Credit points: 15

Subject outline

This subject focuses on contemporary Australian public policy-making as both political and communicative practice.  It examines the institutional, ideological, discursive and political contexts in which policy decisions are made in pluralistic societies like Australia, and the consequences of those decisions for the distribution of power and resources.We begin with an introduction to Australian political institutions, including the role of parliament, the executive, bureaucracy, media and other non-state actors. We then introduce students to diverse theoretical perspectives on public policy-making, along with the specific historical and structural factors that have shaped government decision-making in Australia. We conclude with an analysis of key policy case studies. This subject is suitable for all Master's students who want to work in or understand Australia's political and policy-making environment.

SchoolSchool of Humanities & Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorMichael O'Keefe

Available to Study Abroad StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Exchange StudentsYes

Subject particulars

Subject rules



Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Demonstrate an understanding of key Australian political institutions, interests and public policy processes.

Students are introduced to key Australian political institutions, interests and public policy processes in seminars, online material and weekly readings. They are given the opportunity to critically engage with these concerns in both assessment pieces.

02. Demonstrate an understanding of key theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of public policy.

Students are introduced to key theoretical and analytical approaches through seminars and readings. They are asked to demonstrate their understanding in assessments one and two.

03. Demonstrate an understanding of public policy as a communicative practice in which decision making is influenced by communication, deliberation, negotiation and compromise between competing interests, values and identities.

Apart from key readings on these issues in seminars, students are presented with a number of case studies in which they are asked to identify the various interests, norms, values and concerns that have to be communicated and negotiated by policymakers; likewise the processes and systems through which an issue of concern becomes a tangible policy outcome. These case studies will be studies and debated in seminars, with an eye to developing students' understanding of policy-making as a communicative practice. Both assessment pieces require students to engage with these concepts.

04. Demonstrate understanding of the key interests, ideas and issues at stake in specific Australian public policy processes and outcomes.

Key readings, seminar discussions. The major research essay requires students to engage with an Australian policy area of their choice, with an eye to understanding the key interests, ideas and values at stake.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne, 2020, Semester 2, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Enrolment information

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorMichael O'Keefe

Class requirements

Seminar Week: 31 - 36
One 3.0 hours seminar per study period on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 36 and delivered via face-to-face.

Unscheduled Online Class Week: 31 - 36
One 2.0 hours unscheduled online class per study period on any day including weekend during the day from week 31 to week 36 and delivered via face-to-face.


Assessment elementComments% ILO*
2000 word essayOn Australian public policy: institutional, ideological and theoretical contexts40 01, 02, 03
3000 word research report On an Australian Policy case study60 01, 02, 03, 04