Social Work Theory

Degree Program: Social Administration (4th semester -elective)

Teaching hours: 3 per week-5 ECTS

Course tutor: Theano Kallinikaki, Professor

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Purpose and description of the course

The theoretical foundation of social work is characterized by great width, complexity and evolution as a result of the continuous social change which influences the practice.

Course focuses on the different theories, these for understanding genesis, expansion and reproduction of the social problems and those of making meaning of and proving the practice of social work. Developmental, Knowledge (Piaget) theories, sociological (change roles, discrimination, power structures) and theories of social policy are taught. Also theories with early and major influence in shaping the practice of generic social work, counseling and of clinical social work, such as psychodynamic , systems, social learning and conflict theory.
Emphasis is placed on the ways in which social work has embraced major ideological movements as, Marxism, feminism, positivism, radicalism, ecology and the struggle of the modern – postmodern, to its most popular intervention approaches like strengths, problem solving, solution focused and narrative.

Learning objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge about and critically analyze relevant theories of human behavior and lifespan development comparing value assumptions, strengths, and limitations
  • Describe the social construction of theoretical concepts, and its empirical evidence
  • Analyze the impact of factors as race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and physical and mental ability on risk and resilience, identity development, and human interactions within social systems
  • Conduct a scientific review of empirical evidence and theory to address the professional relation ship and the intervention process
  • Use case studies in order to demonstrate how practice theories navigate and prove the methods, the techniques and the evaluation of practice.


Systematic and active participation in the classroom is a major expectation of the teacher.

Students have to write a compulsory essay on one particular subject. The final mark is at a 75 % of performance in written examination test and a 25 % at the essay.


Dimopoulou – Lagonika M. (2011). Social Work Methodology. Intervention models. Athens : TOPOS .

Dominelli, L. (2004). Social Work: Theory and Practice for a Changing Profession. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Healy, K. (2005). Social Work Theories in Context. Creating Frameworks for Practice. London: Palgrave.

Howe, D. (1993). An introduction to Social Work Theory. Cambridge: University Press.

Fook, J., Ryan, M. & Hawkins, L. (2000). Professional Expertise: Practice, Theory and Education for Working in Uncertainty. London: Whiting and Birch.

Oko, J. (2008). Understanding and Using Theory in Social Work. UK: Learning Matters.

Payne, M. (2000). Contemporary theory of social work. Transl. S. Stratigaki, eds Th. Kallinikaki. Athens: Greek Letters.

Walsh, J. (2010 ). Theories for Direct Social Work Practice. USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Fook, J. (ed.) (1996). The Reflective Researcher: Social Workers’ Theories of Practice Research. NY: Allen and Unwin.

Gray, M. & Webb S.A. (2009). Social Work Theory and Method. London: Sage