This unit of study teaches what theory is and why theory is essential in social work. Through reading and discussion you will develop an understanding of social work theories and their historical origins. Key social work theories, including different theoretical perspectives, explanations and approaches are examined, along with the links between these theories and the broader social work knowledge base. You are introduced to tools for applying theory to contemporary practice scenarios using case studies.

Unit details

Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:


96 credit points of first year core ABSW units.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Understand the role of theory in social work;  
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of different theoretical approaches;  
  3. Apply selected theories to contemporary social work practice; and  
  4. Reflect on the intersections between personal knowledge and theoretical perspectives.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Presentation Video Reflection (5mins) 25%
Report Theory analysis (1500 words) 40%
Report Applying theory to practice scenario (1200 words) 35%
To gain a pass in this unit students must attain a minimum overall grade of 50% and attempt and submit all assessment tasks. Each assessment task covers discrete areas of knowledge and skill required for the successful completion of the social work course.

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.