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Social Work BSc (Hons)

Module SW0610 - Evidence Based Social Work Practice

(20.00 Credits)


This module is one of four modules that together comprise the learning, teaching and assessment of the level 6, 100-day practice learning experience. This module aims to scaffold on prior learning from Levels 4 and 5 with particular reference to research and the knowledge bases for practice. This will enhance development of students’ ability to use research critically and effectively to sustain and develop their professional practice as life long learners. Students will be supported by lectures and seminars both before and during their final practice placement. Formative assessment will consist of critical evaluation of published research and associated seminar presentations. Feedback from staff and peers will be focussed on the development of critical thinking skills and demonstrating a sound understanding of the application to evidence based practice. Summative assessment will consist of a substantial written assignment that will give the student the opportunity to demonstrate their critical appraisal of research based knowledge to support their practice. This piece of work will also be used as one form of evidence for demonstrating the student’s competence in meeting the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Social Work, Key Role 6 (Units 18-21).


Banks, S., & Barnes, D. (2005) ‘Getting started with a piece of research/evaluation in social work’, in R. Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.) Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 237-250.
Brown, H. (2005) ‘Carrying out research in social work’, in R. Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.) Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.251-263.
Brown, K., & Rutter, L. (2006) Critical thinking for social work. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Dominelli, L. (2005) ‘Social work research: contested knowledge for practice’, in R. Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.), Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.223-236.
Gilligan, P. (2007) ‘Well motivated reformists or nascent radicals: how do applicants to the Degree in Social Work see social problems, their origins and solutions?’, British journal of social work, 37, pp.735-760.
Hancock, H. C., & Easen, P. R. (2004) ‘Evidence-based practice—an incomplete model of the relationship between theory and professional work’, Journal of evaluation in clinical practice, 10(2), pp.187-196.
Humphries, B. (2005) ‘From margin to centre: shifting the emphasis of social work research’, in R. Adams, L. Dominelli & M. Payne (eds.) Social work futures; crossing boundaries transforming practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 279-292.
Humphries, B., & Martin, M. (2000) ‘Disrupting ethics in social research’, in B. Humphries (ed.) Research in social care and social welfare; issues and debates for practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications, pp.68-85.
Newman, T., Caldwell, A., Tierney, S., Ellis, A. (2005) Evidence based social work: a guide for the perplexed. Lyme Regis: Russell House.
Parrott, L. (2006) Values and ethics in social work practice. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Patton, M. Q. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage Publications Inc.
Rolfe, G. (2002) ‘Faking a difference; evidence-based nursing and the illusion of diversity’, Nurse education today, 22, pp.3-12.
Shaw, I., & Gould, N. (2001) ‘The Social work context for qualitative research’, in I. Shaw, & N. Gould (eds.) Qualitative research in social work. London: Sage Publications Ltd., pp.14-31.
Sheldon, B. (2001) ‘The validity of evidence-based practice in social work: a reply to Stephen Webb’, British journal of social work, 31, pp.801-809.
Silverman, D. (2006) Interpreting qualitative data. 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications.
Webb, S. A. (2001) ‘Some considerations on the validity of evidence-based practice in social work’, British journal of social work, 31, pp.57-79. (SCIE Knowledge review 07: Improving the use of research in social care practice) (Systematic reviews: case studies of user involvement) Social Policy Research Unit


• Key characteristics of social work research
• Understanding research methods and how these underpin different forms of knowledge
• Critical appraisal of research, and conducting a critical and systematic literature reviews
• Critical appraisal of the knowledge bases for practice
• Evidence based practice – the application of knowledge to social work practice
• User perspectives on research
• Ethical issues in research and social work research
• Perspectives on practitioner research and life long learning


Within the context of an evidence based approach the aims of the module are to enable students to systematically analyse, evaluate and apply relevant aspects of current professional knowledge to the practice setting. This will be with a particular focus on the range of research based knowledge that might inform their professional practice. The students’ on-going placement experience will be integral to this learning and will provide students with the opportunity to contribute to the demonstration of competence relating to National Occupational Standards Units 18-21.


On completion of the module students will be able to demonstrate skills of evidence based practice related to the following National Occupational Standards:

1. 5.18 Draft Benchmark Standards for Social Work: Use research critically and effectively to sustain and develop an evidence based approach to their practice

2. Key Role 6, Unit 18: Research, analyse, evaluate and use current knowledge of best social work practice

3. Key Role 6, Unit 19: Work within agreed standards of social work practice and ensure own professional development

4. Key Role 6, Unit 20: Manage complex ethical issues, dilemmas and conflicts

5. Key Role 6, Unit 21: Contribute to the promotion of best social work practice

6. Demonstrate fitness to practice in accordance with Codes of Practice for Social Care Workers.








Preparation for understanding, evaluating and applying the evidence bases for the student’s own particular area of practice will be through taught input and seminars in Semester One. This will build on the research teaching and critical appraisal skills delivered at Levels 4 and 5. Some taught input and seminars will continue after students begin their 100 days practice learning, in order to support further development of their understanding of the links between evidence and practice. Students will be offered formative feedback in relation to seminars presentations, and from the practice assessor in relation to development of practice competence in the required areas. Students will be allocated a tutor to facilitate development of their assignment and will meet on a regular basis.


a Formative assessment and rationale

Students will select, and justify the selection of, a peer reviewed article from a data base, evaluate it using Skills Plus Criteria and relate it to practice (500 words). There will be structured presentation to the seminar group. The rationale is to develop appraisal skills to level 6 to support critical understanding of the relationship between evidence and practice.

b Feedback strategy

There will be feedback from staff and peers regarding presentation and submission. Feedback will also be ongoing from the allocated tutor and practice assessor. A feedback template will give the mark and provide written formative feedback on the summative assessment. There is a written record of the midway review meeting.

c Summative assessment

Component 1: Record of professional practice which includes:
• Record of 25 days attendance (as a component of a 100 day placement)
• Verification of the National Occupational Standards
••Individual learning plan/agreement for the practice experience
• Records of supervision sessions/professional practice meetings
(LO 6)

Component 2: Project/assignment exploring the evidence bases related to a particular issue or aspect of social work practice in the student’s placement setting, and the implications of these for practice. This will be marked by the project tutor (5000 words). The rationale for a 5000 word assessment is that although this is a slightly lengthy assessment for a single 20 credit module, this is one of a group of four modules related to the Level 6 placement, and the written work required across these is not excessive. A 5000 word assignment will give the student an opportunity to explore and appraise the evidence bases for their practice in some depth and breadth. (LOs 1-6)

Component 1 will be PASS/FAIL; component 2 will be graded. Both parts must be passed.




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