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Fieldwork Education Unit

Practice-based education is an integral part of both the Bachelor in Social Work and Master in Social Work programmes. The Fieldwork Education Unit acts as the interface between the School of Social Work and Social Policy and social work professionals in generating and supporting social work placements. Placements are offered in partnership with agencies providing social work services in Ireland and abroad. We have strong and active links with social work practitioners, managers and employers within every social work sector to facilitate the required range of placement opportunities for our students annually. Most placements are provided within state agencies for example Tusla Child and Family Agency, Probation Service, HSE Mental Health Services, Health-related Social Work (e.g. Hospital and Primary Care), Older Persons’ Services, Disability Services and Local Authorities. We also work in partnership with social workers in the Not-for-Profit and the emerging private sector.  In general all social work sectors are represented in the cohorts of placements, secured each year.

All placements are undertaken in accordance with the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Social Workers (PDF, 239 KB) (for more information, see Social Workers Registration Board, CORU).

Calendar of Placements

The Bachelor in Social Studies (BSS) programme offers students the opportunity to undertake 4 placements over the course of this programme.

  • A residential placement (6 weeks duration) is undertaken at the end of the Junior Freshman year.
  • A community/voluntary sector placement (10 weeks duration to include a pre-placement orientation week) is carried out at the end of their Senior Freshman year and
  • Two professional social work placements, of 14 weeks duration, one in each the Sophister years. These placements take place in Michaelmas term (September to December). As required by CORU, one of these placements is undertaken in a statutory setting.

The Master in Social Work students undertake two professional social work placements of 14 weeks duration , one in each year of the programme. These placements are scheduled from February to May each year. As is required by CORU, one of these placements is undertaken in a statutory setting.

Allocation of Placements

Each student is required to successfully complete two professional fieldwork placements of at least 500 hours each, in order to fulfil the requirements of CORU and the Programmes. The Fieldwork Education team in conjunction with the course team and in consultation with the student, take responsibility for identifying, co-ordinating and allocating placements to individual students. The primary criterion used for the allocation of available placements is the student’s learning needs. Students are assigned to work with CORU accredited social work practitioners, who in their role as Practice Teachers and in consultation with students and tutors, determine the parameters of learning opportunities within their agency. Fieldwork placements provide students with diverse learning opportunities across a range of placements.

The Placement Process

Placements are based on a learning philosophy in which the student is an active participant in the learning process, reflecting on and learning from practice experience. On placement, students are required to integrate social work theory and research findings in their practice and to demonstrate a commitment to professional values and ethics. The learning outcomes of each placement are informed by the CORU domains of proficiency for social work (see Standards of Proficiency and Practice Placement Criteria (PDF, 415 KB), CORU). Students, practice teachers and tutors work together to produce and review a Learning Agreement for each placement, which sets out the learning goals and opportunities and the processes of evaluation of student’s placement performance.

Becoming a Practice Teacher

Practice teaching is an integral part of professional social work education. If you are interested in becoming a practice teacher please contact the Fieldwork Education Unit (fieldwork.unit@tcd.ie) to check details of the next Practice Teaching Workshop. If you are an existing Practice Teacher and would like to provide a placement for a BSS or MSW student please complete the Practice Teacher Register form (PDF, 182 KB) and return to fieldwork.unit@tcd.ie. For a schedule of upcoming placements please see our Calendar (PDF, 190 KB) of forthcoming placements.

Supporting Practice Teaching

Ongoing support is provided to Practice Teachers by college tutors and in a range of other ways, including Introduction to Practice Teaching Workshops (in collaboration with UCD, twice annually), Placement Induction Seminars, Practice Teacher Peer Support & Development Groups, Conferences, and Seminars presented by visiting lecturers on a range of social work topics. Current practice teachers can also avail of a reduced fee for our Continuing Professional Development evening course, which takes place every autumn.

Contact Us

For further information please contact:

Ms Emma McConkey, Executive Officer
School of Social Work and Social Policy
Tel: +353-1-896 4579 
Email: fieldwork.unit@tcd.ie

Dr Erna O’Connor / Mr Paddy O'Dea
Assistant Professors and Fieldwork Co-coordinators
School of Social Work and Social Policy
Phone: +353-1-896 2627 / 2991
Email erna.oconnor@tcd.ie / paodea@tcd.ie