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SP50158: Research for social work: values, methods and contexts

[Page last updated: 01 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • CW100 (CW 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: By the end of the unit students will be able to:
* Identify the main ethical and value dimensions of social work research
* Locate social work research within the organisational and policy context of contemporary social services and integrating services
* Understand how to negotiate pathways relating to ethical permissions and governance in social work research
* Incorporate partnership perspectives, with service users and other stakeholders in the development of research strategies
* Understand contemporary debates concerning emancipatory approaches in social research
* Articulate contrasting models of research dissemination and utilisation in personal social services
* Identify the main contours of the 'evidence-based practice' debate
* Understand contemporary debates relating to reflexivity, reflection and standpoint perspectives in social work research
* Identify complexities and challenges of undertaking comparative social work research.

* To prepare students to undertake social work research in rapidly changing inter-professional and organisational contexts
* To prepare students to integrate into their knowledge of research methodologies an understanding of the underpinning ethical and epistemological dimensions of social work research.
* To prepare students to understand the relationship of research to the development of social work practice, policy and learning.

Skills: Intellectual:
* To think creatively and analytically (f/t/a)
* To communicate an argument (f/a)
* To critically evaluate and assess research and evidence (f/t/a)
* To gather information from a variety of sources (f/a)
* To synthesize information from a number of sources (f/t/a)
* To develop sensitivity to the values and interests of others (f/t/a)
* To apply broad knowledge of research methods to social work issues. (t/a)
Transferable key skills
* Essay research, preparation and writing skills (f/t/a)
* To reflect upon own academic and professional performance (t/a)
Knowledge outcomes
* Knowledge of research processes impinging on service users (t/a)
* Knowledge of the ethical dimensions of social work research(t/a)
* Knowledge of empowerment approaches in social work research (t/a)
* Significance of ethical and governance frameworks (t/a)
* Knowledge of organisational and professonal contexts of social work research (t/a)

* The context of social work research
* Social work values and the conduct of research
* Ethical permissions and research governance in social work
* Power relationships in the production of social work research
* Emancipatory research
* Research with service users
* Researching sensitive topics
* Outcome measurement in research (including user-defined outcomes)
* Partnership skills in social work research
* Research utilisation in social services - the 'evidence based practice' debate
* The relationship of research to the development, implementation and evaluation of social work
* Reflection and reflexivity in the research process
* Unpacking the concept of 'user' in the research context - commissioners, agencies and service users
* The challenges of comparative social work research.

Programme availability:

SP50158 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
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