Critical and Reflective Practice - SOCI9190

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Year 7 15 (7.5) Linda Daley checkmark-circle


The curriculum will address the nature, dimensions and aims of critical, reflective and ethical practice in social work. It will incorporate the organisational, political, demographic and ideological context of contemporary social work practice and the impact of critical perspectives on the nature and delivery of social work in a diverse society. Service user perspectives and roles, models of partnership and participation, and the significance of power, language, knowledge, social justice, and relationship based practice will be explored. The role of effective inter-professional working and team working, and perspectives on risk and risk management will also be explored as will professional judgement and decision making in social work, including the role of emotion and sources of 'error' in decision-making and evaluating multiple hypotheses. The management of dilemmas and challenges involved in balancing competing needs, rights, risks and accountabilities will be addressed alongside dealing with working with anxiety and uncertainty in complex, unpredictable and emotionally demanding situations. The possibilities for creative and transformative practice in social work will be explored and the importance of leadership, professional authority, and continuing personal and professional development will also be discussed.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Social Work MA (compulsory stage 2 module)

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework assignment - placement case study (4000 words) – 100%

Reassessment methods


Indicative reading

Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (2009) Critical Practice in Social Work, 3rd Edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Barnes M and Cotterell P (Eds) (2011) Critical Perspectives on User Participation. Bristol: Policy Press
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
Jones, K., Cooper, B. and Ferguson, H. (2008) Best Practice in Social Work: Critical Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Littlechild, B. & Smith, R. (eds) (2013) A Handbook for Inter-professional Practice in the Human Services: Learning to work together. Harlow: Pearson
Lymbery, M. & Butler, S. (2004) Social Work Ideals and Practice Realities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
O'Sullivan, T. (2011) Decision Making in Social Work. 2nd Edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Ruch, G., Turney, D. & Wards, A. (eds) (2010) Relationship-Based Social Work: Getting to the Heart of Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley
Rutter, L. & Brown, K. (2012) Critical Thinking and Professional Judgement for Social Work 3rd edition Exeter: Learning Matters
Thompson, N. And Thompson, S. (2008) The Critically Reflective Practitioner. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

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, 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 Evaluate and apply models of partnership and participation, recognising their complex nature;
8.4 Critically analyse dilemmas and conflicts that can arise when balancing competing needs, risks, rights and responsibilities of individuals,
carers and other agencies;
8.5 Critically evaluate research-based evidence to inform social work professional judgement in complex and uncertain situations;.
8.6 Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of common sources of 'error' in decision-making in professional practice including
the rule of optimism, attribution error and the uses/misuses of intuition;
8.7 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;
8.8 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;
8.9 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 Ability to synthesise and integrate complex knowledge, theoretical perspectives and evidence from different schools and disciplines of
enquiry in order to construct an organised and coherent argument in writing;
9.2 Skills commensurate with postgraduate study in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in the use of research and
empirical data;
9.3 Capacity to gather and evaluate library and web-based resources (e-journals and other on-line resources) appropriate to postgraduate
study, make critical judgments about their merits, and use materials to construct a developed argument;
9.4 Ability to interact with others in a group context and articulate and defend opinions based on critical reasoning, logic and evidence


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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