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Introducing social work: a starter kit

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This free course, Introducing social work: a starter kit, provides a glimpse into some of the things that social workers do and looks at why and how social work is done. The course is designed for people who might be interested in and curious about social work practice. It will also be a useful initial resource for those who may be thinking about entering the social work profession at some point in the future.

The materials in this course reflect a small illustrative sample drawn from The Open University's much larger course, K832 Developing social work practice. K832 is the first of two courses leading to the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, a professional qualifying award.

In this free short course you will find four main sections:

  1. What is social work?
  2. What makes a good social worker?
  3. The impact of social divisions and diversity
  4. The influence of knowledge about human development

The course is very much introductory in nature and is designed for learners with a wide variety of previous experiences of study. However, on occasions, the study materials reflect closely the style and academic level of the original materials, which are postgraduate level.

At the end of the course, you will notice that there is a section called 'Where next?'. This is where you will find some information and online links to further study. It includes ideas about professional qualifying social work courses for those who may be considering taking their initial curiosity further, possibly into a social work career.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • appreciate in greater depth what professional social work is, and what it is not, and learn that on occasions you are able to 'think like a social worker'
  • identify some of the principal components of the communication skills applicable to social work and to understand that social work is based on a series of clear values and ethical principles to which professional social workers subscribe
  • understand why social workers hold as central, the direct involvement of service users in decision making regarding their lives
  • appreciate the impact of oppression and social exclusion in the lives of individuals and communities, and why it is important for social workers to take these factors into account in their work
  • understand some of the ways in which the patterns in human development offer important clues for understanding the nature of people's motivations, choices and behaviours. 

First Published: 01/11/2019

Updated: 15/04/2020

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