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SOWK423 Animals and Social Work

Critical exploration of the use of animals in social work and the helping professions within ethical, practice, policy and research frameworks.

Animals and social work.

Paper title Animals and Social Work
Paper code SOWK423
Subject Social Work
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2022 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,403.61
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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SOWK 523
Limited to
BSW, MSCW (Applied)
May not be credited with SOWK522 completed in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

Suitable for students, and professionals working in any human service setting, who have an interest in how animals are perceived in the helping profession in general and social work in particular.


Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator and lecturer: Dr Peter Walker

Paper Structure

This paper will cover four modules:

  • An introduction to the relevance to and use of animals within the social work profession both in Aotearoa/New Zealand and overseas
  • Violence towards animals as a precursor and indicator of violence towards humans
  • The inclusion of domestic animals in social work assessments and their role within the ecological model
  • Animal-assisted interventions and their efficacy in the helping professions

Each module will also cover:

  • Discussion on animal ethics, animals within legislation and challenges the use of animals pose for the social work profession
Teaching Arrangements

This course will be taught through a one-day compulsory workshop at the start of the course, six 2 hour lectures fortnightly, and a two-hour compulsory workshop at the end of the course.

Online Zoom meetings will also be held during this course.


Ryan, T. (2011) Animals and Social Work: A Moral Introduction. Palgrave MacMillan

In addition, a course book and readings are provided via Blackboard.

Course outline

The course outline is made available in the course book provided to students prior to the beginning of the semester.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students completing the 400-level paper will:

  • Identify and clearly articulate historical and contemporary trends affecting animals’ place within social work
  • Understand and apply contemporary theoretical explanations for the use of animals’ within social work
  • Evaluate practice frameworks in relation to violence towards animals, the inclusion of animals in social work assessments and the use of animal assisted interventions in the helping professions
  • Reflect upon the use of animals within social work practice

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Not offered in 2022

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system