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

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

Course unit titleSocial Justice
Course unit code04854154
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
Angelique TERLER

Prerequisites and co-requisites

Requirement for incoming students: basic knowledge in working with people in social work and related disciplines.

Course content
  • Social justice from a philosophical, economic and social perspective
  • Key policy instruments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in the context of social justice
  • Critical examination of social justice and solidarity in a globalised world
  • Interdisciplinary cooperation to develop effective arguments around social justice issues
  • Key questions and debates on solidarity and the role of social work in advocating for climate justice 
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration to develop effective arguments concerning social justice
Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • differentiate between the philosophical, economical and social perspectives of social justice
  • critically examine how value systems can affect social justice in social work
  • identify strategies to promote the rights of individuals, social groups and communities
  • recognise and explain the causes and effects of social injustice
  • Compare and contrast legislation and social policy in the promotion of social justice
Planned learning activities and teaching methods
  • Small group discussions
  • experiential exercises
  • debate
  • self-organised learning
  • excursion
Assessment methods and criteria

Group of 3-4 or work independently: photo essay, term paper: put together a photo essay to raise awareness for social justice. The objective is to present a set of photographs related to social justice. It’s about raising the visibility of social problems faced by people in different walks of life (further detail in the course).


Excursion to the town of Ravensburg, Southern Germany. Social justice walk: "Conceptualising Social Justice in Ravensburg". Prof. Dr. Hans Walz & MSW Sharon du Plessis-Schneider. 


  • social and economic changes in towns and the impact on daily life
  • principle of parity between Catholics and Protestants in Ravensburg
  • National Socialist (Nazi) tyranny in Ravensburg from 1933 and 1945
  • The Schwaben Child labourers from alpine Austria
  • Contemporary social work and social justice: Food bank, Café Miteinander and UNICEF 
Recommended or required reading

Alinsky, Saul (1971). Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals, New York: Random House.

Barry, Brian (2005). Why Social Justice Matters, Polity, Cambridge.

Brooks, Thomas (2016). Rawls and law, New York: Routledge

Dominelli, Lena (2012). Green Social Work, Sage. Ferguson, Iain (2007). Reclaiming Social Work, Challenging Neo-liberalism and Promoting Social Justice, Sage.

Dover, Michael A. (2019). A Needs-based Partial Theory of Human Injustice: Oppression, Dehumanization, Exploitation, and Systematic Inequality in Opportunities to Address Human Needs, Humanity & Society 2019, Vol. 43(4), pp.  442-483.

Ferguson, Iain (2007). Reclaiming Social Work, Challenging Neo-liberalism and Promoting Social Justice, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gil, David (2013). Confronting social injustice: Concepts and strategies for social workers, USA: Columbia University.

Gil, David (2004). Perspectives on Social Justice. Reflections, 10 (4), pp. 1-15.

IFSW/IASSW (2014). Global Definition of Social Work, work/global-definition-of-social-work/ (consulted on 18.1.2019)

Lundy, Colleen (2011). Social Work, Social Justice, and Human Rights: A Structural Approach to Practice, Second Edition, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

O’Brien, Mike (2010). “Social justice: Alive and well (partly) in social work practice?” International Social Work, 54(2), 174-190.

Rawls, John (1971). A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Staub-Bernasconi, Silvia (2007). Economic and Social Rights: The Neglected Human Rights, In: Reichert, Elisabeth (ed.): Challenges in Human Rights. A Social Work Perspective, Columbia University Press, pp. 138-161.

Winslade, John (2018). Counseling and social justice: What are we working for? In Audet, Cristelle and Paré, David (Eds.) Counseling and Social Justice, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 16-28.

Wronka, Joseph (2016). Human Rights and Social Justice, Social Action and Service for the Helping and Health Professions. United States of America: Sage Publications.

Zarvirsek, Darja, Rommelspacher, Birgit, and Staub-Bernasconi, Silvia (Eds.). (2010). Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work: International Perspective. University of Ljubljana.


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

Classroom lectures and self-organised learning.

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