Consultant Social Work Programme


The CSWP is designed to equip consultant social workers to practice through the provision of expert and research knowledge to others. The CSWP has a focus on improving social work knowledge and practice in a Wales context by enabling research and other critical findings, to be developed and disseminated amongst the wider workforce.

Entrants to the CSWP will:

  • Be a registered social worker with professional experience of not less than five years at the point of enrolment on the programme
  • Have met any other CCW requirements for access
  • Be employed as a senior practitioner or a consultant social worker or have the practice opportunities to evidence the programme requirements
  • Have employer support as appropriate and outlined in a learning agreement, including identified funding

The CSWP consists of two routes:

  • The Modular Route: Completion of three modules over two years
    • Year 1: i) Professional Social work Practice
    • Year 2: ii) Analysis and Evaluation and iii) Development and Dissemination
  • The Dissertation Route: Completion of a dissertation over two years. The student develops a detailed research project in their specialist area of practice

Time Commitment (Modular Route)

Year One Year Two
One 30 credit module equalling 37.5 study days divided into:

  • 15 ‘study days’ divided into:
    • 1 face-to-face module orientation day.
    • 10 days online study time.*
    • 4 days to complete the assignments.
  • 22.5 related practice days
    i.e. carrying out your normal work while applying and reflecting on your learning.
Two 15 credit modules each equals 18.5 study days divided into:

  • 10 study days divided into:
    • 1 face-to-face module orientation day.
    • 6.5 days online study time.*
    • 2.5 days to complete the assignments.
  • 8.5 related practice days
    i.e. carrying out your normal work while applying and reflecting on your learning

*Online study time can be carried out flexibly, at times to suit you. However, each module has a structure (see the module maps) that includes recommended dates for completing content and activities to help you manage your time.


Please find below further details for each of the modules in the CSW Programme.

Where possible we have included a module map and / or some example of module content. The module map gives students a useful summary of all content and activities associated with a module and a recommended timeline for completion. This, along with the example content we have provided is intended to give an illustrative snapshot of the types of content students will engage with as part of their module learning.

Please Note: The Intellectual Property Rights of all content belong to Social Care Wales and materials should not be used by training providers without permission of the Social Care Wales.

We have also included some selected reading for each module, to give an indication of some of the content covered.

Professional Social Work Practice (Year One)

This module is the first of a suite of modules within the Consultant Social Work Programme. It enables students to identify and demonstrate their contribution to the delivery of high quality social work services, service improvements and developments. It also supports students’ maintenance of the currency of their knowledge, ensuring their practice knowledge and skills are continually updated. This leads onto the second module which enables students to identify appropriate sources of social work knowledge, and the third module which addresses dissemination of this knowledge into the field of practice. The module can also be studied on a free-standing basis.

The main emphasis of this module is to introduce the student to evidence enriched practice with a view to high quality social work and social care practice developments.  It will address the important requirement for Consultant Social Workers to demonstrate their ability to draw on a range of sources of knowledge including research and to apply this to the practice context to encourage enhanced quality. Students will be supported to explore the knowledge and skills required by Consultant Social Workers to enable them to perform this role. In addition, students will investigate the requirement for key stakeholders, including service users, to be involved in co-production of responses to social care needs.

The module will support students to explore the concept of the social work knowledge base and the various types of knowledge that comprise this before moving forward to the application of  these knowledge types to enhance social work context. Students will examine the concepts of evidence based and evidence enriched social work practice, critiquing the merits and challenges in students’ own social work settings.

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Analysis & Evaluation (Year Two)

This module follows on from the Professional Social Work Practice module for those doing the taught route of the Consultant Social work programme. The module can also be studied on a free-standing basis. It takes the overall understanding of various social work knowledge bases that students already have and supports them to develop their critical analysis skills of specific elements within the overall research process. In doing so it enables students to accurately identify quality and appropriate sources, relevant to the social workers they support and guide in their day to day practice. Studying this module will support students in acquiring an advanced and critical understanding of methodological considerations that support the use of research evidence to inform social work practice. It will support students to explore their own detailed and critical understanding of evidence through the following topics: The evidence base for their specific  area of practice; critical methodological analysis, Systematic evidence acquisition and the role of the consultant in evidence and knowledge construction.

The main emphasis of this module relates to making quality based  decisions about knowledge sources – in particular students will develop their knowledge of how key research skills; data collection, sampling and analysis, are translated into work-based competencies. These skills will then be utilised in critically analysing specific material pertinent to the context and role of the individual student and work setting.

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Development & Dissemination (Year Two)

This module will support students to develop the role of consultant social worker in informing and influencing social work practice and positioning themselves as agents of change.

The main emphasis of this module relates to sharing knowledge – be this through cascading up-to-date, relevant information; providing advice and support through specialist supervision; modelling best practice; delivering training in evidence-based practice or contributing to the design and delivery of social work training programmes.

This knowledge is rooted in, focussed on and a reflection of the real life issues that relate to the students’ own practice setting and specialist area of practice. The module has strong links with service planning, service development, and service delivery within the local and national political, economic and social backdrops, paying particular regard to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) 2014 Act.

The increased expectations on working collaboratively with service users and carers, families and communities, including the co-creation and co-production of services will also inform this module.

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Selective Indicative Reading (Modular Route)

  • Orme, J. & Shemmings, D. (2010). Developing Research Based Social Work Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Webber, M. (ed) (2015) Applying Research Evidence in Social Work Practice. London: Palgrave

Dissertation Route

The CSWP dissertation route is designed to focus over two academic years on one piece of research.  Over time this may be usefully seen as an opportunity to further develop the specialist areas from the ESWPP and SSWPP although it is not limited to this.

This will follow the structure commonly adopted for research dissertations including following the Cardiff University regulations regarding ethical approval.

Rather than being led by delivery of learning materials (as in the other modules) this will be lead by discussion with a dissertation supervisor. Students will however have access to all the learning materials from the SSWPP’specialist area of research to help in their project.  As with the other areas of specialist interest it is recommended that the subject matter is discussed between student and employer as to suitability of a) the choice of route and b) the subject matter in question.

*Sample resources are provided to illustrate the content of the relevant programme. The Intellectual Property Rights belong to Social Care Wales and materials should not be used by training providers without permission of Social Care Wales.