SWSP6143 Public Policy & Civil Society

Level: Master
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: None
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit looks at the Australian political processes and institutions and the way Governments, through ideology and public including social policy, influence the formation of a certain type of citizenry and a civil society nationally and internationally. The role of social worker in the human services sector is explored in this context.

Unit Workload

The unit includes 12 sessions of 3 hours of class time on campus. This time will be used for interactions with students to facilitate discussion of unit materials and assessments, presentations and group activities. Course material will be available in the online class space. In addition to the 36 hours of class time, students are expected to engage in 6 hours of private study per week.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the political process and ideologies that underpin the political process in Australia.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the structures, processes and relationships that lie “behind” the public face of government in Australia.
  3. Describe the complex set of relationships and a range of players and their competing interests in the socio-political, cultural and economic discourses of the times.
  4. Articulate what a civil society looks like and how stable this definition is.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of such concepts as; civil society, public good, power, elites, wealth, inequality, discourse, justice and democracy are explain how they are produced and to what effect.
  6. Describe how the interconnectedness and interdependence with global societies, politics and cultures are producing a ‘global world’ and a ‘global citizen’.

Learning and Teaching Approach

  1. Learning is an active process – which involves both questioning and challenging.
  2. Learning is a shared process – where others’ thoughts and ideas are presented, critically analysed, exchanged and respected.
  3. Learning is a collaborative and empowering process for self and others.
  4. Learning is thoughtful and reflective.
  5. Learning requires integration with prior knowledge and other arenas of knowledge development in the program.
  6. Preparation for lectures and seminars and reading the recommended texts and references is essential.

The content of this unit has been designed to maximise both online and face-to-face learning to integrate the subject matter.

Students are expected to:

  • Complete all activities
  • Complete readings
  • Complete all assessments
  • Attend all classes

It is also recommended that students:

  • Keep a record of new terminology that is introduced in this unit
  • Keep a copy of assessments and other correspondence
  • Make notes on unit content and readings

There will be learning activities linked to all lecture materials which are designed to encourage students to deliberate and reflect and to provide opportunities for further learning. The activities are designed to help students think through and practise the specific skills and general concepts presented in this unit as well as provide valuable learning opportunities.


Recommended Texts

  • Fenna, A., Robbins, J., & Summers, J. (2013). Government and politics in Australia (10th ed.). Sydney, Australia: Pearson Education.
  • Maddison, S., & Dennis, R. (2013). An introduction to Australian public policy: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press. 
  • McClelland, A., Smyth, P. (2014). Social Policy in Australia: Understanding for Action. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • To be provided by your educator.


  • Australian Social Work
  • ADVANCES: Journal of Social Work and Welfare Education
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Critical Social Work
  • Journal of Social Work Education (USA)
  • Journal of Social Work (UK)

Academic Misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to http://currentstudents.acap.edu.au/assets/Managing-My-Course/A-Z-Policies/Academic-Misconduct-Policy.pdf for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the trimester. For a list of required textbooks for the upcoming trimester, please click here.