What's being taught at University?

What social work and human service theory and skills are students being exposed to at University that could be explored in placement?

  • As a supervisor have you ever thought, what has the student been taught in their course?
  • What should I be able to expect that they have some awareness of?

One way of ‘designing in’ ethics into supervision and building in an educational focus is to have an understanding of where your student is at in terms of their theoretical understanding and practice competence. This knowledge will allow you to negotiate learning opportunities and avoid misunderstanding and practice delivery issues.

You can find out from your students what they are learning at University. You can also have a look at their course structure and content and use this as a tool in having a discussion with the student about links between theory and practice.

Here are current links to the course information pages for our degrees. Beware the URL’s can change- if so ring the Field Education Unit and we will assist you.

SW03 Bachelor of Human Services Course information Linked to another web site
SW04 Bachelor of Social Work Course information Linked to another web site
IX45 Bachelor of Human Services/
Bachelor of Justice
Course information Linked to another web site
IX43 Bachelor of Creative Industries/
Bachelor of Human Services
Course information Linked to another web site
HL 20 Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/
Bachelor of Social Work
Course information Linked to another web site
SW80 Masters of Social Work Course information Linked to another web site

More detailed information on unit objectives and content is available by choosing the unit outline option from the drop down menu.

If you are interested in knowing what your student may have been exposed to in relation to ethics and practice challenges you will find a number of units in the social work and human service courses canvas practice expectations and ethical challenges. In all undergraduate human service and social work courses, students must complete a second year unit SWB219. For the Masters SWN006 - The Ethical, Legal and Organisational Context of Practice. The Synopsis of the units:

  • This unit locates social work practice within its ethical, legal and organisational context. It emphasises the imperative for students to know, understand and actualise core social work values particularly those incorporated in the profession’s national and international codes of conduct, professional standards and ethical practice requirements. The statutory and organisational dimensions of social work practice are described and explored with case scenarios providing opportunities to develop strategies for self- management within diverse organisational contexts.

Having access to this detail of information may help you in assisting your student to make the link between what they have learnt at University and the complex realities involved in everyday practice.


From my point of view, the basic skill a student needs to demonstrate is their ability to engage with a client.

By engagement I mean they have to treat the client with respect, they have to demonstrate a very non-judgmental attitude.

But in terms of some of their micro skills of communication I would expect them to be able to use a range of questions.

Know when to use which question.

Certainly not to just use questions that flow out of a proforma.

They need to be able to use recursive - questioning style – the question flowing out of the previous answer.

They need to be able to demonstrate the very basic micro skills of paraphrasing, clarifying, summarizing and probably reframing particularly where there is a conflicted situation.

They need to be able to demonstrate how to formulate some goals with a client and how to effectively terminate an interview if they have been interviewing with them.

So they are very basic skills that any practitioner would need to have in any context of practice.

I would not expect them to be demonstrating high level counseling skills but just those basic skills that form the basis of any assessment or engagement with a client at all.