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Theories and Perspectives for Social Work Practice

Course Code: SOWK 3100
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Social Work
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The course provides the student with an overview of essential traditional, contemporary and emergent theories, models and perspectives relevant to generalist social work practice. Students will examine those important to social work practice such as developmental, biopsychosocial, psychodynamic, relational, systems, anti-oppressive, feminist, social justice, social constructivism, and structural. Students will explore the application of theories, models and perspectives to practice and develop a guiding framework for their own practice

Course Content

The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Human behaviour is highly complex and the social work profession is involved in a wide range of activities. Generalist social workers must have knowledge of a range of theories and perspectives and be able to apply them to guide and evaluate their actions in different situations.
  • Social workers critically evaluate the application of theory to practice and understand how theories, models and perspectives reflect and shape one’s ideas, attitudes and behaviour.

Course content will be informed by current social work research, practice, and scholarship.

Methods of Instruction

Group Exercises
Student Presentations
Use of multimedia resources.

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of any of the following:

  • Examinations
  • Research papers
  • Participation
  • Attendance.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe key attributes of a broad range of social work theories;
  2. Critically evaluate a range of social work theories (traditional, contemporary and emergent);
  3. Articulate the relationship between social work theories, practice, and research;
  4. Identify aspects of a theory that are consistent or inconsistent with one’s own values and professional ethics;
  5. Apply a selection of theories to a situation and describe how each theory guides practice in that situation.

course prerequisites




curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.