Law, Policy and Ethics

The details
Health and Social Care (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
28 February 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

DIP L50017 Social Work,
MA L50021 Social Work

Module description

The central purpose of this module is to provide an environment where students can explore issues and concerns of legislation, policy making and ethics in practice. The module will also focus on building the foundations of legislation relating to children and young people, adult social care, mental health and mental capacity.
Through this module, social work students will have the opportunity to explore the process of ethical decision making alongside students and tutors from the Law Clinic. Law and social work staff will be making use of the giving voice to values approach which focuses on empowering decision making for transformational leadership.

The module will include an exploration of the notions of social justice, moral judgment, equality and the impact of legislation and guidance on people and people's rights- in short social work what one writer has termed social works "rights and wrongs" (Doel, 2016).

Module aims

The module will introduce students to the skills required for ethical practice in the context of safeguarding and protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults. The module also aims to introduce students to the skills related to legislation and regulation including advocacy and legal research skills.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the learner will be able to:
1. Accurately identify and select elements of legislation appropriate to specific instances of social work practice.
2. Critically consider the legal and policy bases of social work practice.
3. Present arguments that clearly and effectively communicate professional decisions based on legal and ethical principles.
4. Critically reflect on own practice in order to evaluate the impact of relationships between legislative framework, professional code of conduct and organisational policy on social work practice in response to human rights issues.
5. Listen and respond to the thinking of others in order to develop plans and ideas that progress cases.

Module information

Learning activities will include tutor led presentations, group discussions of how to practise
social work in ways that are lawful and ethical; how to work with experts by experience, service
users, carers and others to examine and explore the impact of legislation, regulation, social
policy and ethical issues and how to examine and explore issues relating to personal and
organisational oppression.
The module will also provide opportunities for inter-disciplinary teaching, in conjunction with
the Law Clinic, through the 'Giving Voice to Values' pedagogy. Law and social work staff will
be making use of the giving voice to values approach which focuses on empowering decision
making for transformational leadership.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will combine several different teaching approaches, incorporating lectures, group work, computers skill-based sessions and joint workshops with students and tutors based in the Law Clinic. Lectures: As noted above it is expected that lectures will be incorporated within the scheduled days of teaching and learning activity as outlined in the attached timetable. Independent: Small/ PBL group work and independent work on searching the literature and any research related activities. Practice and presentations to be discussed on sphere of practice. Online: A range of materials and resources relating to this module are available through the MA Social Work and Human Rights Moodle site. Students should upon registering for this module be able to access this Moodle course by going to https://moodle.essex.ac.uk or by accessing Moodle via the 'my study' section of the main University of Essex website. If you are experiencing any technical difficulties with Moodle then please contact; helpdesk@essex.ac.uk Tutorials: On commencing the course students will be allocated an Academic Supervisor, (usually the module leader). Academic Supervisors will support the student in the preparation of the module assessment. Students will be expected to meet with their Academic Supervisor on a regular basis throughout the course. Arrangements for supervision will be the responsibility of the student. Any student may elect to change his/her Academic Supervisor following discussion with the module or programme Leader or the Director of Education. Students are expected to maintain contact with their academic and practice Supervisors throughout the module. Tutorial sessions will be negotiated between student and supervisor. It expected that tutorial support and supervision will total no more than 2 full days over the period of the module. Skills: Students are expected to engage in a range of research related activities: searching the literature, visiting the library, attending seminars and participating to the joint Law-Social Work workshops.


  • Alcock, Peter; May, Margaret. (2014) Social policy in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan International Higher Education.
  • Madden, Mary; Speed, Ewen. (2017) 'Beware Zombies and Unicorns: Toward Critical Patient and Public Involvement in Health Research in a Neoliberal Context', in Frontiers in Medical Sociology. vol. 2, pp.7-
  • Beresford, Peter. (2016) 'The origins of the welfare state', in All our welfare: towards participatory social policy, Bristol: Policy Press., pp.49-65
  • Pilgrim, David. (2014) 'Social Stratification and mental health', in A sociology of mental health and illness, Maidenhead: Open University., pp.21-36

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Practical   PechaKucha Presentation (09/02/2024)    50% 
Written Exam  MCQ Online Quiz (14/12/2023)    50% 

Additional coursework information

Presentation (100%), phonetics and linguistics test (pass/fail)

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Peter Hall, email: prghal@essex.ac.uk.
Jakub Kulesza Student Programme Administrator pgsocwork@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Mrs Karen Jane Hubbard
University of Hull
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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