SFV4400 Social Sustainability, social work and Human Rights Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Sosial bærekraft, sosialt arbeid og menneskerettigheter
Study programme
Master Programme in Applied Social Sciences - Study Option International Social Welfare and Health Policy / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning barnevernsarbeid, deltid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning barnevernsarbeid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning sosialt arbeid, deltid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning sosialt arbeid
Year of study
FALL 2023
Course history


The course provides a deeper insight into how international human rights can become an intrinsic part of the social work profession, social work policy, and social work practice. The course problematizes nation-states' obligations to human rights, and what it entails from the point of view of a minimalist state to a comprehensive welfare state. The nordic welfare states will provide a necessary backdrop as each of these nation-states have committed themselves to abide by and enforce human rights. The course will, in particular, focus on children in risk, migration, and social exclusion/poverty. Empirical challenges facing social work practices will be discussed throughout the course. 

Language of instruction is English.

Required preliminary courses


Learning outcomes

A student who has completed his or her qualification has the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student has extensive knowledge of

  • how the principles of human rights are historically rooted in the development of social work and social welfare and human rights from a legal perspective
  • how human rights shape how decision-making is conducted through social work discretion
  • the issues and ethical dilemmas and trust in social work practices based in human rights
  • the safeguarding of children's rights across public administration, and especially child protection services
  • children rights to protection from harmful care


The student can

  • analyse the duties of the state in relation to those who apply for economic benefits, and the requirements of applicants when seeking assistance
  • analyse children's rights on the basis of the relationship between children, state and family
  • analyse how rights-based practices in social work can be designed, with examples from child protection services and poverty 
  • assess human rights in relation to other normative and constitutional constraints in democratic rule of law
  • discuss implications of how human rights principles are practiced in different countries

General competence

The student can

  • discuss and critically evaluate social work practices and human rights perspectives in social work research and policy development 

Teaching and learning methods

The course is organised into a series of lectures. Students are expected to play an active role. Lectures are given by the course lecturers. Students will be required to present papers, and discuss course themes during lectures.

Course requirements

Compulsory activities must be completed and approved by the given deadline in order for the student to take the exam.

A student shall submit a work requirement of 2-3 pages, calibri 12 pt., paragraph 1.5, written individually. The work requirement will be a case/vignette that will be analysed with the basic concepts of the course, and which will be taught during the first week of lectures. The text must reflect the main topic fields within the curriculum. 

The coursework requirement must be approved. Students who do not receive approval will be given another chance to resubmit their paper once. Students who do not complete or do not receive approval for the coursework requirement will be disqualified from sitting the exam.


The student's learning outcome will be assessed on the basis of a seven-day written home exam on a topic given by the course lecturers. The length of one's answers is 10 pages (+/-10%), calibri 12 pt, 1.5 line spacing, tables and referenes not included. 

The essay will be submitted in English. However, Nordic speaking students can choose to write their work requirement and written home examination in their own language (Danish, Swedish or Norwegian).

Permitted exam materials and equipment

All aids are permitted, as long as the rules for source referencing are complied with.

Grading scale

A grade scale A-F. 


The exam is graded by an internal and an external examiner.

A random selection consisting of at least 25% of the exam papers will be graded by both an internal and external examiner. This will inform the grading of the remaining exam papers.

Course contact person

Asgeir Falch-Eriksen