General Theory of Social Work
Cod: 41110
Department: DCSG
Scientific area: Social Politics
Total working hours: 156
Total contact time: 15

The Course of General Theory of Social Work aims to situate the emergence of Social Work with particular emphasis on the process of institutionalization of the profession in Portugal and consider the debates around the nature of Social Work.

We place the profession in the socio-historical context of reconceptualization and its scientificization around critical theoretical paradigms and reflective practices, assuming itself as a profession of human rights and social justice.

At the same time we consider the problems present in contemporary times and their modus operandi as well as the issues of ethics and deontology.


Social service
Social problem
Social intervention

It is intended that at the end of this course that the student has acquired the following skills:
• Know the process of emergency and institutionalization of Social Work within the framework of Social Sciences;
• Master the theoretical and methodological foundations, classic and contemporary, of Social Work;
• Know the dimensions and domains of professional practice of Social Work;
• Know how to identify and analyze social phenomena and situations as objects of social intervention;
• Know the ethical and political assumptions that guide the professional practice of Social Work.


In this course the following themes will be worked:
• Genesis and institutionalization of Social Work in the world and in Portugal.
• Nature and legitimation of Social Work: theses in presence and Social Work, object, objectives, principles and values.
• Social work a profession of human rights.
• Matrices and theoretical paradigms in Social Work.
• From traditional methods to intervention method:
o    Emerging themes in social work (critical theories, cultural diversity;
o    Anti-discriminatory and oppressive practices, empowerment)
o    o Ethics applied to social work.


Beckett, C. e Horner, N. (2015). Essential Theory for Social Work Practice. London: Sage
Carvalho, M.I. e  Pinto, Carla (2012).Serviço Social – Teorias e Práticas, Lisboa, Pactor
Deacon, L. e Macdonald, S. (2017). Social Work Theory and Practice. London: Learning Matters
Garcia, Tomás Fernandes e Carmen Alemán Bracho – coord (2006). Introducción al trabajo social, 4ª edição. Madrid: Alianza Editoria
Faleiros, V.P. (2011). O que Serviço Social quer dizer? Serviço Social e sociedade, nº 108, S.P., Out/dez.
Howe, David (1999), Dando sentido a la práctica. Una introducción a la teoria del Trabajo Social, Granada, Ed. Maristán
Healy, L. M.  (2008). Exploring the history of social work as a human rigths profession, International social work, nº 51, p. 735.
Payne, Malcolm (2002). Teoria do Trabalho Social Moderno, Coimbra, Quarteto.
Montano, Carlos (2007). Natureza do Serviço Social, S. P. Cortez editora. 17-92.
Núncio, Maria José (2010). Introdução ao Serviço Social. História, Teoria e Método, ISCSP.
Robertis, C. (2011). Metodologia de intervenção em trabajo social, Porto: Porto Editora.
Weber, P. (2011). Dinâmicas e Práticas do Trabalho Social.  Porto: Porto Editora.

During the classes will be indicated several authors, magazines, articles, specific links to the theme of the Psycho-Social Intervention of compulsory reading.


Continuous assessment is privileged: 2 or 3 digital written documents (e-folios) during the semester (40%) and a presence-based final exam (p-folio) in the end of the semester (60%). In due time, students can alternatively choose to perform one final presence-based exam (100%).