Information on individual educational components (ECTS-Course descriptions) per semester

Degree programme:Bachelor Social Work Fulltime
Type of degree:FH Bachelor´s Degree Programme
 Summer Semester 2020

Course unit titleSocial Work as a Human Rights Profession
Course unit code04854151
Language of instructionEnglish
Type of course unit (compulsory, optional)Compulsory
Semester when the course unit is deliveredSummer Semester 2020
Teaching hours per week2
Year of study2020
Level of course unit (e.g. first, second or third cycle)First Cycle (Bachelor)
Number of ECTS credits allocated5
Name of lecturer(s)Sharon DU PLESSIS-SCHNEIDER

Prerequisites and co-requisites

Prerequisites for Incomings: Basic knowledge in working with people in social work and/or related disciplines.

Course content
  • Historical development of human rights
  • Human need as the universal baseline for human rights entitlements and protections
  • How do we infuse human rights into social work? Explore the linkage between human rights and social work 
  • Country based case studies of human rights violations through a social work lens 
  • Examine the role of social workers as agents of change for the promotion of human rights locally and globally
  • Developing human rights-based social work course of action
Learning outcomes


  • deepen their understanding of international human rights documents and instruments and critically reflect on human right protections.
  • evaluate human rights concerns from a critical perspective. 
  • identify the basic legal and strategic frameworks of the United Nations and its agencies.
  • apply human rights in case studies and comprehend the implications for social work.
  • reflect on social work as a human rights profession as defined by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).
  • recognise the applicability of social work concepts to broader human rights topic.
  • evaluate human rights concerns from a critical social work science perspective.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Small group discussions, forum, workshop, experiential exercises, debates and self-organized learning.

Assessment methods and criteria

Shadow report (either as a group project or independently): A shadow report is a tool for NGOs and other groups supporting human rights. By submitting a shadow report to a UN treaty body committee, issues not raised by governments, or in cases where the government may be misleading the committee from the real situation, are exposed. Your task is to write a shadow report concerning one of the nine International Human Rights Instruments. Further details will be discussed in class. 


Not applicable.

Recommended or required reading

Galtung, John (1994). Human Rights in Another Key, 1 edition, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gil. David G. (2012). Confronting social injustice and oppression: Concepts and strategies for social workers. NY: Columbia University Press.

Healy, Lynne (2008). Exploring the History of Social Work as a Human Rights Profession, International Social Work 51.6: pp. 735-48.

Hemphill, Sheryl and Schneider, Sharon (2013). Excluding Students from School: A Re-examination from a Children’s Rights Perspective. The International Journal of Children s Rights 21(1):pp. 88-96.

Ife, Jim (2008). Human Rights and Social Work, Cambridge University Press; Revised edition. International Federation of Social Workers (2002). Social Work and the Rights of the Child, Training Manual, Switzerland.

Korczak, Janusz (1992). When I Am Little Again and The Childs Right to Respect University Press of America. Shewell, Hugh (2010). Social Rights are Human Rights: Furthering the Democratic Project, In Jane Pulkingham, Human welfare, rights and social activism, University of Toronto Press: pp. 114-135.

Margalit, Avishai (1996). The Decent Society. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Schneider, Sharon (2013). Transcultural School Social Work, A Case Study of Children’s Rights in Practice, In. Koegeler-Abdi, M., and Parncutt, R. Interculturality, Practice meets Research, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 50-68. 

Staub-Bernasconi, Silvia (2007). Economic and Social Rights: The Neglected Human Rights. In: Reichert, Elisabeth. (Ed.), Challenge in Human Rights, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 138-161.

United Nations (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from

United Nations (2015). The core international human rights Instruments and their monitoring bodies. Retrieved from

United Nations (2015). List of human rights issues. Retrieved from

Warks, Julie (2013). The Human Rights Manifesto, Winchester & Washington: Zero Books.

Wronka, Joseph (2008). Human rights and social justice: Social action and service for the helping and health professions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Mode of delivery (face-to-face, distance learning)

Classroom lectures, self-organised learning and participation in a workshop at the Forum FH "Social Work and Human Rights". An event organised for this course at the FH. 

Opportunities to identify and exchange good practices with local and international human rights experts at the forum.

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