The Individual, the Family and Society - SOCI9240

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 7 15 (7.5) Sweta Rajan Rankin checkmark-circle


Taking an ecological approach to social work, the module will highlight the need for a systematic analysis of influences on individuals, families, groups and communities at micro, meso and macro levels. This will include the role of social processes on individuals and families and theoretical approaches to human growth and development. The module will explore bio-psycho-social influences on behaviour, individual identity and the life course, and contrasting approaches, such as 'critical material', discursive and intra-psychic, to understanding the individual in society. Broader social influences on individuals and families will also be examined, such as diversity and difference throughout the life span, acknowledging cross-cultural differences in attachment, development and separation.

Applying the module content to social work practice, students will be encouraged to understand the significance of life stages and the need to adopt a life course perspective in social work with specific service user groups. The module will highlight the significance for social workers of the intersection between psychological models and understanding the concept of 'need'. At the macro level of understanding, the module will explore the interaction between disadvantage in society, marginalisation, isolation and social exclusion with psychological and social factors that bring service users to the attention of social workers.


Contact hours

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


Social Work MA (compulsory module)

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – essay (4,000 words) – 100%

Reassessment methods


Indicative reading

Burke P and Parker J (2006) Social Work and Disadvantage: Addressing the Roots of Stigma through Association. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Gill O and Jack G (2007) Child and Family in Context: Developing ecological practice in disadvantaged communities. Lyme Regis: Russell House
Hockey J & James A (2003) Social Identities across the Life Course. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Katz J, Peace S and Spurr S (2011) Adult Lives: A Life Course Perspective. Bristol: Policy Press
Parrish M (2010) Social Work Perspectives on Human Behaviour. Berkshire: OUP
Sigleman CK and Rider EA (2006) Life-span Human Development. Belmont: Wadsworth
Thomson Learning
Sudbery J (2009) Human Growth and Development: an introduction for social workers. Abingdon: Routledge
Sullivan J. J. (2007) Sociology: Concepts and Application in a Diverse World. Pearson

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 The application of relevant research, theory and knowledge from the cognate disciplines of sociology and psychology (human growth and
development) to social work;
8.2 The role of social processes and the impact of sources of experiential and life course disadvantage that leads to marginalisation, isolation
and social exclusion and how this impacts on the need for social work services;
8.3 The changing and dynamic nature of families and communities and the resultant implications for social work practice;
8.4 Psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and physical influences on people and human development throughout the life course and how
these link to the development and understanding of need;
8.5 The theoretical perspectives on bio-psycho-social influences on human development, behaviour and the life stages;
8.6 The intersection of psychological theories and social factors with issues of discrimination, disadvantage, inequality and injustice

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

9.1 Demonstrate skills commensurate with postgraduate study in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in the use of research
and empirical data;
9.2 Be able to gather library and web-based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical judgments about their merits and use
the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally and in writing;
9.3 Be able to synthesise and evaluate complex knowledge and theoretical material from different schools and disciplines of enquiry


  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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