• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Specialist
  • Course subject Policy and Governance
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies

This course aims to provide an introduction to the main principles of social policy in a comparative context as a foundation for further studies in the social policy area. It discusses the parameters of social policy and how social policy intersects with other aspects of government policy, such as labour policy, taxation policy and health policy. It analyses varying models of social welfare provision and social protection as well as fundamental policy issues, such as the merits of targeting versus universality, horizontal versus vertical equity, and rights-based versus discretionary entitlements. The course then considers social protection in the context of key groups of potential beneficiaries, including the unemployed, children and families, retirees, and the indigenous. Emphasis is on a comparative approach, comparing Australian social policy with that of other OECD countries and of other countries in the Asia and Pacific region.

Topics to be covered include:

  •  the boundaries of social policy
  • contrasting models of welfare and the welfare state
  • the intersections between economic and social policy
  • international comparisons
  • social policy priorities in developed and developing countries
  • demographics of ageing and fertility
  • poverty, inequality and adequacy
  • welfare reform
  • labour market assistance and the unemployed
  • children and family policy
  • work and family
  • sole parents and child support
  • age pension and retirement support
  • indigenous social policy
  • health and health insurance
  • the future of social policy

Learning Outcomes

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

On successful completion of this unit you will have:

  • demonstrated a working knowledge of key terms, concepts and ideas in the study of social policy and social protection
  • assessed the major political institutions and actors involved in the social policy process
  • demonstrated a knowledge of how social policy interacts with other areas of government policy, such as economic policy
  • considered the roles of values and alternative approaches in social policy
  • developed a capacity to analyse and assess alternative approaches to social policy interventions
  • reviewed the historical development of the social protection system in Australia and other countries
  • compared the Australian social protection system with those of other OECD nations as well as the approaches taken in developing countries
  • appraised various Welfare State models and their relevance to Australia and other countries
  • considered the social policy issues involved in assistance to categorical groups, such as the aged, families and the unemployed.
  • demonstrated the capacity to think independently in the field of social policy'
  • developed an understanding of the eclectic nature of social policy and the potential contribution of an array of alternative approaches and academic disciplines

Other Information

Delivery Mode:

The course is delivered in an intensive format.  The course comprises three blocks, each of two days.

Full details are available on the Crawford School website on the POGO timetable.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment is through two individual essays. The Initial Essay should not exceed 2,000 words and will comprise 40% of the assessment. The Final Essay should not exceed 4,000 words and will comprise 60% of the assessment. Initial readings for both Essays will be as for the Class Reading list, with self-directed follow-up for further reading.

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.


30 hours of lectures and seminars

Preliminary Reading

The range of subject matter covered in the course does not accord with the content of any particular textbook.  Three useful references that cover some of the course are:

 Bessant J., Watts R., Dalton T. and Smyth P. 2006, Talking Policy. How Social Policy is Made, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest;

 Mendes P. 2008, Australia's Welfare Wars Revisited: The Players, The Politics and the Ideologies, UNSW Press, Sydney; and

 McClelland A. and Smyth P. (Eds). 2006, Social Policy in Australia: Understanding for Action, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.

A Reading Brick will be made available to students in advance of the Course.  Students will also be provided with a Guide to Source Materials (including the Internet) and a comprehensive Bibliography.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9545 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 In Person View

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