This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Ethical knowledge and ethical skills are key elements in social work. This 10 credits course seeks to advance the student's understanding of the interaction between ethical theories and contextual social work related to student's background, history and professional practices.

Learning outcome

  • Knowledge on ethics and human justice theories
  • Knowledge on critical reasoning and ethical reflection
  • Knowledge on the interaction between ethical theories and contextual practice

  • Analytical skills in applying different theories and approaches into practice
  • The ability to critically reflect upon on the contextual construction of social work
  • Enhance the ability to reflect upon ethical dilemmas and apply knowledge to describe how to understand and manage ethical dilemmas in social work and welfare practices.
  • Develop cognitive and practical skills in intercultural communication through the international classroom (study group)

  • Advance the students competence to understand and demonstrate how to use theories and methods when reflecting upon social work practices.
  • Advance the students professional competence to manage, justify and control his/her own educational development.


This course will focus on the interaction between student's practices, theories and reflections. The aims are to provide knowledge about ethical theories, enhance critical reasoning and to increase the ability to reflect upon how social work develops in different contexts.
Content of the course relates to the following themes:
  • Ethical theories
  • Contextual Practices
  • Critical reasoning and Ethical reflection
  • Emotional social work
  • Social justice and injustice
  • Child participation
  • Human rights perspectives

To study contextual practices, students will critically reflect upon practice experiences and incidents raising ethical dilemmas.
This course is divided in different subjects:
  • Ethical theories in Social Work
  • Critical incident reflection
  • Field visits

Required prerequisite knowledge



Weight Duration Marks Aid
Individual written home exam1/1 A - F
Individual written work where students reflect upon a critical incident and/or a practice experience that raises ethical dilemmas and apply ethical knowledge and critical reflection to broaden their understanding of the incident/experience. Word count: 4 000 words (+/- 10 %) including table of contents, notes, references and bibliography. Reference style: APA 6th.

Coursework requirements

Mandatory registrered presence
Presence is mandatory (MP) in parts of the course programme (i.e. field visits, seminars and other marked with MP in the lecture plan). Mandatory requirements: 75% presence. If students do not fulfil the MP requirement, students will have to pass an assignment given by the course coordinators in order to take the course exam.

Course teacher(s)

Programme coordinator
Aase Bø-Rygg
Course coordinator
Ingunn Studsrød

Method of work

Lectures, seminars, group work and individual work adapted to different modes of study. All students are expected to read the syllabus and participate in student group- and classroom discussions. Comparative practices will be exercised within an international classroom when students are sharing and reflecting about different life experiences.
Throughout the course, there will be group sessions where students will complete assignments related to the final individual exam. Students will receive feedback on their work from other students and from the course leaders.
Additionally to classroom learning and group exercises, the course coordinator will facilitate a web based learning platform (Canvas).

Open to

Nordic Master in Social Work and Welfare

Course assessment

The courses will be assessed every semester by the Consortium


Books/sections in books:
Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (2002). Critical practice in social work. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Selected Chapters:
  1. Payne, M., Adams, R. & Dominelli, L. (2002). On being critical in social work. In: Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (eds). Critical practice in Social Work, pp. 1-12. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (12 pages)
  2. Dominelli, L. (2002). Values in social work: Contested entities with enduring qualities. In: Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (eds). Critical practice in Social Work, pp. 15-27. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (13 pages).
  3. Clark, C.( 2002). Identity, individual rights and social justice. In: Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (eds). Critical practice in Social Work, pp. 43-51. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (8 pages).
  4. Briskman, L. (2002) Pushing ethical boundaries for children and families. In: Adams, R., Dominelli, L. & Payne, M. (eds). Critical practice in Social Work, pp. 51-66. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (15 pages).

Banks, S. (2012) Ethics and Values in Social Work (4th edition). Palgrave Macmillan. (app. 185 pages).
Goffman, E (1963). Stigma, Prentice-Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs, Chapter 2 (64 pages)
Løgstrup, K. E. (1997). The ethical demand, part 1 and 2 (pp 8-43). Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press (35 pages)

Selected articles/book chapters
Banks, S. (2016). Everyday ethics in professional life: Social work as ethics work. Ethics and Social
Welfare 10(1). 35-52 (17 pages).

Banks, S. & Nøhr, K. (2012).* Practising Social Work Ethics around the world Cases and
Commentaries, Case study 2.3 (pp. 54-61), Case study 3.2 (84- 90), and Case study 4.3 (pp. 130-138) (21 pages).

Ellingsen, I., Studsrød, I. & Muñoz- Guzmán (2019). The child, the parents, the family and the state-
Chile and Norway compared. Journal of Comparative Social Work 14(1), 93-114 (21 pages).

Fook, J. & Askeland, G. A.* (2006). The “critical” in critical reflection. In: White, S. Fook, J. & Gardner, F. (eds) Critical refection in health and welfare (pp. 40-53). Leeds Trinity University: Open University Press (13 pages).
Hansen, F. T. (2008).* The personal essay as a Philosophical practice (English version 7 pages). Available at:åk.pdf
Healy, K. (2005)* Social Work Theories in Context: Creating Frameworks for Practice (Chapter 1: Practicing social work: Why context matters, pp 1-16). Palgrave, London (16 pages).
Hugaas, J.V. (2010). Evil’s Place in the Ethics of Social Work. Ethics and social Welfare 4(3), 254- 279
(25 pages).

Jorgensen, G. (2006). Kohlberg and Gilligan. Duet or duel? Journal of moral education 35 (2), 179-196
(17 pages).

Julkunen, I. Rauhala, P.-L. (2013)*. Otherness, social welfare and social work – a Nordic perspective. Journal of Nordic Social Work 3(2), 105-119 (15 pages)
Lindebaum, D., Geddes, D. & Gabriel, Y. (2017). Moral Emotions and Ethics in Organisations:
Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Business Ethics, DOI 10.1007/s10551-016-3201-z, p. 645-656 (11 pages.).

Miller, C.M. (2017)*. Reconsidering dignity relationally. Ethics and Social Welfare 11(2), 108-121 (13

Owens, J., Madenov, T. & Cribb, A*. (2017). What justice, what autonomy? The ethical constrains
upon personalisation. Ethics and Social welfare 11 (1), 3-18 (15 pages).

Sommer, D., Samuelsson, I. P. & Hundeide (2013)*. Introduction: Child perspectives and children’s perspectives – the Scandinavian context. In: Child perspectives and children’s perspectives in theory and practice (chapter 1). London: Springer (23 pages)

In addition, course participants should select a list of readings containing app 200 pages (relevant for field visits and their essay).
*Article collection put together for the course and available in a Compendium at the Canvas site.

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Sist oppdatert: 25.01.2020