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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Critical Practices in International Social Work (PGSP11456)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course seeks to develop a conceptual and theoretical understanding of global social issues, which concern human development, with a critical focus on the relevance of social work theory and practice for multi-disciplinary efforts to address poverty and inequality and promoting human rights, social justice and development. Aimed at students from multiple disciplines, the course will develop students' knowledge, skills and values for a social work informed practice, which will enable them to work in a variety of settings and national and international organisations. The course will critically examine the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development and other key international policies that underpin social work and social development practice globally. It will critically engage with key theories for assessment and intervention in a global context including, for example, theories of human development, 'trauma' and 'recovery', etc. It will critically examine the origins, aims, values and relevance of international social work as articulated by the International Federation for Social Work, using case study material to develop understanding or how to apply ethical principles in practice.
Course description The social problems and conditions arising out of globalisation create significant areas of international responsibility and demands for expanded knowledge and understanding for the social work profession. Social work is a global, human-rights based profession. Professional social workers are on the front line addressing some of today's most pressing international issues. Across the world, social work has been concerned with the impact of poverty and inequality on human development, and with promoting human rights and social justice for all human beings.

International social work aims to promote social work education and practice globally and locally, with the purpose of building an integrated international profession that reflects social work's capacity to respond effectively in education and practice to the global challenges that are impinging on the well-being of large sections of the world's population. In other words, international social work aims to advance the causes of the vulnerable and marginalised with the aim of promoting social justice, equality, and human rights in a global context.

Outline content or syllabus:

Week 1: International Social Work - An overview of the context and key themes and knowledge, skills and values for practice

Week 2: How do social workers understand 'need'? Theories of human development and resilience - an international and comparative perspective.

Week 3: How do social workers understand need? Theories of poverty and globalisation and their impact on individuals, families and communities

Week 4: How do social workers understand need? Theories of recovery, well-being and social capital

Week 5: How do social workers understand need? Theories of trauma and human rights

Week 6: How do social workers engage with people? Social work values in action - contribution of social work in the context of globalisation and its challenges

Week 7: How do social workers intervene? Approaches to working with individuals

Week 8: How do social workers intervene? Approaches to working with families

Week 9: How do social workers intervene? Approaches to working with groups

Week 10: How do social workers intervene? Approaches to working with communities

NB: Weeks 2 through 10 will draw on case studies to explore and critically examine the role of international social work in action, making the course practical and action-oriented; some of these will include HIV and AIDS, refugees and asylum seekers, trauma, community mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, international resilience project, migration, health and human rights etc.

The course is hands-on, taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops. The weekly sessions will typically consist of a one hour lecture (focussing on key themes of the week's topic and the core reading provided) followed by a one hour seminar/workshop and where appropriate student presentations. One of the unique aspects of this course is that it draws on practice-based insights of leading NGOs and other organisations involved in international social work and short film screenings to explore the role of international social work in action.

Each session will cover conceptual and theoretical material related to the topic and substantive use will be made of case studies from a variety of settings and countries and other research/evaluation and policy reports relating the week's topic. It will also provide opportunities for analysing systematic practical and strategic responses to explore the complexities, challenges and dilemmas faced by professionals in the international social work context. In order to achieve this, we will invite input from speakers who have hands-on experience in international social work. This, for example would include British Association of Social Workers, International Federation of Social Workers, Scottish Children in Action, Save the Children etc. It is essential that students read in preparation for all seminars as they will be expected to participate and contribute to wider class discussions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a conceptual and theoretical understanding underpinning international social work.
  2. Develop a critical appreciation of key themes and issues confronting social work practitioners globally.
  3. Develop a critical understanding of social work values and how these might be applied in diverse international settings.
  4. Develop knowledge, skills and values to underpin assessment and intervention in a range of settings.
  5. Develop a critical understanding of the global agenda for social work and social development and other key policies underpinning social work and social development globally.
Reading List
Beristain, C M. (2008). Humanitarian Aid Work: A Critical Approach. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Briskman, L., and Cemlyn, S. (2005). Reclaiming Humanity for asylum seekers. International Social Work, 48(6): 714-24.

Cox, D., and Pawar, M. (2006). International social work: Issues, strategies and programmes. Thousand Oaks, CA; Sage.

Dominelli, L. (2010) Social Work in a Globalizing World, Polity Press, UK.

Gray, M. and Webb, S. (2008) 'The myth of global social work: double standards and the local-global divide', Journal of Progressive Human Services, 19, 61-66.

Gray, G. and Webb, S. (2010) International Social Work, Thousand Oaks, CA; Sage.

Haug, E. (2005). Critical reflections on the emerging discourse of international social work. International Social Work 48(2), 126-135.

Healy, L. (2008) (2nd Ed) International Social Work, Oxford University Press, USA.

Lyons, K. (2006) Globalisation and Social Work: international and local implications British Journal of Social Work, 36(3)365-380.

Lyons, K. Manion, K and Carlsen, M. (2006) International perspectives on social work: global conditions and local practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Nelson, P. (2007). Human Rights, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Future of Development Cooperation. World Development Vol. 35, No. 12, pp. 2041-2055.

Orr, D., & Jain, S. (2015). Making Space for Embedded Knowledge in Global Mental Health: A role for social work?. European Journal of Social Work, 18(4), 569-582.

Palattiyil, G. Sidhva, D. and Chakrabarti, M (Eds) (2015). Social Work in a Global Context: Issues and Challenges, London, Routledge.

Webb, S. (2003) 'Local orders and global chaos in social work', European Journal of Social Work, 6, 191-204.

World Health Organization. (2005). Health and the Millennium Development Goals. Geneva, WHO.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills To understand and critically evaluate a broad range of concepts and theories underpinning international social work;

To display the ability to use theories and conceptual frameworks for the analysis of a range of practice based case study materials drawn from social work internationally;

To analyse and critique the concepts and theories around international social work for finding creative solutions to specific problems;

To develop the ability to undertake own research/enquiry into the broader areas of international social work;

To develop informed and independent thought and critical judgement;

To develop problem solving skills in both academic and practice settings;

To locate relevant information through library and other relevant data bases/ IT resources;

To present and communicate information and ideas orally and in writing;

To work both independently and co-operatively within small teams.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr George Palattiyil
Tel: (0131 6)50 3907
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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