Master of Social Work

Programme Structure

In order to graduate, students must successfully complete a programme of study of 30 units. This should comprise four integrative courses, three concentration courses, plus two to three elective courses. The distribution of units over the integrative and specialisation curricula and elective courses are as follow:


Integrative courses 12 units
Concentration courses 9 units
Elective courses 9 units
TOTAL 30 units


Programme Contents


Integrative Courses (4 courses, 12 units)
Integrative courses offer students a critical re-examination of the philosophy and theories of social work and social welfare in global as well as local contexts. These courses aim at broadening students' view of welfare and consolidating their theoretical and philosophical foundation, upon which current practices in a complex and rapidly changing social and political reality are reconsidered, and more advanced theories and practices are developed. Four integrative courses are offered and are required of all students.


SOWK 7010 Social Work in a Changing Social Context (3,3,0)
This course explores the changing social, political and economic context of Hong Kong society and examines their relationship with social welfare and social work. It aims at developing students' ability to reflect on the current philosophical as well as value base for social work practice in Hong Kong with particular insights into the constraints they create for policy and practice.
3 units
SOWK 7030 Critical Management Practice (3,3,0)
This course is designed to appraise the policy and organizational context of human service organizations and management and to explore major theories and perspectives on organizational analysis and management practice. Students will be able to develop creative and appropriate responses to organizational and management situations in relation to different social work settings.
3 units
SOWK 7040 Research and Programme Evaluation(3,3,0)
This course covers the basic concepts, approaches and methods, ethical concerns in qualitative and quantitative research in the field of human services, and evaluates the importance of values and knowledge in suffusing the practice of social research. It stresses the importance of addressing programme and practice evaluation to the rising needs for accountability and outcome demonstration. This course also forms the knowledge base for students to carry out practice-related research project.
3 units
SOWK 7410 Human Diversity and Cultural Differences (3,3,0)
This course helps students to understand and appreciate similarities and diversities of human behaviour from a diversity and anti-oppression perspective, particularly with respect to social and cultural differences, and the challenges and strengths of young people in the local context.
3 units
TOTAL 12 units


Concentration Courses (3 courses, 9 units)

These courses are intended to deepen and strengthen students' knowledge and skills and to enhance students' professional competence.


They are also the cornerstones where students are guided to develop their own concentration. Since 2003, two areas of concentration are offered: Youth Work and Mental Health Practice. These two specialized areas are developed in response to the needs of the professional community and in line with the expertise of the Department. All students are required to choose one of these specialized areas and develop their own concentration according to the concentration preference they opt.


Youth Work Concentration:
SOWK 7170 Youth at the Margins: Theory and Practice (3,3,0)
This course introduces students to various theoretical and practice approaches in understanding and working with young people who are regarded as "marginal" in legal, social and cultural senses. The social construction and social disadvantages of marginality are examined, and students are encouraged to examine practice models for meeting the needs of young people at the margins.
3 units
SOWK 7220 Youth and Cultural Practice (3,3,0)
The cultural dimension of young people's lives is fast changing, and there is a pressing need for social workers to better acknowledge the richness and diversity of youth cultures, and take culture as an arena and as a means for promoting youth's competency, participation and connectedness and for developing alternative intervention modalities.
3 units
SOWK 7240 Critical Youth Work (3,3,0)
By drawing insights from the radical and critical traditions of social work, this course specifically focuses on studying the structural and poststructural perspectives on informing the theorizing and practice of critical youth work with particular reference to oppression and dominations in the social context of Hong Kong.
3 units
TOTAL 9 units


Mental Health Practice Concentration:
SOWK 7110 Mental Health, Mental Disorder and Social Work (3,3,0)
This course critically examines current theories in working with people and their families facing psychiatric disabilities and provides opportunities to build on existing social work experiences in order to develop a more integrated model for practice. Students will be enabled to understand the current development and research in mental health and to examine their implications for social work practice in Hong Kong.
3 units
SOWK 7210 Working with Families with Mental Health Issues (3,3,0)
Mental illnesses, irrespective of their severity, rarely leave family intact but the needs of family members are often overlooked. At times social workers in different service settings do come into contact with these family members. It is therefore necessary to improve both knowledge and skills of helping them. This course covers different perspectives of family coping and dimensions of helping like family therapy, psycho-education for family, empowerment practice and advocacy for families.
3 units
SOWK 7230 Crisis Management and Integrated Mental Health Practice (3,3,0)
Crisis management is one of many important tasks of human service professionals, and it often helps to prevent mental health problems from taking place. This course is designed to enable graduate social work students to (1) deal with crises of their clients and (2) develop integrated mental health interventions with wide range of targets with mental health problems in the Chinese context. Students will examine the major theoretical perspectives and skills in crisis assessment and management and learn to apply an integrative approach to the prevention and treatment of mental health problems.
3 units
TOTAL 9 units


Electives courses (9 units)
SOWK 7120 Child and Adolescent Mental Health (3,3,0)
This course is designed to deepen knowledge and skills required to work with children and adolescents with mental health problems in a variety of settings in Hong Kong, particularly with respect to the areas of behavioural and emotional problems and substance abuse.
3 units
SOWK 7430 Narrative Approach to Youth Counselling (3,3,0)
Prerequisite: SOWK 7420 Theories in Counselling and Therapy or consent of the Department.
This course focuses on introducing to the students the diverse and yet inter-related narrative approaches to working with young people and their families at different settings, as well as the basic philosophy, concepts, and therapeutic conversations.
3 units
SOWK 7440 Narrative Practice with Specific Youth Groups (3,3,0)
This course focuses on introducing to the students the diverse and yet inter-related narrative approaches to working with young people and their families at different settings, as well as the basic philosophy, concepts, and therapeutic conversations.
3 units
SOWK 7500 Family Therapy (3,3,0)
This course approaches to enhancing collaborative work with young people will be covered. In particular, the students will be introduced to strategies and interventions from the approaches of structural family therapy and solution-focused brief therapy as well as their application to specific youth groups with a diversity of developmental issues and needs.
3 units
SOWK 7730 Social Work with Youth (3,3,0)
Prerequisite: Year III Social Work students or consent of the Department
The basic objectives of this course are to review contemporary theories and perspectives for understanding youth with particular reference to the socio-economic and political context of Hong Kong, critically examine the discourses on specific dimensions of youth in Hong Kong, and examine and evaluate selected youth services and approaches to youth work with a review to promoting positive changes.
3 units
SOWK 7840 Data Methodology in Social Sciences Research (3,3,0)
This course covers the basic concepts, approaches and methods in social sciences using linear modeling methods. The course is comprised of seminar and lab sessions. Each class will start with a seminar with the instructor to discuss related concepts and students will be required to participate in discussion. Then, the class will move into the lab session when students are either required to present their own research ideas or practice statistical skills using the software SPSS. Students will have to complete weekly lab assignments. Final paper involves the generation of a publishable manuscript based on students’ research area of interests. In the first part of the course, student will learn how to construct their own conceptual model and specify hypotheses based on existing theories and literatures. In the second part of the course, students will identify a secondary data set related to their conceptual models and learn about data management skills. In the third part, students will learn about the concepts and lab skills of bivariate analysis. The fourth part of the course covers introductory concepts and lab skills of multiple regression. Last, students will have the opportunity to learn about manuscript writing and consult the instructors regarding their paper.
3 units
SOWK7890 Career Facilitation and Counseling (3,3,0)
This course is designed to equip students with knowledge and skills to facilitate individuals to engage in life and career development, and enhance with career counselling competencies in helping relationship building, application of career counselling concepts, assessment in career planning, working with diverse populations, and utilization of technology in career planning, and work-life integration. The course also facilitates students to develop holistic perspective in career development of people at different stages of life and navigate the complex life and work environment.
3 units
SOWK 7151-2 Dissertation (3,0,1)

The dissertation provides opportunity for students to develop and complete a research project of either literature or empirical based relevant to their own specialism.  Students may focus on a specific area such as a selected service target, application of a practice theory, exploration of a topic or issue, management practice or service policy.  The dissertation topic is treated with rigour and depth, appropriate to work at postgraduate level. 

6 units

Staff with Expertise in the 2 concentrations

Mental Health Youth Work
Prof Petrus Y N Ng 吳日嵐教授 Dr. Shum Hei-yan, Michelle 沈希恩博士
Prof Wong Fu-keung, Daniel 黃富強教授 Dr. Ava S M Lau 劉肇薇博士
Dr. Pan Jiayan 潘佳雁博士