University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Social Work (Degree)

About the degree

Social Work is a complex, diverse and changing profession. The core units of this degree focus on sociology and social policy which feed into the fundamentals of Social Work, human rights and social justice, according to the International Federation of Social Work definition of the profession. The unique structure of the Bachelor of Social Work involves study in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences plus professional studies in social work and social policy with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work. This allows students to combine qualifying as a professional social worker with two years' tertiary studies in other areas of interest such as languages or history.

The four-year degree will equip students with skills in communication, empathy, self-awareness in practice, providing resources, assessment and exercising professional judgment. This will assist in the different types of intervention used in Social Work such as community work; individual and family counselling; group work; policy development; advocacy; and research.

Social Workers can work in varied contexts such as health services, aged care, women’s services, disability services, child and family services, international development, and migration and refugee services.

Requirements for completion

Candidates for the Bachelor of Social Work are required to complete 192 credit points as described in the unit of study table

First year

The first year focuses on introducing students to sociology, social justice and human services in Australia with four core units of study. Students are also given flexibility to select elective units of study for the opportunity to study within areas of interest.

Second year

In second year, students further their knowledge with social work and policy study core units of study. Students are exposed to the program’s critical, anti-oppressive approach to theory, Aboriginal issues and perspectives, “mental health”, life stages and social research. Their study in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences also continues this year with access to elective units.

Third year

In the third year of Social Work students move into the social work and policy area as a distinctive, hybrid discipline, drawing on critical interdisciplinary and discipline-specific knowledge and theory. Students will extend their knowledge of and ability to critically assess and evaluate: social policies shaping the social worlds; and the social processes and practices that empower and oppress the populations with whom we work. Students will have the opportunity for their first field experience in which the students will be an active participant grounded with theory.

Fourth Year

In fourth year, students continue to deepen their critical analysis, skills and knowledge base. They complete their second field placement and participate in a range of courses that integrate and extend their capacity to apply critical, anti-oppressive frames to pressing social problems and social needs.


In third year, Honours students participate in research seminars to provide them with a higher level of research skills and analysis. Students work closely with a faculty member, who acts as their supervisor in fourth year on a research project involving original data and deepening student’s capacity to undertake rigorous, theory-engaged, social justice-linked research. Students produce a research report that demonstrates their capacity to participate in a social research project and reflect critically on it.

Contact and further information

Bachelor of Social Work, Program Director, Dr Amanda Howard

Sydney School of Education and Social Work