University of Sydney Handbooks - 2017 Archive

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Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

This course enables experienced practitioners in social work to:

  • develop excellence in practice research and practice development;
    review and develop theoretical approaches to the changing context of welfare
  • articulate new forms of practice appropriate for the new century
  • be qualified to take on leadership roles in the profession and in human services, and
  • be identified with continuing professional education at the University of Sydney.

This professional higher degree will encompass three activities: directly relevant coursework; practice development research at a high standard; and a research thesis of approximately 50,000 words which links the other two components in an extended piece of writing and analysis.

Such a pattern is intended to facilitate development in leadership in practice, teaching or practice research. This course is three years full time or part time equivalent with a first semester and mid-year intake.

Course convenor

Associate Professor Ruth Phillips
Phone 02 9351 6899
Room 741, Education Building, A35

Program structure

Year 1

Students need to complete:

  • Core coursework: 2 units of study (12 credit points) of core units, one unit in research, and a second unit in either social practice or social policy from the units of study table below.
  • Elective coursework: 2 units of study (12 credit points) of elective units to be undertaken from social work practice and/or social policy as recommended by your supervisor.

Year 2

Thesis and doctoral seminar.

Year 3

Continue with thesis and doctoral seminar.

Course rules


Doctor of Social Work

These resolutions must be read in conjunction with applicable University By-laws, Rules and policies including (but not limited to) the University of Sydney (Coursework) Rule 2014 (the 'Coursework Rule'), the Coursework Policy 2014, the Resolutions of the Faculty, the University of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule 2006 (as amended) and the Academic Board policies on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism. Up to date versions of all such documents are available from the Policy Register:

Course resolutions

Part 1: Preliminary

1 Course codes


Course and stream title


Doctor of Social Work


Part 2: Admission requirements

2 Eligibility for admission to candidature

To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must:
hold or have completed the requirements for:
(i)  the degree of Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Sydney, with first class honours or second class honours, first division; or
(ii)  the degree of Master of Social Work from the University of Sydney, completed with a weighted average mark of at least 75; or
(iii)  the degree of Master of Philosophy in Social Work from the University of Sydney; or
(iv)  the degree of Master of Social Work (Qualifying) from the University of Sydney; and
have been in full-time employment in Social Work for at least three years.
The Dean or Associate Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of sub-clause (1), provided that the applicant holds a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Faculty Division of Doctoral Studies, are equivalent to those prescribed in sub-clause (1).

3 Application for admission to candidature

An applicant for admission to candidature must submit to the Faculty:
satisfactory evidence of the applicant's eligibility for admission;
a proposed course of research and advanced study, approved by the Head of the Department in which the work is to be undertaken, together with proposals for the practicum and related coursework to be undertaken; and
a statement certifying the applicant's understanding that, subject to the HDR Rule, if the candidature is successful, his or her thesis will be lodged with the University Librarian and made available for immediate public use.
In addition, an applicant for admission to part time candidature must submit a statement that he or she will have sufficient time available to complete the requirements of the degree in accordance with these resolutions.

4 Credit transfer

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the granting of credit for previous studies, including the effect on completion times, except that for coursework:
no more than 12 credit points may be credited; and
the coursework should have been completed no more than four years prior to first enrolment in this degree.

Part 3: Candidature

5 Appointment of supervisor

The Faculty Division of Doctoral Studies will appoint a supervisor and associate supervisor for each candidate in accordance with the HDR Rule and Academic Board policies for postgraduate research higher degree supervision.

6 Control of candidature

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the control of candidature by the University.

7 Location of candidature and attendance

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the location of candidature and attendance by candidates at the University.

Part 4: Requirements

8 Degree requirements

To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
complete any specified probationary requirements;
complete 24 credit points of units of study, as set out in the table of units of study for the degree of Doctor of Social Work;
conduct research on an approved topic; and
write a thesis embodying the results of the research.

9 The thesis

A candidate shall produce a thesis that meets the requirements specified in the HDR Rule.
The thesis will be approximately 50,000 words in length.

Part 5: Enrolment and progression

10 Probation

A candidate is normally accepted for candidature on a probationary basis for a period not exceeding one year according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.
In the probationary period each candidate must:
complete the specific units of study from the table of units of study for the degree of Doctor of Social Work;
develop and present a refined research proposal to the satisfaction of the supervisor and the Faculty Research Proposal Committee; and
demonstrate adequate English language competency for the completion of the degree.

11 Time limits, earliest and latest submission dates

The HDR Rule specifies the allowable completion times and submission dates available for full- and part-time candidates in this course.

12 Mode of attendance

The attendance pattern for this course is full-time or part-time. Visa requirements commonly restrict international students to full-time study only.

13 Discontinuation of candidature

A candidate may discontinue enrolment in a unit of study or the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

14 Suspension of candidature

A candidate may suspend enrolment from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

15 Leave of absence

A candidate may take leave of absence from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.

16 Progress

A candidate is required to maintain satisfactory progress towards the timely completion of the degree. Progress will be reviewed annually according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.

Part 6: Examination

17 Examination of the thesis

Examination of the thesis will be conducted in general accordance with standards prescribed by Academic Board for the Doctor of Philosophy.

18 Award of the degree

The degree is awarded at the Pass level.

Part 7: Other

19 Transitional provisions

These course resolutions apply to students who commenced their candidature after 1 January, 2012 and students who commenced their candidature prior to 1 January, 2012 who elect to proceed under these resolutions.
Candidates who commenced prior to 1 January, 2012 may complete the requirements in accordance with the resolutions in force at the time of their commencement, provided that requirements are completed within the time limits specified in those resolutions. The Faculty may specify a later date for completion or specify alternative requirements for completion of candidatures that extend beyond this time.