The Department of Social Studies

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Table of Contents

Section One Introduction Page 2

Section Two Course Content & Individual

Course Outlines Page 14

Section Three Practice Placements Page 73

Section Four Dissertation Guidelines Page 84

Section Five Guidelines on the Presentation

of Written Assignments Page 88

Appendix One Code of Conduct & Disciplinary

Procedures Page 91

Section One


The Department of Social Studies

The Department of Social Studies is a lively active Department with a focus on social work, social policy and related areas. It offers nine taught programmes at undergraduate and post-graduate levels, provides supervision to a number of post-graduate students undertaking higher degrees by research, and promotes a range of research activity. It has strong connections to many academic, professional and policy networks and a range of international links. The Department has particular strengths in the areas of children and families, drug and alcohol issues, and in-service training programmes. There is a steady rate of publication from the Department.

The Department co-sponsors two Research Centres: the Addiction Research Centre (with the School of Pharmacy) and the Children’s Research Centre (with the Dept. of Psychology). It also hosts a Social Policy Research Group and shares responsibility with other BESS faculty departments for the management of the Policy Institute.

Social work education at Trinity dates back to 1934. The Department, from September 2002, will offer two routes to professional qualification in social work: the long established Bachelor in Social Studies (BSS) route for eligible school leavers and mature entrants; and the new Masters in Social Work route for graduates with a social science or equivalent degree and sufficient relevant experience. As with other Irish social work programmes, the Trinity courses are registered for accreditation by the National Social Work Qualifications Board. The BSS programme was first accredited in 1975 and the process required to secure initial accreditation is under way for the Masters in Social Work programme.


In addition to the two social work education programmes, the Department offers three interdisciplinary Diploma courses, three Master's courses, a joint Sociology/Social Policy degree, and evening courses, and also contributes to a range of programmes outside the department. The department attracts visiting students and academics, supervises postgraduate students, and has a substantial research profile.

As can be seen, the department accommodates an exciting mix of people with diverse backgrounds and experience. We hope that students of the Department will have many opportunities to meet with and to learn from one another.

Overview of Courses

Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor in Social Studies (BSS) - TR 084

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Social Policy (BA.Soc.Soc.Pol) - TR 083

Postgraduate Taught Courses

Undergraduate Diplomas

  • Diploma in Addiction Studies

  • Diploma in Counselling

Postgraduate Research Degrees

Continuing Professional Training

  • Evening Courses

  • Practice Teacher Training & Support Courses

  • Social Work Team Leaders' Courses

  • A variety of short courses offered to individual agencies


The Department promotes research in the broad area of social work and social policy.

It has particular research strengths in the areas of: Child Welfare, Addictions, Social Security, the Welfare State, Housing Policy, and the Voluntary Community Sector. The Department aims to make a significant contribution to policy development and service provisions through research in its fields of interests. It also joins in the work of the Policy Institute initiative supported by various departments of the BESS faculty.

Social Studies Staff members undertake commissioned research projects as well as pursuing their own research interests. Studies have been completed for many major state and voluntary sector agencies including government departments, health boards, Combat Poverty Agency, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, National Youth Federation and the Dublin Homelessness initiative. These studies are under two broad headings: The Voluntary / Community Sector Research Programme and The Social Service and Social Needs Research Programme.

Departmental Staff


Shane Butler Senior Lecturer in Social Work 3072 (01) 608 2009 & Coordinator of the M.Sc in

Drug & Alcohol Policy.

Helen Buckley Senior Lecturer in Social Work, 3067 (01) 608 2065 Coordinator Diploma Child

Protection & Welfare.

Helen Coughlan Lecturer in Social Work TBA (01) 608 2423

Alison Dye Coordinator of Counselling 3053 (01) 608 1904 Diploma

Prof Robbie Gilligan Head of Department, Coordinator 3062 (01) 608 1331 M.Sc in CPAW & & Director of

The Children's Research Centre

Stephanie Holt Lecturer in Social Work TBA (01) 608 3658

Margaret Kirby Lecturer in Social Work & 3056 (01) 608 2627 Fieldwork Coordinator

Gloria Kirwan Lecturer in Social Work 3054 (01) 608 3707

Anthony McCashin Lecturer in Social Policy 3060 (01) 608 1312

Erna O’Connor Lecturer in Social Work & 3056 (01) 608 2627

Fieldwork Coordinator

Patrick O’Dea Lecturer in Social Work & 3056 (01) 608 2627

Fieldwork Co-ordinator

Judy O’Shea Lecturer in Social Policy (01) 608 3708

Ruth Torode Senior Lecturer in Social Work & 3058 (01) 608 1025 Director of the BSS Programme

Patricia Walsh Lecturer in Social Work & 3057 (01) 608 2423 Director of Masters in Social Work Programme

Marguerite Woods Lecturer in Social Studies & 3073 (01) 608 2827 Coordinator Dip. in Addiction


Anthony Coughlan Senior Lecturer Emeritus in (01) 608 1898 Social Work

Simon Brooke Part-time lecturer in Social Policy

Sophie Carey Part-time lecturer in Social Policy

Anna – Fiona Keogh Part-time lecturer in Social Policy

Part-Time Lecturers in Social Work for MSW Programme1

Peter Coughlan Skills Workshops

Eleanor Jenkins Skills Workshops

Conor Power Child & Family Law

Dr. Caroline Heary Psychology

Marguerite Hanratty Community Work

Cliona Murphy Social Work Research

Part-Time Tutors in Social Work for MSW Programme2

Anna Deneher Tutor

Administrative Staff

Anne Doyle BSS / Social Studies 3063 (01) 608 2001 Office Hours:

9.00am – 5.00pm

Terry Heenan Child Protection & Welfare 3063 (01) 608 3593

Pam Isaacson Addiction Studies 3063 (01) 608 3593 Office Hours

9.00am – 1.00pm

Dee McKiernan MSW / Fieldwork 3057 (01) 608 2423 Office Hours:

Mon – Thurs

9.00am – 5.00pm

Masters in Social Work Course Team

Trish Walsh, Course Director

Helen Coughlan, Lecturer in Social Work

Stephanie Holt, Lecturer in Social Work

Judy O’Shea, Lecturer in Social Policy

Margaret Kirby / Erna O’Connor / Patrick O’Dea, Fieldwork Co-ordinators3

Deirdre Mc Kiernan, Executive Officer.

Masters in Social Work Course Committee

The programme is managed by a course committee which consists of the following:

Robbie Gilligan, Head of Department

Trish Walsh, Course Director

Ruth Torode, Senior Lecturer in Social Work & BSS Course Director

Stephanie Holt, Lecturer in Social Work

Dr. Caroline Heary, Department of Psychology

2 practice teachers4

1 part-time social work tutor5

2 student representatives (one from each year)6

Lecturers with substantial inputs on the course.

In addition to student representation on course committees, there will be regular staff-student liaison through class seminars and additional scheduled meetings, to discuss matters of mutual interest or concern.

Masters in Social Work Practice Panel

A Practice Panel will be established in the Spring of 2003, consisting of practitioners with experience of practice teaching at MSW level. The panel members will review placement reports and projects submitted by students with a view to providing advice to the course team both on the maintenance of standards in relation to performance on placement and on the quality of practice teaching and teacher’s reports. Their annual report will be made available to the External Examiner

Masters in Social Work /BSS Advisory Board

An MSW/BSS Advisory Board is to be established during the 2002 – 2003 academic year consisting of representatives from social work services in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. The primary function of the Board will be to provide advice to the Department on current and planned policy and service developments, which may have a bearing on social work education programme design. The Board will advise both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifying courses. It will include representatives from medical, child care, probation, voluntary service and specialist settings and will meet annually.

Masters in Social Work External Examiner 2003 - 2006

Dr. John Pinkerton, Queens University, Belfast.

Postgraduate Professional Social Work Education

The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments Social work interventions range from primarily person-focused psychosocial processes to involvement in social policy, planning and development. These include counselling, clinical social work, group work, social pedagogical work, and family treatment and therapy as well as efforts to help people obtain services and resources in the community. Interventions also include agency administration, community organisation and engaging in social and political action to impact social policy and economic development.’ (International Federation of Social Workers, Montreal, 2000)

The Masters in Social Work /Dip. SW course is the main route into professional social work for applicants with a first social science degree. It leads to both an academic Postgraduate Diploma or Masters Degree, and a professional qualification in social work. The professional qualification (NQSW) is awarded by the National Social Work Qualifications Board (NSWQB), and the academic qualification is awarded by the University of Dublin.

Selection of Candidates

The normal requirements for entry to the MSW programme are

a) 1 year's relevant practice experience


b) Successful completion (minimum 2. 2 grade) of a Social Science Degree

A Social Science degree normally includes foundation modules in Economics

and Politics and major modules in Sociology and Social Policy

a) Practice experience will be judged on the basis of the quality and relevance of either paid or voluntary work experience, and what the individual candidate has learned from carrying out the duties involved. Aspects that will be considered include the nature of the tasks undertaken, the quantity and quality of supervision and training available to, and availed of by, the candidate, and connections the candidate can make between practice experiences and wider social issues. Practice experience should consist of one year’s fulltime experience or its equivalent in part-time hours. Examples of relevant experience would include work as: residential child care or social care workers, social work assistant, access or family support workers. Voluntary work examples are phone line counselling, volunteer support and befriending work, and community activism relating to particular social issues

In relation to requirement b)

A minority of candidates may be admitted who have completed a 'non-standard' social science degree (such as a degree in sociology and psychology), which may not have covered certain social science subjects, but which included other highly relevant and compensatory subjects for social work.

In such cases, shortfalls are identified at selection and successful candidates are notified that they will be provided with compensatory teaching and required to complete an assignment in the shortfall subject area during the first term of the course. This compensatory teaching aims to bring students to a standard in the shortfall subject, which permits them to complete all assessed work in the first year of the MSW Programme to a satisfactory standard.

Selection for the 20 places available on this course will be made on the basis of written applications, references and interviews.

The Masters in Social Work is both a professional and vocational course. Social work is a challenging and a rewarding activity and a personal commitment to the ideals and values of social work is important. Those considering social work as a profession need to be aware of its ethical and value dimensions and in particular the commitment to social justice. Applicants should ensure that they can demonstrate a reasonably informed knowledge of what social work entails at interview.

The course selection process begins in January/February of each year when advertisements for the course will be placed both in Irish newspapers and on the College website. Interviews for selection of candidates will take place in Feb/March and places will be offered in April/May. A waiting list of suitable applicants may be created. A new competition for places will take place each year. Applicants who are offered a place for one year may not defer their registration but will need to reapply for admission in a new competition in a subsequent year.

Applications for the MSW course are processed by the Graduate Studies Office of Trinity College and not the Department of Social Studies itself.

Masters in Social Work Course Aims and Objectives

The objective of the course is to graduate students who are prepared for beginning practice as professional social workers. The course is generic in nature and concentrates on the development of skills, knowledge and practices which are translatable across contexts, as well as the provision of course content which is specifically focused on practice in diverse contexts.

As a postgraduate course, the emphasis will be on self-directed learning underpinned by principles for adult learning. Course participants are viewed as active partners in the education process, who come to the course not only with a primary degree and background in the social work/social care field but also with individually unique rich biographies of personal experiences and qualities.

The aims of the Trinity MSW course team in providing this programme are:

  • To help students develop appropriately their knowledge and understanding of social work practice.

  • To prepare students for professional practice which is ethically based.

  • To facilitate students’ development of skills in critical reflective practice.

  • To encourage students to consider the impact of inequality and oppressions on the lives of their clients and to develop a commitment to principles of social justice as a central core of their practice.

  • To develop an informed and skilled practice base centred around the philosophy of the strengths perspective.

  • To emphasise the role of research-informed practice as a sound basis for professional integrity.

  • To develop a critical knowledge and understanding of the formation and evaluation of Irish social policy.


Effective and professional social work practice is based on three core components: knowledge, skills and values. The curriculum of this Masters in Social Work programme is designed to enable students to develop practices and perspectives which are consonant with social work values and ethics, which promote a non-oppressive form of practice and which draw confidently on relevant knowledge bases to provide a skill-based service to clients and agencies. Graduates from this course will be equipped as beginning practitioners who can commence professional practice but who will continue to develop and refine their skills and practice over time. Skills in critical reflective practice will be taught on the course and recommended as an invaluable aid to continuing professional development once professional education has been completed.

The programme, as is the norm for social work educational programmes, is designed to create two types of learning opportunities for its students: the first is academic or classroom learning and the second is practice learning, based in social work agencies. The intention is to create a structure that allows students to develop a theory-informed practice and also practice-informed theories. While practice and academic inputs remain separate in each of the two years, there is an expectation that in the third integrative term in each year, a synthesis of academic and practice-based learning will be developed.

The logic of the academic curriculum is to offer generic foundation courses in Year One, while courses in Year Two will deal with more specialised forms of social work practice.

Course Regulations


Students in the first instance will register for the Masters in Social Work programme. The pass mark for written work in Year One is 40%. Students who wish to submit a thesis for examination at the end of Year Two for the award of Masters in Social Work must achieve a pass mark of 50% in all written work in Year One.

Those students who, having had one opportunity to resubmit written work, still have not obtained a standard of at least 50% in all written work in Year One will not be permitted to submit a thesis for examination for the Masters in Social Work at the end of Year Two. Instead, those who have obtained a pass mark of 40% in all written work and have therefore passed Year one, will be permitted to proceed to Year Two and submit a lesser thesis for examination for the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work.

All successful candidates for the Masters in Social Work and the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work will also be awarded the National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW).

Coursework Assessment

All written work must be submitted in order to fulfil the requirements of the course.

Guidance as to the presentation of written assignments is provided in a later section.

Students will be permitted to resubmit once, written work that either fails or does not reach the 50% standard, provided that they do so within two months of having received their mark on the original work. Supplemental examination papers will be set for students who do not reach the necessary grade in an examination paper. A student will, in the normal course of events, have one opportunity to re-sit an examination paper.

The Court of Examiners takes place at the end of June of each academic year. In the case of students who need to either repeat a fieldwork placement, or re-submit a piece of academic work, an additional meeting of the Court of Examiners may be held in September to consider these results.

In the case of the dissertation in Year Two, students will need to submit their dissertations by the specified date at the beginning of June in order to be considered by the Court of Examiners that year.

Practice Assessment

Fieldwork placements must be passed for students to proceed from Year One to Year Two and there is no compensation between academic and practice performance. Guidance on the assessment of practice is contained in a later section.

The External Examiner oversees practice assessment reports, as well as academic assessments. He/she may hold an oral examination of the student and interview practice teacher and/or tutor at the request of either student, tutor or practice teacher, or may initiate this procedure himself/herself.

The National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW) cannot be awarded to students who do not successfully complete all programme requirements.

Appeal Mechanisms

In the first instance, a student who is dissatisfied with the outcome of an evaluation of either a practice or academic element of the course, may request of the Course Director, a review of the outcome. The Course Director, in conjunction with the Head of Department will consider such an appeal.

In the second instance, a student may avail of the College Appeals Procedures for postgraduate students, details of which are contained within the Graduate Students Handbook (Calender Part Two) furnished to all students upon registration.

Course Expectations

The Programme is a professional training course. Part of that training entails adopting standards of behaviour and practice that denote sound professional practice. Reliability, punctuality, participation, peer support and respect for colleagues are not only expectations of employers and colleagues in work settings but are also our expectations of students on this programme. Time management and organisational skills are also crucial survival skills in the field of social work which we will expect students to develop and demonstrate on the course.

The following are therefore course requirements:

Attendance - students are expected to attend all components of the course consistently. Full attendance is considered essential for both academic (including tutorial) and practice components. In the case of sickness or exceptional personal circumstances, a limited amount of non-attendance may be allowed if the Course Committee (in consultation with tutor and practice teacher when on placement) is satisfied that the relevant course or practice work can be compensated for in other ways.

Punctuality:- students are expected to attend lectures, tutorials and placement days on time. While on placement, students should also endeavour to be on time for appointments with clients and colleagues.

Reliability:- students will be required to make class presentations or prepare material for specific classes and should ensure that they fulfil these commitments. Similarly on placement, commitments should be honoured.

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