module specification

SW7P29 - Social Work Dissertation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Social Work Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 600
4 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
596 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Dissertation 100% 50 Dissertation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

The dissertation is designed to give students an opportunity to undertake a substantive independent piece of research on a specific area relevant to social work practice. It is an integral part of the Masters award. The dissertation builds upon the earlier modules of the programme. Students are required to demonstrate a high level of autonomy and self-direction.

Module aims

This module provides the opportunity for students to:

  • Advance their knowledge and understanding by the undertaking of a sustained and detailed dissertation that critically examines and evaluates an aspect of social work theory, policy and/or practice of particular interest to the student and approved by their supervisor.
  • Select and apply the principles of social research to inform their chosen methodology
  • Apply appropriate skills of analysis and critique existing research in the exploration of current issues relating to social work theory, policy and practice.
  • Reflect critically on the process of developing and executing a sustained piece of work.


This is a 60 credit module for the masters programme the content of which focuses on the planning and execution of an investigation. It enables students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained throughout the social work programme, particularly, but not exclusively, the core modules, and to apply this to a specific question or topic. Students are expected to be selfUmotivated and able to work independently. However, attending designated supervision sessions with a named supervisor will also be important.

Learning and teaching

The first part of the dissertation will be the submission of a formal proposal highlighting the area of
study, including the production of a research plan and indicative literature. This requires the student to construct a programme indicating: the rationale for the investigation, its relationship to previous and current research in the field as well as the concepts, theories and/or bodies of empirical evidence to be examined. The proposal must include reference to policy documents and other literature sources. The practical applications of the investigation and the relevant ethical issues must be addressed. A clear timetable must be included as well a reflective account of progress.

Following approval of the proposal students continue to the second stage of the dissertation. Students  will be allocated a supervisor. The work at this stage will be self-directed.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

(LO1) Formulate, plan, organise and write a dissertation that synthesises learning from the Social Work

LO2) Appraise and synthesise the literature and evidence base related a subject relevant to social work

(LO3) Evaluate the ways in which theories are applied for research and critically informed practice.

Assessment strategy

The assessment will include both formative and summative methods. It will consist of project proposal which is formative (1000 words) and a dissertation which is summative (10 – 12000 words).


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Barnes, R. (1995) Successful study for degrees, London: Routledge
Bell, J. (1993): Doing Your Research Project Open University Press
Carey. M, (2013) The Social Work Dissertation: Using SmallPScale Qualitative Methodology (2nd Ed) Basingstoke: Open University Press
Crème, P & Lea, M. (1997) Writing at University, Basingstoke: Open University Press
Cresswell, J.W. (1994) Research Design: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, London: Sage
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Jones, S. (2009) Critical Learning for Social Work Students, Exeter: Learning Matters
Mathews, I & Crawford, K. (2011) Evidenced-based practice in Social Work, Exeter: Learning Matters
Pritchard, D. (2009) What is this thing called knowledge? Abingdon: Routledge
Rossman, G. & Rallis, S.F. (1998) Learning in the Field, an Introduction to Qualitative Research, London: Sage
Silverman, D. (Ed.) (1997) Qualitative Research: Theory, Methods and Practice, London: Sage