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Foundations for social work practice

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Are you interested in social work or social care? Whatever your starting point, this key introductory OU level 1 module will develop your knowledge of the key roles of social work, and introduce the social work standards and codes of practice relevant to each UK nation. You will also build key skills in information and communication technologies (ICT), information literacy and reflective writing. This module includes a minimum 10-day period of verified practice learning in a social care/social work setting, which you will be responsible for organising and attendance at eight workshops.

Registration onto this module doesn't lead to automatic entry to a social work degree. To register for this degree, you must meet a number of criteria, outlined in the sections on the BA (Hons) Social Work (England) or (Scotland).

KYJ113 is not available to students studying in Wales, where students should study Foundations for social work practice (KZW113) instead.

What you will study

The module concentrates on writing about practice, and learning how to apply theoretical learning to practice contexts. The module is divided into eight blocks of learning. Each block covers a particular aspect of understanding social work and use case study material to illustrate and apply these ideas into practice situations.

Block 1 - provides an overview of some of the ideas about how individual psychology and identity are relevant to all social work settings. This includes what values underpin professional identity in the complex situations social workers deal with.

Block 2 - explores the social context that is important both to understand how services are delivered, but also the wider supports and environments that can support or restrict people’s opportunities and life chances. How social workers are concerned with these inequalities, and issues of social justice are examined.

Block 3 - uses children and family work to consider how and why social workers might come to be engaged with people.

Block 4 - concentrates on using issues facing older people in coming to consider the skills and approaches to formal assessment in social work, and how to establish an understanding of someone’s situation.

Block 5 - develops social work approaches of groups and community work to support people with mental health distress. The themes of stigma and discrimination are explored in particular and the models of the constructive ways social workers can address these issues.

Block 6 - provides information about adults with learning disabilities and in particular how their engagement in reviews of services they receive personally, or more general service reviews and evaluations is an important principle for social work with all service users and their carers.

Block 7 - uses models of work with families with children with disabilities to consider partnership working and ideas of early intervention in social work.

Block 8 - concentrates on the issues of professional development and understanding of the personal and regulatory requirements for individuals wishing to develop their professionalism generally or continue with the social work programme.

In addition, to pass the module assessment, you will be required to:

  • complete a minimum period of 10 days verified practice learning in a social care/social work setting. It will be your responsibility to arrange the practice experience including identifying a verifier. To carry out this shadowing experience you may be asked to provide a current Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) certificate. If you do not have a certificate and one is required, it will be your responsibility to negotiate and fund it.
  • attend eight one-day practice skills workshops (normally held on a Saturday) with your tutor group to provide you with the chance to explore the theoretical themes in relation to the realities of social work practice. 
It is also recommended that you shadow a social worker during your 10-day practice experience. This is not a requirement, however, if this opportunity is not available.   

During this module you will develop your ICT skills and can gain marks for this both in continuous assessment and in the end-of-module assessment. There are also online discussions that take place immediately after each workshop to continue your interactions with your tutor and fellow students and develop your online communication skills.

Professional recognition

Successful completion of KYJ113 does not lead to automatic entry to the social work degree programme in England and Scotland as you must meet specific requirements. 

To subsequently gain sponsorship and entry onto the Social Work programme you must be working in a social care setting and be sponsored by your employer. You will then be able to count KYJ113, in addition to any other relevant module studied e.g. An introduction to health and social care (K101), towards your degree. KYJ113 cannot be counted towards the social work degree in Wales.

Entry requirements

This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, which help you to progress to modules at OU level 2.

You are strongly recommended to have some experience in a social care setting. This could include voluntary work. You are strongly recommended to consider studying An introduction to health and social care (K101), or a social science module e.g. Introducing the social sciences (DD102) before or alongside KYJ113. 

Studying social work is demanding, if you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

You will receive guidance of how to get started online in your first module mailing. This will provide you with information on using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide. For example, it explains how to access and use your website and online discussion forums. If you have time before the module starts, you can work through this and explore all the online services available to you.

What's included

All study materials are provided.

You will need

Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word and Excel).

Social work settings almost always require the use of Windows-based computers and Microsoft Office applications. Many digital literacy activities within the Social Work Programme are therefore based on the Windows operating system and on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Students should ensure that they have access to the above software for the duration of the programme, and we strongly recommend that they are run on a Microsoft Windows-based computer.

We recommend that you purchase the following book:
Davies, M. (ed) The Blackwell Companion to Social Work (4th edn) Wiley-Blackwell £28.99 - ISBN 9781118451724

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • macOS 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Part of your tuition is delivered online so some of the contact with your tutor will be through email and online discussion forums, although phone communication may also be used. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Your tutor will run eight obligatory workshops (usually held on a Saturday) including two in the first month of study. Requests for excusal from a workshop are dealt with by your tutor who will advise on ways you can compensate for your absence. In addition to the eight workshops, you will be expected to participate in your online tutor-group discussion forum for workshop-learning consolidation exercises. Questions of a professional, social work nature should be directed to your tutor.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You must submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA) online. The interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs) are accessed via the website.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying KYJ113 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Foundations for social work practice starts once a year – in February. This page describes the module that will start in February 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2022. 

Course work includes:

8 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
3 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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