SWSP6123 Research Methods

Level: Master
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: MSW(Q): SWSP6003 and SWSP6013; MSW: No prerequisites
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
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 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. Articulate the components required to undertake a research project.
  2. Develop and write a research proposal, ethics application, and conduct a literature review.
  3. Evaluate ethical issues and ethical guidelines for conducting social work research.
  4. Analyse the socio-political and cultural context for undertaking research and its influence on the policy process.

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

Literature Review


4,000 words



Research Proposal and Project Management Plan


Up to 4,000 words


1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Ethics Application


Details Outline of Methodology


2,000 words


1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Short Assignments


Not specified

After each session

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Process Diary


Not specified


1, 2, 5


Recommended Texts

  • Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2015). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Recommended Readings

  • To be provided by your educator.


  • Action Research (SAGE)
  • ADVANCES: Journal of Social Work and Welfare Education
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Australian Social Work
  • British Journal of Social Work
  • Critical Social Work
  • Health and Social Care in the Community (UK)
  • Journal of Social Work (UK)
  • Journal of Social Work Education (USA)
  • Journal of Sociology and Social Work
  • Qualitative Social Work
  • Research on Social Work Practice
  • Social Justice Research
  • Systemic Practice and Action Research

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.