An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

An introduction to social work

1 Key ideas in social work

This section will introduce you to what constitutes good social work practice. You will consider four basic elements of social work, and the values that underpin professional practice. You may be surprised at how much knowledge you already have, and how this pre-existing knowledge can benefit social work practice.

The model of the four components of good practice shown in Figure 1 acknowledges that learning about social work cannot just be about theoretical knowledge and academic learning, but that it has to be related to the application of this knowledge to the setting where social work is practised, the skills that are used and the value base implicit in direct work with people.

The four components of good practice are:

  • knowledge
  • values and ethics
  • the social work process
  • skills.
Figure 1 The four components of good practice in social work

Your practice and your reflections upon what you learn about social work will be guided by your understanding and application of these four components of good practice.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus