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Social work is a dynamic profession that promotes social change, problem-solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Social workers intervene at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work practice.

Social work is practised worldwide in a variety of settings across all sectors of society and in close collaboration with other sectors such as education, development, health, law and business. Social workers also engage in private practice.

In 1968 the School of Social Work became a department in its own right and in 2000 became known as the Department of Social Development, to better reflect the diversity of its educational and training programmes for social service professionals. The department offers social work education and training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and a wide range of social service professions, education and training at postgraduate level.