Brisbane, Australia: The Primrose Hall Publishing Group.
  • Noble, C., & Henrickson, M. (Eds.) (2011). Social work field education and supervision across Asia Pacific. Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.
  • O’Hara, A., & Pocket, R. (2011). Skills for human service work: Working with individuals, groups and communities. Sydney, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Shulman, L. (2009). The skills of helping individual, families, groups and communities (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
  • Trevithick, P. (2005). Social work skills: A practice handbook (2nd ed.).  Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
  • Wonnacott, J. (2012). Mastering social work supervision. London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


  • 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.