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SOWK523 Animals and Social Work

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

Animals and social work.

Paper title Animals and Social Work
Paper code SOWK523
Subject Social Work
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,349.50
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $6,991.50

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SOWK 522 completed in 2015, 2016 or 2017.
Limited to
May not be credited with SOWK 522 completed in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

Suitable for master's level students and professionals working in anyhuman 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

Also covered will be:

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

There will be a compulsory workshop for this paper at the end of the semester; information about this will be provided with the course books. Other teaching arrangements include audioconferencing, Blackboard and other distance technology.


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

Upon successfully completing the paper students will be able to

  • Identify and clearly articulate historical and contemporary trends affecting animals and social work
  • Understand and apply contemporary theoretical explanations for the use of animals within social work
  • Critically appraise 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, critique and improve professional practice in relation to animals and their use within social work practice

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Not offered in 2020

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