• Class Number 8657
  • Term Code 2970
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 11/09/2019
  • Class End Date 28/11/2019
  • Census Date 04/10/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 16/09/2019
SELT Survey Results

Policy Advocacy is a graduate course in policy communication, requiring no specialist knowledge or experience of public policy or administration. The course examines strategies and tactics used by policy advocates inside and outside government when marshalling argument and evidence to promote their preferred outcomes. The course is designed to strengthen students' understanding of the nature of advocacy and of place of policy advocacy in the policy process. The course materials draw on many disciplines: rhetoric, philosophy, policy analysis and public administration. Examples include many Australian, as well as international and transnational cases, but the aim is more general: to stimulate learning about the many ways that policy advocacy is pursued and seeks to shape policy choice, especially in political systems with open forms of deliberative democracy.

Innovations include the regular use of video material illustrating classic advocacy practices used by policy makers, prominent public leaders and interest groups. You will also be taught how to conduct your own analysis of advocacy strategies through examining and comparing policy documents. The Brick of required readings draws from the classics such as Aristotle’s rhetoric but also more recent applications and developments in examining and understanding the significance of the art of persuasion, such as through discourse analysis but also experimentalist governance.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Contribute to practical small-group exercises in policy advocacy

Discuss and debate the value of core readings in policy advocacy

Demonstrate analytical examination of core concepts in the field of policy advocacy

Demonstrate critical analysis of one or more selected case studies in policy advocacy

Reflect on and communicate professional and personal lessons gained in the course

Research-Led Teaching

Aspects of this course touch upon my research into how public agencies and administrators garner legitimacy from their environment, for example to build up their reputation through symbolic claims about their performance and other aspects of their work in the environment. Argumentation and ideas are also prevalent in my research into claims about best practice public management reforms.

Required Resources

All compulsory readings from the brick displayed on wattle.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Monday 16 September, 2019 Setting the scene - Rhetoric as the foundations of a policy advocacy perspective In this first session, you will be given some insight into the conceptual claims underlying the policy advocacy perspective adopted in this course. These are (epistemological) claims about how we understand and have access to 'the world out there' (in particular public administration and public policy problems and situations) through language. While there are many relevant philosophical scholars that have addressed the role of language in 'socially constructing' the world, this course is inspired by, and draws from, Aristotle and his scholarship on rhetoric. Beyond setting out the conceptual claims that underpin a policy advocacy perspective the first day of the course will further introduce you to concepts from Aristotle's 'Art of Rhetoric'. These provides you with 'tools' to examine persuasion in both high level and every-day political-administrative situations. You will be exposed to some real life examples of this during the session and have an opportunity to apply Aristotles' tools' including: (1) 'the rhetorical situation', and (2) ethos, pathos and logos. Finally, the session will also consider the practical and normative challenges that a policy advocacy perspective presents to public administrators, in particular in the Westminster system, but also beyond. Some time will be devoted to describing assessments and the days ahead.
2 Friday 4 October, 2019 Expertise in policymaking from an advocacy perspective In this session we further examine theoretical conceptualizations of how policy advocacy might occur within public administration and policy, as well as some of the tensions associated with this. More specifically the focus of the session is upon the use of expertise in policy making. Scientists, economists, doctors, statisticians and other professions all provide input into the policy process but advocacy perspectives tell us that their knowledge is never entirely neutral. We will examine different perspectives on how the policy professional/advisor/administrator might manage this (advocacy) insight about expert/scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we consider some policy examples of how different sources of knowledge are drawn upon to define policy problems and the consequences of this. These examples include on the 'problem' of environmental migrants, and 'manufactured scientific controversies' about climate change.
3 Friday 11 October, 2019 Narrative and discourse analysis as alternative frames for assessing policy advocacy This session starts to extend your theoretical and critical knowledge of the available frameworks for studying policy advocacy. While to date you have been exposed primarily to rhetorical perspectives, in this session you will learn about more contemporary frameworks for studying policy advocacy in public policy and public administration texts and talk. These build upon the same epistemological foundations that you learnt about in Day one with the focus of Day 3 being upon narrative and discourse analysis frameworks. These frameworks are widely adopted in interpretative studies of public policy and public administration. The readings for this week start to expose you to different research design perspectives for undertaking comparative research of policy advocacy. In particular, the reading by Jones & McBeth recognizes that studying policy advocacy might take a more interpretative approach or alternatively could be for the purpose of identifying advocacy or ideational forces as explaining particular policy outcomes. On this day there will be your first assessment, a 60 minute short quiz. The quiz requires you to answer 6 questions. The questions are based entirely upon the lectures and readings of days 1-3.
4 Monday 14 October, 2019 Policy Advocacy through cultural frames This session presents the framework of Grid Group Cultural Theory (GGCT) to examine policy advocacy. GGCT derives from anthropology and can used to describe and understand the types of argumentation we find in organizations or at the level of a policy field. While GGCT recognizes that policy problems maybe defined or understood differently by actors in a given organization or policy field, it argues there are just four main types of cultural arguments: egalitarian, hierarchical, individualist and fatalist. It has proved a very useful framework for both describing arguments that we find in given policy fields, but also in providing explanations as to why certain arguments are adopted. Moreover, GGCT can be used to undertake a 'cultural audit' of a specific organization, policy problem, or field by identifying the different actors, their perspectives, likely policy solutions and vulnerabilities. Time will be allocated during this day to practice doing a GGCT analysis of a policy text. You will also be put into small groups to discuss your progress with preparing for your final assignment. You will also go into small groups to discuss preparation for your final assignment - some questions and further information about this will be circulated beforehand.
5 Friday 18 October, 2019 Policy advocacy as ideas within institutions This session further deepens your understanding of examining policy advocacy within institutional comparative research traditions. Typically policy advocacy is examined in these approaches as 'ideas' or more 'static' (rather than per se interpretative) 'discourses' of particular actors (entrepreneurs)/or groups of actors that 'cause' a change in policy outcomes. From this perspective studying how ideas matter to particular outcomes requires also examining something of the broader political-administrative institutions within which they emerge. The readings from this session, in particular, Vivian Schmidt's 'Does discourse matter in the politics of welfare state adjustment' is useful, as it offers examples of 'most similar' and 'most different' research designs to examine and demonstrate the role of ideas in explaining outcomes. We will discuss the comparative research method in this class and following from Day 4 devote time for you to develop and discuss your own final assignment in groups.
6 Monday 28 October, 2019 Persuasion and coordination? A wrap up of the course This is the final session of the course. It will introduce some recent grander ambitions for policy advocacy in enabling better governance. Specifically, we will examine the experimentalist governance framework whereby bottom up dialogue and peer review provide resources for better and ongoing problem solving. It is to illustrate how some scholars have seen persuasion as having potential to facilitate the coordination of specific policy systems/problems across organizational or jurisdictional levels. In this session you will also be required to complete your second assessment and longer quiz. This assessment requires analysing a short text using the frameworks of Aristotle (ethos, pathos, logos) and Grid Group Cultural Theory (GGCT). It will also test your understanding of different comparative research design approaches. Finally the session will reflect upon what you've learned in the course and seek to follow up on any queries you may have on your final assignment.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
In-class short quiz (Day 3, Friday 11 October, 2019) 20 % 11/10/2019 25/10/2019 Relates to learning outcomes 1& 2
A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis (Day 6, Monday 28 October) 30 % 28/10/2019 28/11/2019 Relates to learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4
Final comparative research assignment of policy advocacy 50 % 11/11/2019 28/11/2019 Relates to learning outcomes 1,2, 3 &4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 11/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 25/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1& 2

In-class short quiz (Day 3, Friday 11 October, 2019)

This is short 60 minute quiz composed of 6 questions about the reading material and lectures from day 1-3. You will be given 10 minutes to look at the quiz questions and in your readings and lecture notes/power points prior to beginning the quiz (which is then closed book). Questions 1-5 will be briefer, requiring shorter answers, while question 6 will require a more reflective and critical response.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 28/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4

A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis (Day 6, Monday 28 October)

On day 6 there will be a one hour and thirty minute (1, 5 hr). You will be given an initial 15 minutes to read the document for analysis and see the questions, also with the possibility to look into your notes. After the time writing can begin on the quiz and text analysis which will then be closed book. The quiz consists of 4 questions requiring text analysis using Aristotle's ethos, pathos and logos and Grid Group Cultural Theory, and knowledge of comparative research design. These questions are not designed to trick students or be difficult to answer, they draw from readings on Aristotle (Day 1), but also from Day 3-5. Understanding these frameworks and comparative design readings will likely help you with your final assignment.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 11/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1,2, 3 &4

Final comparative research assignment of policy advocacy

This is a comparative research task requiring you to apply theoretical concepts (or approaches) from the readings to practical examples of policy advocacy (real life examples of arts of persuasion!). You need to examine and compare the policy advocacy used by actors (in policy documents, annual reports, speeches or media) to describe a particular policy initiative, problem or solution.

You will apply a theoretical perspective from the readings, for example Aristotle's rhetoric, narrative, or cultural theory, to analyse and compare advocacy strategies in 'your selected documents and cases of advocacy (whether from specific actors or organizations over time or across organizations/countries). You may seek to describe and explain how and why their advocacy strategies are similar or different or even investigate whether their similar or different policy advocacy strategies can explain similar/different outcomes, such as the 'perceived regulatory success' of the organization, how a policy problem is dealt with by similar agencies in different countries, or whether the advocacy brought about a specific policy or organizational change (or not). There is a word limit of 3000 words, exclusive references.

There are a number of aspects to this task:

(a) You will need to select cases of policy advocacy and empirical data that you can use to examine policy advocacy strategies.

For example, you might choose to examine speeches of Chief Scientists across countries on how to respond to climate change, annual reports of specific agencies to examine how they seek to demonstrate their accountability, or speeches of particular political leaders

This task will require you to think about your research design and rationale for the cases you select.

(b) You will need to develop a comparative research question about the policy advocacy (and potentially the actor)

For example,

How have bureaucratic actors in public agencies described the problem of advertising on tobacco packaging in Australia and Canada and how can similarities & differences in their narratives be explained?


What are the argumentation patterns in agency X before and after regulatory failure, and can this be ascribed to a particular organizational or policy culture?

(c) You will need to adopt and describe in your paper the conceptual framework that you will use for examining advocacy strategies.

For example, whether Aristotles' rhetoric, a narrative or discourse perspective or a cultural theory perspective.

(d) You will need to describe how you applied your conceptual framework to your data and present your findings


Demonstrated understanding of theoretical conceptsQuality of research designClarity of structure of research paperCritical analysis and reflectionPresentation and clarityBreadth and accurate use of sources

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

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Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Amanda Smullen
02 6125 8266

Research Interests

Public sector agencies, multi-level governance and federalism, health and mental health

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment
Dr Amanda Smullen
6125 8266

Research Interests

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment

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