Research, evaluation and scholarship are integral to social work practice. A critical social work approach influences all aspects of research practice; from the research topics we choose, to the way we utilise research findings in our everyday practice. While critical social research is the tradition that shares critical social work's aim of bringing about transformational change, other traditions also produce material that can be an important resource for social work. This unit of study introduces students to the importance of developing a critical reflective practice when undertaking, or utilising, social work research. It builds on understandings developed in ASW1901 Social Work Research 1 or ASX1003 Foundations of Social Science Research. Students continue to examine the importance of research in social work practice and the philosophical bases of social work research. This unit includes a focus on qualitative data analysis, and a module on analysing and presenting quantitative data. Students have the opportunity, in computer labs, to learn the basics of computer-based data analysis. Emphasis is on descriptive statistics and presenting data in meaningful ways.

Unit details

Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:


192 Credit points (Core ABSW Year 1 and Year 2)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate an understanding of social research and its role in social work practice;  
  2. Analyse the implications of different paradigms used within social research;  
  3. Evaluate critically the strengths and limitations of published research;  
  4. Investigate and appraise ethical issues and ethical guidelines for social work research;  
  5. Analyse qualitative data and employ computer software packages for quantitative data analysis, and the presentation of descriptive statistics.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Assignment Structured critical analysis of course concepts presented in the first four weeks (500 words) 25%
Report Research proposal including literature review and research design (2,000 words) 45%
Test Quantitative and quantitative data analysis test (1,000 words equivalent) 30%

Required reading

Social research 4th ed.
Sarantakos, S. (2012)
New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Where to next?

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.