SWK423 Ethics and Social Work Practice (8)

This subject explores the relationship between ethical theory, ethical principles, and professional practice. The overarching theme is the service ethic in social work theory and its implications for practice. The value and adequacy of professional codes as guides to practice will be considered, as well as the conflict between personal and professional values and the legal and organisational context of practice. The notion of moral risk and ethical responsibility will be considered. The subject will conclude with a discussion of ethical decision making and some common practice issues.


Session 1 (30)
Wagga Wagga Campus
Session 2 (60)
Wagga Wagga Campus
Session 3 (90)
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: SWK423. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Enrolment Restrictions

Not for students who have completed SWK424

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • have some knowledge of the ethical theories that form the basis of professional social work practice;
  • have considered the relationship between ethical principles, professional codes, and personal values;
  • have examined the organisational and legal contexts of social work and their implications for practice;
  • understand the processes of ethical reasoning and ethical judgment;
  • have some idea of particular ethical issues in practice.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • The Nature of Ethics and Ethical Theory
  • Utilitarian, Deontological, & Intuisionist Theory
  • Virtue Based Ethics
  • Ethical Relativism, subjectivism, egoism
  • The Ethic of Service
  • Beneficence & Non-Maleficence
  • Autonomy
  • Justice
  • Virtue, Integrity, Veracity, Fidelity
  • Moral risk and moral responsibility
  • Professional Codes
  • Ethics and Organisations
  • Personal and professional values and organisational goals
  • Practice Issues
    • consent and coercion
    • privacy and confidentiality
    • truth telling
    • allocating resources and withdrawing services

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of SWK423 in Session 3 2019. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Assessment item 1
Assessment item 2
Assessment item 3

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: October 2020. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.