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Contemporary social work practice

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​The module helps you to understand the application of social work knowledge to practice, addressing key roles and standards for social workers and relevant knowledge, values and skills for social work. The module includes a practice learning opportunity which meets the individual regulatory practice requirements, in terms of the number of days, for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The practice learning opportunity will be under the supervision of a practice assessor appointed by your sponsoring agency.

What you will study

Following an introductory topic, the module is structured into four blocks of study:

Block 1: The first block includes three topics related to putting knowledge into practice and social work ethics and values.

Block 2: This covers focussing on group works, interprofessional working, care environment and working with communities. Writing in social work practice is also included in this block.

Block 3: This block is dedicated to children and families social work.

Block 4: The final block is all about working with people in the community and strengthening networks.

The study materials provide you with case examples and illustrations of social work practice (using audio and video); original discussion of key social work concepts and theoretical debates; and reprinted articles introducing important theoretical and ethical issues. Activities in the learning materials help you to apply your learning to your current social work practice.

You will learn

This module will enable you to:

  • make relevant application of the UK nation-specific standards in social work laid down by the regulatory bodies for the profession
  • apply underpinning knowledge – including theories and methods for practice – relevant to social work
  • apply the four components of good practice: knowledge; values and ethics; skills; and social work process
  • learn from the expectations and needs of individuals, families, carers, groups, and communities who use services
  • learn from other resource materials in the social work degree programme, so that you can meet the learning requirements appropriate to this stage of the degree.

The module also helps you to build on your skills in information and digital literacy, based upon the requirements of the regulatory bodies for the profession.

Entry requirements

To study this module you must:

​If you are in Scotland, you must also be registered as a social work student with the regulatory body.

The sponsoring agency will provide you with appropriate practice learning opportunities and allow you one day a week study time for 120 credits study each year while you are on the programme. There will be a pro-rata reduction in the entitlement of study time allowed if you are studying less than 120 credits per year. Sponsoring agencies can contact us for further information.

You will need to spend between seven and ten hours a week studying, in addition to having access to a practice learning opportunity organised by your sponsoring agency: 70 days in England, 85 days in Northern Ireland, 90 days in Wales and 100 days in Scotland.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

  • be registered for the relevant degree in social work for your nation
  • be sponsored by your employing agency
  • be working in a practice context
  • have passed all of the modules for Stage 1 of the BA (Hons) Social Work (England) or Stage 2 for the BA (Hons) Social Work (Scotland)

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course specific study material
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details
  • access to online tutorials and study forums
  • access to teaching and library resources.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have two types of tutor on this module – a tutor and a practice tutor.

Your tutor will help you with the academic content of the module, mark and comment on your written work. You can ask them for advice and guidance. Your tuition is delivered online and contact with your tutor will be through email and online discussion forums, although phone communication may also be used.

Your tutor will run six compulsory practice skills workshops. Four of these workshops will be full day face-to-face workshops and two will be held synchronously online. Also, you will attend one induction session synchronously online at the beginning of the module. These provide essential support for you to apply module concepts to your practice learning setting and for you to prepare for academic and practice assessment. As well as the workshops, you will be expected to participate in your online tutor group discussion forum for workshop-learning consolidation exercises and prepatory recorded tutorials for your tutor-marked assignments and end-of-module assessment.

Your tutor and practice tutor will provide individual support in relation to your practice learning opportunity and your professional development. Questions of a professional social work nature should be directed to your practice tutor.

The Student support team can also give general help and guidance with your studies.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K246 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

Contemporary social work practice (K246) starts once a year – in February.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in February 2032.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment