module specification

SW5050 - Law for Social Work Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Law for Social Work Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Open Book Examination 33% 40 Community Care Law question
Open Book Examination 33% 40 Mental Health question
Open Book Examination 34% 40 Child and Family question
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to key social work related legislation (and how law is made) and case-law with particular emphasis upon law related to children and families, and vulnerable adults. Students will gain an understanding of how laws and legal processes impact upon social work practice and how they can support anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive approaches. Students will develop a confident understanding of the broader  legal contextual and procedural  boundaries for their practice and how wider legislationimpacts on the lives of individuals, families and communities (e.g. Human Rights Act).

Module aims

• To  locate social work practice within a legal context – What is law; Functions of law (law and social issues); How is law made.
• To identify and understand the relationship of key legislation and case-law relevant to social work practice
• To develop an understanding of law and legal processes can suport anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice
• To examine how the law is used to protect adults, children and families
• To locate and develop an understanding of international (e.g. refugee legislation), European and UK legislation and its impact on individuals, families and communities
• To develop an understanding of where legislations derives from and the ethical and political underpinning behind it


- Introduction to law: Where does it come from; Common Law; English legal system; National & International law
- The nature of legal authority
- Legal processes, frameworks & delivery standards
- Researching legislation – accessing relevant legislation and legal documents
- The relationship between law and practice
- Legal considerations with service users and carers
- The importance and use of representation
- Accountability and intervention
- Data protection and confidentiality
- Whistle-blowing legislation
- The legal basis for anti-discriminatory practice
- Critical analysis & application of case law
- Legal contexts of social work practice/ key legislation: Children & Family; Youth offending; Community Care; Mental Health; Intimate Partner Violence; Forced marriage; Trafficking; Sexual/domestic exploitation; Housing; Immigration; FGM; ICT and communication technologies; Equality & Human Rights; Disability

Learning and teaching

• Lectures &Seminar/small group discussion
• Case-study analysis
• E-learning and blended learning & video materials

Learning outcomes

1 Understand the legal frameworks within which social workers practise.

2 Demonstrate knowledge of the legal rights of service users and how they might be upheld in practice.

3 Assess critically the relevant legislation and legal obligations available to social workers, and  options for intervention on behalf of service users in a range of practice settings.

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to help students develop a solid grounding of the law in relation to social work practice and provides formative assessments to enable students to build their exam skills and techniques to answer questions in a succinct and accurate manner. These are important skills expected for writing legal and other reports in practice. Students will be assessed in an open book exam consisting of three questions covering different parts for the law and its application that all social workers must be able to apply to their decision making in practice. Students will be expected to pass each (LO1, LO2, LO3). Essay questions will require students to draw upon case-law and identify the dilemmas and contradictions in terms of interpreting and applying legislation. Formative assessment include analysis of case studies to test and rehearse arguments and students will have the opportunity to  draft answers to each section of the exam based on past papers including a mock exam.


Adcock, M. & White, R. (1998) Significant Harm, (2nd edition) Significant Publications

Brammer, A. (2010) Social Work Law (3rd Edition) London, Longman Pearson

Brayne, H. & Carr, H. (2008) Law for Social Workers (12th edition) Oxford : Oxford University Press

Brown, R. (2013) The approved mental health professional's guide to mental health law (3rd ed.) Exeter: Learning Matters

Edwards, A. (2011) Violence against women under international human rights law, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

John, R. (2011) Using the Law in Social Work (5th Edition) Exeter Learning Matters.

Laird, S. (2010)Practical Social work Law, Longman Press

Mandelstam, M (2013) Safeguarding adults and the law (2nd ed.), London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Mandelstam, M (2005) Community care practice and the law (4th ed.), London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Seymour, C & Seymour, R.B (2013) Practical Child Law for Social Workers A guide to English Law and Policy London: Sage

White, R., Broadbent, G., & Brown, K. (2009) Law and the Social Work Practitioner (2nd Edition) Learning Matters, Exeter.

White, R., (2008) Children Act in Practice, (4th ed.), London:  Lexis

E- sources include legal databases (particularly Lexis)

Lexis Library:

SCIE (2009) E:Learning Law & Social Work