SW0516 - Social Work Law and Ethics

What will I learn on this module?

The purpose of this module is to enable you to understand and explore the detailed application of the law in relation to social work practice in statutory, voluntary and community contexts, and in which it applies to children, young people and adults when your role is concerned with safeguarding and promoting the well- being of individuals, families and carers. You will examine the interface between the law, social work values and social work ethics, in order to consider how legal and policy frameworks are used to promote and sometimes restrict the rights of service users. You will also have an opportunity to consider how the law may be used to promote anti–oppressive and inclusive practice. You will reflect upon the complexity of contemporary universal and national laws, and the social and political contexts within service delivery settings. You will also develop your learning in relation to values, diversity, law and social justice within the Professional Capabilities Framework.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combined lecture and enquiry based approach using seminars, interactive learning and eLearning resources, and stakeholder involvement with teaching and learning both before and after your 70 day assessed practice placement. You will be introduced to key global and domestic legal frameworks in key note lectures. You will then have the opportunity in seminars to explore key concepts and practice issues associated with the ethical application of law in social work assessment professional judgement and decision making contexts.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Module lecturers and seminar leaders will support your development through seminar groups. You will have access to lecturers at specifically designated times via direct teaching sessions and online forums. Your Personal Tutor will also provide academic and pastoral support; the former in designated tutorials and as a member of the placement team training team. Formative assessment tasks include ‘feedforward’ in preparation for the summative assignment, and ‘feedback’ to identify aspects of your strengths and also aspects which require development. Contact details for all tutors for this module are available in the module handbook and via the eLP.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
You will demonstrate a critical understanding of the social and political context of social work law and statutory guidance frameworks.
You will demonstrate a critical understanding of the dynamic and evolving nature of law and identify and recognize its complexity within the context of service delivery.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
You will analyse the tensions between protection and control when balancing rights and responsibilities in social work practice within a legal framework.
You will identify the rights and perspectives of service users and carers and articulate the implications of these for good social work practice.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
You will understand the interface between social work law, values and ethics and apply this to practice situations, promoting anti –oppressive practice.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment.
You will undertake a court skills session which will enable you to develop your knowledge and skills in presenting evidence in formal decision making forums.

Summative assessment
You will undertake a three hour unseen examination in semester 2. You will demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the law in practice in relation to children and family law case study and an adult law case study. You will also be required to demonstrate critical understanding of social work values and ethical practice in social work assessment and intervention roles. The examination accounts for 100% of the summative mark.


SW0417, SW0418, SW0419, SW0420, SW0421, SW0422


SW0514, SW0515, SW0517, SW0518

Module abstract

This module aims to support you in progressing from identifying and understanding your own values and the perspectives of service users to applying specific legal and ethical frameworks in practice, and understanding the tensions inherent in this process.
This module will enable you to understand and interpret the ways in which the law underpins social work practice. You will develop a critical awareness of the legal system and its changing nature and be able to identify and apply legal frameworks in respect of all people who use services. You will develop your knowledge and understanding of specific areas of legislation and guidance that inform, guide or control your
practice. You will demonstrate awareness of the complexities inherent in the application of law to social work practice and interface between the law and social work ethics and values, examining how the law may be used to promote anti-oppressive practice.

Course info

UCAS Code L502

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time

Department Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience

Find out about our distinctive approach at 

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy