Master of Social Work

Learning knowledge practice

This web site is designed to provide students, field education supervisors, organisation and liaison staff with easy access to information, policies, procedures and materials used in the Deakin University's Social Work field education program.

Importance of field education 

The term 'field education' is used to describe the learning that occurs during placement, while students are located in either a practice organisation or related human service organisational setting. For students, the field education units of the Master of Social Work are often the most challenging yet rewarding and memorable components of the course. On placement, students develop a clear understanding of what knowledge, skills and values are required to work effectively in contemporary practice settings.

During the Master of Social Work students undertake two supervised and assessed placements in two different types of human service organisations. Placements are designed to provide students with opportunities to apply practice theory, policy and research knowledge and skills in the workplace. As such, the field education units offer experiential learning opportunities, where students connect theory learned in the classroom with authentic case, family or group work, community development, policy analysis or research in the field.

How long are placements and when do they occur? 

Students are required to complete no less than 140 full days (or 1000 hours) on placement during their postgraduate social work degree. This is made up of two seventy-day placements. The first placement unit occurs during Trimester 2 in the first year of full-time study. The second placement unit occurs during Trimester 2 of the second year of full-time study.


All students are required to have a current Working With Children (WWCC) and National Police Check prior to undertaking each placement. 

Requirements for field placements are governed by both the University and Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) policies and guidelines and more specific information is available in the Field Education Manual, available from the Social Work related documents links below.

  • One of the two placements must be direct service delivery.
  • Students must attend a pre-placement workshop prior to the first field placement.
  • Students must have an interview with organisation staff prior to placement being approved.
  • Students are supervised by a social worker eligible for AASW membership for a minimum of 1.5 hours for every five placement days.
  • Students receive liaison visits from University staff during the placement.
  • Field placements must be approved by the University prior to students commencing.

How are placements allocated? 

Placement matching is done by University staff and guarantees cannot be given in relation to fields of practice or location. Students are given an opportunity to provide information regarding human service organisations with which they might have had some contact; however, the University reserves the right to make final decisions regarding placement allocation.

Related documents

Proposal for Placement in the Workplace (DOC, 79KB)

Recognition of Prior Learning (DOC, 24KB)

Field Education Manual

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