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SOWK405 Social Work Issues Across the Lifespan

A lifespan perspective on issues encountered in social work practice.

An age-affirmative perspective seeks to counter the dominant “doom and gloom” understanding of later life. More and more New Zealanders are living to advanced ages and all of them strive to age well. That is, to grow old on their own terms. But prevailing myths, prejudices, and stereotypes get in the way. In this course students will encounter older adults who are ageing well - who are active in their communities and who find meaning and pleasure in every day. Students will conduct life-history interviews with these exemplary individuals to develop a broader understanding of the challenges and opportunities of later life. In the process, students will reflect on what they can do to prepare for their old age and to support others in ageing well.

Paper title Social Work Issues Across the Lifespan
Paper code SOWK405
Subject Social Work
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,442.12
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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126 300-level SOWK or SOWX points
SOWK 505, SOWX 405
Limited to
Non-BSW students may be admitted to this paper with approval from the Head of the Social and Community Work Programme.
This paper is designed primarily for social work students and is also open to those from cognate disciplines and backgrounds who seek to understand human development and social work intervention using a lifespan perspective.

Teaching staff

Coordinator and Lecturer: To be confirmed

Paper Structure
Key topics will include:
  • Theories of adult development, particularly the work of Paul Baltes
  • Themes reflected in human development across the lifespan, such as continuity/change and vulnerability/resilience
  • Unique considerations in work with older adults, particularly the dynamics of adult development and ageing
  • The interaction between self and community as it shapes the experiences of older adults
  • Special considerations in work with vulnerable groups
  • Social work intervention informed by a lifespan perspective
Teaching Arrangements
There will be compulsory workshops for this paper; information about these will be provided with the course books. Other teaching arrangements include videoconferencing, Blackboard and other distance technology.
There is no set text. Readings will be available on Blackboard.
Course outline
This will be provided with the course book.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
This paper will focus on older adults, using a lifespan perspective to discuss issues encountered in social work practice, such as the ability to apply knowledge and skills to assess the needs and strengths of older adults and their families and an understanding of the impacts of family, social and cultural contexts on adult development and ageing.

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Not offered in 2023

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