• Class Number 9722
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
    • AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course provides students with important skills for interpreting and using policy research. Students will be introduced to the process and methods of empirical policy research. The course begins with an introduction to the research process and its basis in the philosophy of science, before moving on to discuss aspects of concept formation and operationalization. Students will explore the craft of formulating research questions and generating hypotheses, discuss aspects of causal inference and consider various research methods including qualitative, quantitative, experimental, observational and mixed methods approaches. Through practical cases, students will reflect on the role of research in the policy process, the ethics of policy research, and how to navigate the interface between research and practice to get effective policy outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. - define and explain a variety of approaches to research in social sciences (L1);
  2. - demonstrate a basic knowledge of commonly used methodological tools in empirical research, including surveys, interviews, content analysis, case selection and comparison, and basic statistical methods (L2);
  3. - appraise strengths and weaknesses of existing methodological approaches, including: assess conditions under which one can properly apply tools of measurement and systematic ways to make inferences and interpret data (L3); and
  4. - formulate research questions, develop arguments and choose proper research design in its support (L4).

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 Lecture - Week 1: Introduction (July 23) Topics: Course overview (outline, requirements); why policy research matters
2 Lecture - Week 2: Worldviews – Positivism and Interpretivism (July 30) Topics: Positivist and interpretivist approaches to research
3 Lecture - Week 3: Shared Concerns –Questions and Concepts (August 6) Topics: What is a research question and what makes a good one?; what are concepts and why do they matter?
4 Lecture - Week 4: Theory, Hypotheses, and Measurement (August 13) Topics: Inductive vs. deductive research, theory and hypothesis, measurement reliability and validity
5 Lecture - Week 5: Causal Inference (August 20) Topics: Fundamentals of causal inference; how do different research strategies deal with threats to causal attribution?
6 Lecture - Week 6: Interpretivist Approaches (August 27) Topics: Data collection and analysis in the interpretivist tradition
7 Lecture - Week 7: Qualitative Approaches to Causal Inference (September 17) Topics: Comparative case method; other approaches to causal inference using qualitative data
8 Lecture - Week 8: Positivism –Data Collection - Statistical (September 24) Topics: Types of statistical data; sampling; the promise and pitfall of survey data
9 Lecture - Week 9: Positivism –Data Analysis - Statistical (October 1) Topics: Advantages and disadvantages of statistical methods; statistical strategies for causal inference
10 Lecture - Week 10: Experimental data & analysis (October 8) Topics: Why are experiments considered the "gold standard" for demonstrating causality?; internal vs. external validity
11 Lecture - Week 11: The Ethics of Policy Research (October 15) Topics: What are the ethical principles involved when conducting research?; what protocols exit to manage ethical concerns?
12 Lecture - Week 12: Review: The Research Frontier (October 22) Topics: The methodological frontier; recapping lessons from the course

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Written Exercise # 1 30 % 06/09/2019 28/11/2019 L1, L2
Written Exercise # 2 30 % 25/10/2019 28/11/2019 L1, L2, L4
Final Exam 40 % 31/10/2019 28/11/2019 L1, L2, L3, L4

* 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: 30 %
Due Date: 06/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2

Written Exercise # 1

In this exercise we ask you to select one article from two different groups of articles provided for the exercise. You will then be asked to assess the article you have selected in terms of research design, using concepts learned in class.

Length: approx. 1,500 words

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 25/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L4

Written Exercise # 2

In this exercise we ask you to go a step further and design research for yourself, including defining a research question.

The second assignment requires you to design two studies to answer a public policy question that is amenable to research, with the research design chosen from those introduced in the class. You will need to ask yourself questions like:

  • How can I define a policy question that is amenable to research?
  • How should I define the outcome of interest?
  • What research designs might offer useful information about the outcome of interest
  • What might be the ethical and political implications of my research, if any?

Length: approx. 1,500 words

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 31/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L3, L4

Final Exam

You will be asked to take a 2-hour final exam (externally invigilated)

  • The exam is a mix of definitions, short one- paragraph answers, and longer questions.
  • The exam is designed to test how well… you… have understood the key terms and themes considered during the semester.
  • The exam will include at least one question on the ethical implications of research.

Deadline: Exam Period (The date will be confirmed by the ANU examination office.)

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. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

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.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

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).
AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
02 6125 3861

Research Interests

AsPr Llewelyn Hughes

AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
6125 3861

Research Interests

AsPr Llewelyn Hughes

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