Critical and Reflective Practice - SOCI7180

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Johanna Woodcock Ross checkmark-circle


This module introduces students to the nature of critical, reflective and ethical social work practice at an advanced level. They will consider the impact of the organisational, political, demographic and ideological context on contemporary social work practice. The module will focus specifically on critical perspectives to social work in a diverse society. The module will provide students with in-depth understanding of the significance of power, language, knowledge, social justice, and relationship based practice.

Key concepts from critical theory will be examined including the potential for social workers to act as change agents and challenge oppressive practice in institutional contexts. This will enable students to go beyond competency based approaches and consider creative and transformatory practice models. Dominant discourse(s) around gender, race, class, disability and sexuality will be problematized and challenged and diversity approaches will be critically engaged with through recursive links between theory and practice.

Students will consider the complex dilemmas and challenges involved in balancing competing needs, rights, risks and accountabilities. Assumptions around professionalism and managing risk, decision making and developing professional judgement will be critically examined, enabling students to evaluate links between structural, contextual and individual factors. Value-based social work, alignment with marginalized groups and respect for service users will underpin this activity.
Dealing with complex, unpredictable and emotionally demanding situations in social work practice can have an impact on student's well-being. This module will equip students to develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and become mindful and resilient practitioners through the effective use of supervision and other support systems.

The module will also explore with students the importance of developing skills in leadership, contributing to the development of others, and appropriate professional authority and assertiveness. Students will identify and reflect on strengths, learning needs and strategies for continuing personal and professional development in the remainder of the programme and during their Assessed Supported Year in Employment.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 27
Private study hours: 123
Total study hours: 150


BA (Hons) Social Work

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – assignment (3000 words) – 100%

13.2 Reassessment methods


Indicative reading

Alinsky, S.D (1989). Rules for Radicals. London: Vintage.
Birnbaum, L. (2008). 'The use of mindfulness training to create an 'accompanying' place for social work students'. Social Work Education. 27(8): 837-852.
Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. NY: Routledge.
Fook, J. (2012) Social Work: A Critical Approach to Practice, 2nd Edn, London: Sage
Gray, M. & Webb, S. (eds) (2013) The New Politics of Critical Social Work, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Healey, K. (2009). Social Work Practices: Contemporary Perspectives on Change. London: Sage.
McGarrigle, T., & Walsh, C. (2011). ‘Mindfulness, social care, and wellness in social work: Effects of contemplative training’. Social Work Education. 30(3): 212-233.
O’Sullivan, T. (2011) Decision Making in Social Work. 2nd Edn, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Okitikpi, T., & Aymer, C. (2009). Key Concepts in Anti-Discriminatory Practice. London: Sage.
Rajan-Rankin, S. (2014). Self-identity, embodiment and the development of emotional resilience. British Journal of Social Work. 44(8): 2426-2442. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bct083

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Critically analyse the differential impact of the changing economic, social, political, inter-professional and organisational context on social
work practice and the experience of those who use services.
8.2 Evaluate the contested nature of social work practice in a diverse society, the use of power and authority in social work, and how this has
been understood in a tradition of radical social work practice.
8.3 Critically analyse dilemmas and conflicts that can arise when balancing competing needs, risks, rights and responsibilities of individuals,
carers and other agencies.
8.4 Critically evaluate research-based evidence to inform social work professional judgement in complex and uncertain situations.
8.5 Identify common sources of 'error' in decision-making in professional practice including the rule of optimism, attribution error and the
uses/misuses of intuition.
8.6 Recognise and reflect upon the potential impact of personal feelings and emotions on thinking, decision-making, and professional
behaviour in social work and appreciate the debates about their proper role.
8.7 Understand the challenges of emotionally demanding work in complex and uncertain situations and reflect upon the actions and supports
needed to promote their own emotional resilience, including the use of professional supervision
8.8 Critically reflect on their own practice and professional development, and identify areas for future development

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Synthesise knowledge, understanding and skills gained through this and other modules and through practice experience.
9.2 Construct a logical and coherent argument in writing, including use of critical thinking to analyse information.
9.3 Demonstrate skills in reflection on practice situations.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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