• Class Number 8137
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Zoe Robinson
    • Dr Jillian Sheppard
    • Prof Zoe Robinson
  • 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

Australia is one of the world’s oldest liberal democracies.  This longevity is due, in part, to institutional design.  A close examination of Australia’s political institutions reveals both stability and evolution from their original design.  This course explores this stability and change dynamic through an examination of the Australian political system. It provides students with an overview of the cleavages that characterize Australia and the institutions that attempt to manage them.  This course concentrates on formal political institutions paying particular attention to the constitution, institutions of government (e.g. High Court, Parliament, federalism), and electoral competition. We will also compare Australia to other advanced democracies enhancing our understanding of the Australian state.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. critically analyse the structure and dynamics of Australian political institutions;
  2. analyse the contribution of institutions to our understanding of Australian politics;
  3. apply the various analytical frameworks of political science to Australian institutions;
  4. be able to place Australian political institutions in comparative perspective by making reference to other advanced democracies; and
  5. have developed their research, writing, and verbal presentation skills.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • On an ad hoc basis by request, and promptly (no longer than two weeks) following the submission of assessments.
  • All assessment feedback will be delivered via Wattle in the first instance.

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.

Other Information

The information provided is a preliminary Class Outline. A finalised version will be available on Wattle and will be accessible after enrolling in this course. All updates, changes and further information will be uploaded on the course Wattle site and will not be updated on Programs and Courses throughout the semester. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the Course Convenor.


1. Extensions will not be granted retrospectively, except in medical emergencies or on the advice of the Disability Services Centre.

2. Extensions will be granted only for medical conditions, bereavement, other compelling reasons or on the advice of the Disability Services Centre. Extensions on medical grounds require a medical certificate.

3. Extensions will normally not be granted because of conflicts with other study commitments, work commitments, holidays, family gatherings, competing assessment deadlines, sporting commitments or commitments to student organisations.

4. Even when an extension has been granted, assignments will normally not be accepted beyond the date when the assessment on that question/topic has been returned to other students enrolled in the course. If a student is unable to submit assessment by that time, alternative assessment may be set by the course coordinator. 

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 The Australian Constitution
2 Legislature 1: introduction
3 Legislature 2: electing members
4 Legislature 3: how parties dominate
5 Legislature 4: federalism
6 Mid-semester exam on Wattle Mid-semester exam
7 Executive 1: who rules?
8 Executive 2: public service & public goods
9 Executive 3: presidential & parliamentary systems Paper due midday Monday 30/9
10 Judiciary 1
11 Judiciary 2
12 Judiciary 3 & exam review Exam date TBA

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Mid-semester exam (20 per cent) 20 % 27/08/2019 05/09/2019 1, 2, 3
Research paper (40 per cent) 40 % 30/09/2019 30/10/2019 1, 3, 4, 5
Final exam (30 per cent) 30 % 01/01/9999 01/01/9999 1, 2, 3
Workshop participation (10 per cent) 10 % 01/01/9999 01/01/9999 1, 3, 5

* 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: 27/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Mid-semester exam (20 per cent)

A mid-semester exam will be conducted on Wattle on Tuesday 27 August 2019. The exam will comprise multiple choice and short answer questions covering content from the first five weeks of the course. Students will have one hour to complete the review, including reading time. The exam will be open on Wattle between 9am and 12pm. Answers must be submitted within 60 minutes of commencing. The latest a student can commence the exam and receive the full 60 minute exam time allocated is 11am.

Results will be returned to students during the mid-semester break, to give an indication of how well they understand the central concepts and theories of political institutions.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 30/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5

Research paper (40 per cent)

Prepare a 2500-3000 word briefing paper, intended for an audience of policy makers. The topic will be chosen from a list of options, to be made available in week 2.

The paper should present the reader with a range of policy options based on examples from Australia and overseas, before recommending one option (with an explanation). The purpose of the paper is to inform and persuade the reader, while demonstrating a thorough knowledge of the available policy options. For the student, this exercise is intended as an introduction to workplace-related skills such as briefing employers and understanding and explaining policy within a short timeframe.

The paper should be presented as a written report, with subheadings, bullet points and other formatting as required. Essay-style formatting is not required (or expected).

The briefing paper is due at midday (12pm), Monday 30 September 2019. It must be submitted online, via the POLS2114 Wattle page. Papers must be saved in Wattle with the topic number as the subject heading of the submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 01/01/9999
Return of Assessment: 01/01/9999
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Final exam (30 per cent)

The final exam will test students’ knowledge of content from the entire semester – not just from the mid-semester exam on. The exam will give similar weighting to the course content as in the syllabus, e.g. a greater focus on the legislature than the judiciary, and a majority of questions on Australian institutions but some comparative focus.

The final exam will comprise a combination of multiple choice, short answer (e.g. one paragraph) and long answer (e.g. three paragraph) questions. The date of the exam will be advised towards the end of the semester, following confirmation from the Registrar’s Office. The time, data and location of the final exam are not at the course convenor’s discretion. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 01/01/9999
Return of Assessment: 01/01/9999
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 5

Workshop participation (10 per cent)

As is standard, workshop participation in POLS2114 is measured by both attendance and contribution to workshop discussions. However, all POLS2114 students are expected to take an active role in workshops, and participation marks will be difficult to achieve. This course aims to prepare students for post-university life in the workplace, and positive contribution to group discussions is one important part of that process. 

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

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

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. While the use of Turnitin will not be 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: (http://online.anu.edu.au/help_support/turnitin)

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).

Prof Zoe Robinson
6215 5267

Research Interests

Prof Zoe Robinson

Dr Jillian Sheppard
6125 7898

Research Interests

Dr Jillian Sheppard

Prof Zoe Robinson
6215 5267

Research Interests

Prof Zoe Robinson

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions