WELF 7031 Theories and Knowledges for Social Work

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 102743

Coordinator Rimple Mehta Opens in new window

Description This subject explores different strands of social theory and their relevance for contemporary social work practice, both in the context of Western Sydney, and also globally. The heritage of the European Enlightenment will be critically examined as providing the basic paradigm for the construction of 'social theory' and also of social work knowledge and practice. The contribution of the humanities, as providing space for creativity and inspiration as well as insight, will also be considered. The limitations as well as the positives of Western epistemologies will be explored, and alternatives such as Southern Theory, Indigenous knowledges, critical theory, and 'new paradigm' thinking will be evaluated.

School Social Sciences

Discipline Social Work

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your HECS Band contribution amount via the Fees page.

Level Postgraduate Coursework Level 7 subject


Students must be enrolled in program 1792 Master of Social Work (Qulaifying)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the range of theories used by social workers, their strengths and their limitations.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding through a critique of the Enlightenment heritage of social work, and its epistemological assumptions.
  3. Examine and evaluate the relevance of alternative epistemologies for social work, especially in relation to indigenisation and decolonisation.
  4. Identify ways in which the humanities and the creative arts can be incorporated into social work knowledge.
  5. Demonstrate how these alternative epistemologies can be contextualised for practice in culturally diverse communities.

Subject Content

Theory for practice: theories that social workers use
The relationship between knowledge, theory and practice
Paradigms of social theory: positivist, interpretive, critical and postmodern
The Western Enlightenment tradition: strengths and limitations
Social work?fs Enlightenment heritage
Alternative epistemologies
Indigenisation and decolonisation of social work knowledge
The humanities and social work: history, philosophy, literature
Creativity, the arts and social work
Contextualising social work knowledge in culturally diverse communities


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Essay 1,500 Words 45 N Individual
Presentation 15 mins 25 N Group
Essay 750 words 30 N Individual

Teaching Periods

Autumn (2022)

Parramatta City - Macquarie St


Subject Contact Rimple Mehta Opens in new window

View timetable Opens in new window

Autumn (2023)

Parramatta City - Macquarie St


Subject Contact Rimple Mehta Opens in new window

View timetable Opens in new window