ETHC09002 2017 Professional Ethics in Social Work Practice

General Details

Full Title
Professional Ethics in Social Work Practice
Transcript Title
Professional Ethics
100 %
Subject Area
ETHC - Ethics
SOCS - Social Sciences
09 - NFQ Level 9
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Brenda Feeney, Dr. Leonard Taylor
Programme Membership
SG_WSOWO_M09 201800 Master of Arts in Social Work

Contemporary social work has recognised social justice and professional ethics as core contributions to professional competency that have roots in the early history of the profession. Many international and national codes of ethics for social workers, including the Irish Association of Social Workers, contain social justice principles in their ethical statements. Social justice theory is also judged as a strong feature that influences good practice in the Social Work profession. Social work values and ethics have informed practice in the areas of professional decision making, ethical dilemmas and ethical risk management.

Consequently, this module aims to provide a general overview of approaches to social justice sources, which include normative ethical theories and moral reasoning (libertarian, utilitarian, contractual, egalitarian, and communitarian). Emphasis is given to the contemporary capabilities approach to articulate a framework for social justice practice, and to examine societal access to resources and inclusion in opportunities. Similarly, an ethic of care in contemporary society is articulated to evaluate and existing anti‑oppressive practices in social work, and appraise core ethical principles and standards. Lastly, International standards drawn from human rights law are examined to evaluate how law can further social work practice as an anti‑oppressive practice and for the promotion of societal equality. Interdisciplinary readings and personal stories from social work cases are accessed to translate social justice, and core ethical concepts into tangible social work practice.

This module supports the achievement of CORU Standards of Proficiency as follows:


Domain 1: Professional Autonomy and Accountability

Domain 2: Interpersonal and Professional Relationships

Domain 3: Effective Communication

Domain 4; Personal and Professional Development

Domain 5; Provision of Quality Services

Domain 6; Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the profession's commitment to social justice, ethical standards, and human rights through completion of a detailed group presentation for workshop evaluation. (Domain, 1.1.a, 1.1.b, 1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f, 1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.5.a, 1.8.a, 1.8.b, 3.1d, 3.2.c, 4.1.a, 4.1.b, 4.1.c, 4.1.f, 5.6.a, 5.3.d, 6.1.d, 6.1.i, 6.2.b, 6.2.c).


Critically analyse social work case studies during ongoing assessment to thereby contextualise core ethical principles in social work professional practice.(Domain, 1.1.a, 1.1.b,  1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f,  1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.e, 1.3a, 1.3c, 1.3e,  1.6.e, 3.1.g, 5.1a, 5.1d,  5.3.d, 5.3.e, 5.5.a, 6.1.d, 6.3.e, 6.4.c).


Analysis and critique contemporary theories of justice to demonstrate how it informs and provides a principled response to inequality and exclusion through social work practice.(Domain, 1.1.a,  1.1.b, 1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f,1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.b, 1.2.e, 1.4.d, 1.8.a, 2.1.c, 3.1.a, 3.1.i, 4.1.b, 6.1.f, 6.3.e).


Critically appraise normative ethical theories, and human rights-based approaches as an anti-oppressive practice for the promotion of societal equality. (Domain, 1.1.a,  1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f, 1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.a 1.2.b, 1.2.d, 1.8.a, 2.1.c, 3.1.a, 3.2.c, 5.5.a, 5.6.a, 5.6.b, 6.1.f, 6.2.b, 6.2.c, 6.2.d).


Systematically review the theory of capabilities and an ethic of care in contemporary society to examine societal access to resources and inclusion in opportunities. (Domain, 1.1.a, 1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f, 1.1.g, 1.1.h, 3.1.a, 3.1b,  4.1.a, 4.1h,  5.1.b, 5.2.b, 5.5.a, 5.6.b, 6.1.f, 6.2.c, 6.2.d).

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Participants of this module will participate in weekly online content, accessible through Adobe Connect and/or Panopto. Enhancing these virtual delivery modes, participants will be expected to attend a two-day intensive residency twice per semester.

Self-assessment is a key element in the learning strategy to develop a process of reflective practice while participants incrementally acquire skills to evaluate social justice issues. Therefore, all assessment elements will, as part of their weighting, require self-evaluation to detail participants learning.

Module Assessment Strategies

Module participants will be expected to successfully complete the following:

Assessment 1. Production of screencast presentation ‑ broadcast to all module participants via Adobe Connect/Panopto ‑ [Maximum 10 minutes duration] on tutor(s) agreed policy case study/simulation topic that incorporates significant elements of Social Policy for Social Work (POL109003). This is a shared assessment.

Assessment 2. Produce a Powerpoint presentation that is shared during the on‑campus residential study week that analysis and critique a social justice that inform ethical principles as applied to social work practice, and is available for group workshop discussion.

Assessment 3. Write a brief article which evaluates the conceptual underpinnings of social work theory and practice by examining a contemporary theory of justice or ethical code of practice.

Included in all assessment elements 10% written self-evaluation that details learning.

This modules assessment allows for assessment of CORU Standards of Proficiency as follows:

Assessment 1 – (Domain, 1.1.c,1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.d, 1.5a, 1.8.a, 1.8b, 2.1.c, 3.1.a, 3.1.d, 3.1g, 3.1i,  3.2c, 5.3e, 5.5.a, 6.1.f, 

Assessment 2 - (Domain, 1.1.e,1.1.f, 1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.d, 1.3.a, 1.3.c, 1.3.e, 1.6.e, 2.1.c, 3.1.d, 3.1.g, 4.1b, 4.1.h, 5.3.d, 5.6.a, 6.1i, 6.2b, 6.3.e, 6.4.c)

Assessment 3 - (Domain, 1.1.a, 1.1.b, 1.1.c, 1.1.e, 1.1.f, 1.1.g, 1.1.h, 1.2.a, 1.2.b, 1.2.d, 1.2.e, 1.4.d, 1.8,a, 2.1.c, 3.1.b, 3.2c, 4.1a,  4.1.c, 4.1f,  5.1.a, 5.1b, 5.1.d, 5.2b, 5.3.d, 5.6b, 6.1d, 6.2.c, 6.2d, 

Repeat Assessments

Repeat requirements will be decided at Exam Boards but will be most likely consist of both oral and written submission. 

Module Dependencies

POLI09003 201700 Social Policy for Social Work

Indicative Syllabus

LO 1. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the profession's commitment to social justice, ethical standards, and human rights through completion of a detailed group presentation for workshop evaluation.

Define social justice including its conceptual history, and various theoretical evaluations of justice, the principles of justice including global, distributive and restorative justice.

Evaluate and critique core ethical principles and ethical standards as developed nationally and internationally for social workers, and apply to ethical dilemmas.

 LO 2. Critically analyse social work case studies during ongoing assessment to thereby contextualise core ethical principles in social work professional practice.

 Demonstrate an advanced understanding of ethics and risk management in the social work setting, and the work of Ethics Committees, including misconduct, professional impairment, malpractice and liability risk, and negligence.

 Evaluate and anticipate complex ethical issues involving potential and actual conflicts of interest, and boundary issues, communication with clients, and administrative challenges.

 LO 3. Analysis and critique contemporary theories of justice to demonstrate how it informs and provides a principled response to inequality and exclusion through social work practice.

 Evaluate formal and substantial equality, rights to access, participation and outcome and the value of empowerment in social work

 LO 4. Critically appraise normative ethical theories, and human rights‑based approaches as an anti‑oppressive practice for the promotion of societal equality.

 Critique and apply Human Rights based approach as a means to working towards an anti‑oppressive approach to social issues, and the promotion of societal equality.

 LO 5. Systematically review the theory of capabilities and an ethic of care in contemporary society to examine societal access to resources and inclusion in opportunities.

Critically appraise the nature, value, and purposes of codes of ethics, including an ethics of care, and the role of emotions and capabilities in articulating social justice ideals in challenging ethical cases.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Screencast Broadcast assessment Continuous Assessment Assessment 30 % Week 6 2,3
2 Workshop Presentation Project Individual Project 20 % Week 8 1,4
3 Article Continuous Assessment Essay 50 % Week 12 1,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Workshop Flat Classroom On-site Campus porgramme 9 Twice Per Semester 1.20
Independent Learning Not Specified Independent Learning 4.5 Weekly 4.50
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 1.20 Hours

Online Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Online Lecture Online Lecture 1.5 Weekly 1.50
Total Online Learning Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 1.50 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2018-10-06 Social Work Values and Ethics
ISBN 0231188293 ISBN-13 9780231188296

Social Work Values and Ethics is the leading introduction to ethical decision making and professional conduct. The fifth edition incorporates significant updates to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and new practice and model regulatory standards used by social service and licensing agencies around the world.

Required Reading
2012-05-15 Ethics and Values in Social Work Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN 0230300170 ISBN-13 9780230300170

Ethics and Values in Social Work offers a clear and systematic account of professional ethics in relation to social work practice, framed within a global context. Having sold over 38,000 copies across its lifetime, this is a thoroughly revised edition of a modern social work classic from a leading international author. Combining a sound grasp of theoretical issues with a sharp focus on the latest policy and practice, this edition features: Detailed discussion of the participation of service users, including their role as activists and the importance of the service user movement; Extended analysis of professional regulation and codes of practice, and their role in defining the nature of social work; A vast array of practice examples, which bring current social issues to life; Comparison of the latest codes of ethics from across the globe; A wealth of supportive features, such as points for reflection, extended case studies and further resources. Ethics and Values in Social Work successfully synthesizes the complex ideas and concepts that characterize social work's value base. Written with Banks' trademark accessibility and theoretical rigour, this book will continue to be an invaluable resource for all students, educators and practitioners of social work.

Recommended Reading
2014-04-11 Ethics for Social Care in Ireland Gill Education
ISBN 0717159779 ISBN-13 9780717159772

The second edition of this popular book introduces the subject of ethics for social care and social work by exploring ethical values and principles, and how they inform and guide best practice for care in Irish society today. New to this edition: Detailed exploration of the understanding and application of caring as a value Outline of the ethics underlying various perspectives on the issues of abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide Evaluation of the practices behind the Irish banking crisis, which led to cutbacks in social services and austerity Additional case studies and questions for class discussion, which challenge the student to apply ethical values and principles Guidelines on how to write essays on the topic of ethics in social care. Explains the theoretical basis for the main values and principles that underpin and inform best practice in social care casework, as well as in residential and other care settings. Relates values and principles to specific issues, practices and standards of social care in Ireland. Explains values-led decision-making and behaviour in the context of improving care services. Presents particular ethical considerations that influence social policy formation. Encourages reflection on and critical analysis of ethics in social care, with a view to promoting its development and evolution as a practice. Written for: Applied social care, social work, social science and social studies courses at Levels 7 and 8 Also relevant for philosophy courses and courses covering ethics and social issues

Recommended Reading
2012 Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services Columbia University Press
ISBN 9780231157018 ISBN-13 0231157010

Rev. ed. of: Tangled relationships. c2001.

Recommended Reading
2017-05-13 Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work Learning Matters Limited
ISBN 1526401053 ISBN-13 9781526401052

This book, written for practicing social workers undertaking their ASYE and compulsory CPD, has been designed to help professionals make sound judgments in increasingly complex contexts and under pressure.

Recommended Reading
2006-04-18 Moral Philosophy: Theories and Issues Wadsworth Publishing
ISBN 0495007153 ISBN-13 9780495007159

New, ship fast, delivered in 5 days in UK. No PO Box.

Recommended Reading
2009-03-15 The Social Work Ethics Casebook: Cases and Commentary NASW Press
ISBN 0871013835 ISBN-13 9780871013835
Recommended Reading
2017-05-02 Values and Ethics in Social Work Sage Publications Ltd
ISBN 147397481X ISBN-13 9781473974814
Recommended Reading
2019-06-10 Applying Critical Thinking and Analysis in Social Work SAGE Publications Limited
ISBN 1526436582 ISBN-13 9781526436580

This highly practical guidebook will help you develop the critical and analytical skills essential to your successful social work education and evidence-informed, reflective practice. Key features include: - Theoretical break down and simplification of key theories How to avoid common pitfalls - Activities to help you cement your learning - Case studies applicable in practice. This will support you right from the very beginning of your programme through to the end of your final placement and into practice.

Recommended Reading
2019-01-28 Social Justice Theory and Practice for Social Work Springer
ISBN 9811336202 ISBN-13 9789811336201

This book offers a much-needed critical overview of the concept of social justice and its application in professional social work practice. Social justice has a rich conceptual genealogy in critical theory and political philosophy. For students, teachers and social workers concerned with empowerment, social change and human rights, this book provides a guide to the key ideas and thinkers, crucial historical developments and contemporary debates about social justice. It synthesises interdisciplinary knowledge and offers a new framework for practice, including a clear and practical exposition of four domains of skills and knowledge important for social justice informed social work. The book also contributes to social work pedagogy by offering a comprehensive set of learning outcomes that can be used to design curriculum, teaching and learning, and further research into social justice praxis. This book provides a range of philosophical and critical perspectives to support and inform social work professional knowledge and skills. In its tight knitting together of theory and practice this book links philosophical and moral principles with an understanding of how to engage with social justice in a way that is relevant to social work.

Recommended Reading
2020-11-29 Anti-Discriminatory Practice Red Globe Press
ISBN 1352010941 ISBN-13 9781352010947

Now going into its seventh edition, Neil Thompson's Anti-Discriminatory Practice has been providing a trusted introduction to the challenges of promoting social justice and equality for a quarter of a century. Addressing the common concepts and issues across the various forms of discrimination, this book explores the reasons why the development of anti-discriminatory practice is so vital, and examines the steps that need to be taken towards constructing a social work practice based on principles of anti-discrimination and the promotion of equality. Promoting social justice, diversity and equality in social work practice is as vital today as it was when Anti-Discriminatory Practice was first published, and there is still much to learn. Written with Thompson's inimitable clarity, this new, fully updated edition of a classic text is key reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Social Work. Practitioners will also benefit hugely from Neil Thompsons experience and expertise.

Recommended Reading
2013-04-25 After Virtue A&C Black
ISBN 9781780936253 ISBN-13 1780936257

In this landmark work, MacIntyre returns to the 'Virtue'-based ethics of Aristotle in answer to the crisis of moral language caused by the Enlightenment.

Recommended Reading
2004 The Nicomachean Ethics Penguin
ISBN 0140449493 ISBN-13 9780140449495

Previously published as Ethics, Aristotle's The Nicomachean Ethics addresses the question of how to live well, and originates the concept of cultivating a virtuous character as the basis of his ethical system. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Greek by J.A.K. Thomson with revisions and notes by Hugh Tredennick, and an introduction and bibliography by Jonathan Barnes. 'One swallow does not make a summer; neither does one day. Similarly neither can one day, or a brief space of time, make a man blessed and happy' In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle sets out to examine the nature of happiness. He argues that happiness consists in 'activity of the soul in accordance with virtue', for example with moral virtues, such as courage, generosity and justice, and intellectual virtues, such as knowledge, wisdom and insight. The Ethics also discusses the nature of practical reasoning, the value and the objects of pleasure, the different forms of friendship, and the relationship between individual virtue, society and the State. Aristotle's work has had a profound and lasting influence on all subsequent Western thought about ethical matters. Aristotle (384-22 BC) studied at the Academy of Plato for 20 years and then established his own school and research institute, 'The Lyceum'. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy and are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. If you enjoyed The Nicomachean Ethics, you might like Plato's The Symposium, also available in Penguin Classics.

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne (Eds) (2009). Social Work: Themes, Issues and Critical Debates 3rd Edition. London: MacMillan.

Barsky, A. E. (2010). Ethics and values in social work: An integrated approach for a comprehensive curriculum . Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Barcalow, E. (2007).Moral philosophy: Theories and issues. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Capeheart, L. and Milovanovic, D.  (2007). Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements. Dalrymple, J. & Burke, B. (2006) Anti‑Oppressive Practice ‑ social care and the law 2nd Edition. Bucks: Open University Press.

Hamilton, C. (2012). 'Irish Social Work and Social Care Law' 1st ed., Gill and Macmillan.

Cohen, A I., and  Wellman, C.H. eds. (2014) Contemporary debates in applied ethics. 2d ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Lieberman, A. A. and Lester, C.B. (2004). Social Work Practice with a Difference: Stories, Essays, Cases, and Commentaries, McGraw‑Hill.

Reamer, F. G. (2009). The social work ethics casebook: Cases and commentary. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers Press.

Rothman, J. C.(2014). From the front lines: Student cases in social work ethics. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

URL Resources

IFSW (2010) Standards in Social Work Practice Meeting Human Rights

International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) (2012) Statement of Ethical Principles.

Other Resources

Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics

Banks, S. (2012) Ethics and values in social work. 4th ed. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Corey, G., Schneider Corey, M., Corey, C.  and Callanan, P. (2015) Issues and ethics in the helping professions. 9th ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.

Chadwick, R., ed. (2012) Encyclopedia of applied ethics. 2d ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Dolgoff, R., Harrington, D. and Loewenberg, F. (2012) Ethical decisions for social work practice. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Morgaine, K. and M. Capous‑Desyllas (2015) Anti‑oppressive social work practice: Putting theory into action. Intersections of social work and social justice. K. Morgaine and M. Capous‑Desyllas. Thousand Oaks, CA, SAGE: 1 ‑ 47.

Strom‑Gottfried, K. (2014) Straight talk about professional ethics. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.