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Applied social work practice

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This is a compulsory module of the BA (Hons) Social Work (Wales). You must be registered on the degree and have passed all Stage 1 modules, or have completed the Certificate of Higher Education in Social Work Practice (Wales) to study. You should be working in a practice context (paid or unpaid) and be sponsored by your employing agency. The module helps you to understand the application of social work practice, addressing key roles for social workers and relevant knowledge, values and skills for the social work process. It also includes a 90-day practice learning opportunity under the supervision of a practice educator. 

What you will study

This is one of two compulsory modules that make up the second level of the three level degree in Wales. The degree programme has been approved by the Social Care Wales. See Applied social work practice (K216) for information about the version to be studied for the degree in social work for students in England and Scotland.

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 help you to apply your learning to your current social work practice. The module is structured in three blocks of study:

  • Working with needs and risk
  • Working with groups and networks
  • Working with communities and diversity.

Each block consists of four units, with an introduction and conclusion to the module forming two additional units, so that there are 14 units in all.

The module will enable you to:

  • make relevant application of the social work occupational standards and codes of professional practice in Wales
  • apply underpinning knowledge, including theories and methods for practice, relevant to the six key roles of 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 level or stage of the degree.

The module also helps you to build on your skills in digital and information literacy, based upon Social Care Wales requirements.

Professional recognition

This is one of a set of modules that together constitute an approved programme leading to a degree in social work approved by Social Care Wales.

Entry requirements

To study this module you must:

  • be registered for the BA (Hons) Social Work (Wales) with the University 
  • be registered as a social work student with the Social Care Wales
  • be sponsored by your employing agency
  • be working in a practice context
  • have passed both OU level 1 modules of the BA (Hons) Social Work (Wales) or Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care Practice (Wales).

If you are sponsored by a Local Authority, they will provide you with appropriate practice learning opportunities and may provide additional time to study and reflect on your practice according to the modules you are studying. If you are sponsored by an Independent Sector organisation, or if you are an independent student, the OU will arrange for you to be hosted by a Local Authority who will provide you with appropriate practice learning opportunities.

You will need to spend between seven and ten hours a week studying, in addition to the hours spent on the practice learning opportunity.

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

Preparatory work

You will need to have access to a practice learning opportunity of 90 days, organised by your host Local Authority.

You will receive guidance of how to get started online in your first module mailing. 

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

You’ll also be provided with three module workbooks, four CD-ROMs and other printed materials. Electronic versions of most of the printed study materials are provided on the website.

You will need

Social work settings almost always require the use of Windows-based computers and Microsoft Office applications. 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.

For more details refer to Digital literacy and use of computing on the Social Work degree.

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). Any macOS is unsuitable with this module.

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.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Davies, M. (ed) The Blackwell Companion to Social Work (4th edn) Wiley-Blackwell £30.25 - ISBN 9781118451724

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have two types of tutor on this module: a module 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. 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.

Your tutor will run six compulsory practice skills workshops. Five of these workshops will be full day face-to-face workshops and one of these workshops will be held synchronously online. 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 six compulsory workshops, you will be expected to participate in your online tutor group discussion forum for workshop-learning consolidation exercises.

Your tutor and practice tutor will provide an additional introductory workshop which will be held synchronously online as well as 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.

Our Student Support team will provide general help and guidance with your studies. Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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.

Your end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online.

There will also be a practice educator’s report at the end of your placement making a pass or fail recommendation to be considered by the Practice Assessment Panel, which is finally ratified by the Exams and Assessment Board.

The Open University in Wales will provide support and give general help and guidance with your studies. We would also encourage you to use the Welsh language in your studies, both formally and informally. If you would like to submit some or all of your written assignments in Welsh, you should discuss this with your module tutor, who will be able to provide you with appropriate advice and support. A mentor is available if you would like support with using Welsh in your studies, whether or not you decide to submit written work in Welsh. You will also have access to bilingual Wales-specific resources through the Wales Context forum.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying KZW216 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

Applied social work practice starts once a year – in February.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2024, when we expect it to start for the last time.

Course work includes:

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