• Class Number 9647
  • Term Code 3070
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 14/09/2020
  • Class End Date 20/11/2020
  • Census Date 02/10/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 22/09/2020
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 with regard to claims about best practice public management reforms and how to pursue 'soft law' rule-making in multi-level systems.

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 Day 1: Monday 21 September, 2020 Day 1 presents the key underlying concepts of the course and more specifically the rhetorical tradition of Aristotle. You will be introduced the to key themes in this course and the particular way it examines argumentation and persuasion. Policy Advocacy takes a particular view of language as constructing the world through Aristotle's 'Art of Rhetoric' and notions of the 'rhetorical situation'. These provide the basic conceptual tools for examining and building upon other perspectives of policy advocacy throughout the course. It is important in this first session to note that policy advocacy or rather persuasion can be used for 'powering' in policy making, but also for 'puzzling' and learning about policy solutions. Secondly, we will examine Aristotle's rhetoric more thoroughly including how you can discern the elements of rhetoric: ethos, pathos and logos in contemporary political-administrative experiences. Thirdly, we consider the practical and normative challenges for administrators in undertaking a policy advocacy perspective within the Westminster tradition, and more broadly in political administrative contexts. During this session we will watch & examine a number of political/administrative examples of rhetoric in action & you will already have the opportunity to see how this framework can be used in real life. Fourthly, we will briefly recognize that the classical study of rhetoric is and can be complemented further by ethical notions of argumentation from theorists of deliberative democracy. Readings: Available on Wattle
2 Day 2: Monday 28 September, 2020 Day 2 uses the conceptual framework and underpinnings of the rhetorical tradition to examine the role and challenges for administrators of drawing upon expertise in policy making. Scientists, economists, doctors and other professions all provide inputs to the policy process and have specific claims regarding policy solutions. First, we examine traditional notions of the policy analyst and the challenges the rhetorical tradition raises about objective expert knowledge. In contrast to ethical notions of rhetoric, we consider the challenging context of policy making with respect to 'powering through' and 'puzzling through'. For example, the challenge for public organizations to have the right capacity to learn, to protect and expand 'reputation' or the need to design contexts that enable dialogue for learning. Both of these highlight the importance of experts being able to address broader lay publics' in order to be persuasive. Second, we will be exposed to the multiplicity of meanings and values associated with many policy problems including problems that require experts to assist in finding solutions. We will examine Hedda Ranson Cooper's research on framing environmental migrants which highlights different ways in which (western) policy advocates have presented environmental migrants and the limits to these frames. Third, In the afternoon session we will discuss Manufacturing Consent and the work and film of Prof. Naomi Oreskes author of Merchants of Doubt. We will also move to the transnational level to consider policy advocacy networks that seek to influence, and even challenge, nation state sovereignty. Readings: Available on Wattle
3 Day 3: Monday 12 October, 2020 Narrative and discourse analysis Day 3 begins to examine how rhetorical perspectives can be applied in (comparative) research. This is for the purpose of preparing you for your major written assignment. First, we will distinguish interpretative process perspectives using argumentative perspectives (including rhetoric, narrative, discourse, framing) from causal process studies, seeking to prove effect outcome. However, much of the lectures on day 3 are concerned with process perspectives, while day 4 will lend more emphasis to effect/outcome perspectives. Second, my first lecture of the day will also provide you some insight into the finer distinctions between narrative and discourse analysis - both of which can be seen as part of the same family of conceptual traditions as rhetoric. Some examples of research using these perspectives will also be given. Third,we will spend time in the afternoon of this day examining and practicing how to do a rhetorical/narrative/discourse analysis from documents and how ways of thinking about over time comparisons. The first assessment in the form of a short (40 min) quiz will be held in the afternoon of day 3. Readings: Available on Wattle
4 Day 4: Monday 19 October, 2020 Policy advocacy as ideas within institutions Day 4 continues our examination of further potential frameworks for comparative research within policy advocacy. In contrast to day 3, this session focuses upon 'variable orientated' research designs and analysis of policy advocacy. First, we will discuss different approaches to comparative research and I will give an overview things to consider for your final research paper. You will be asked to discuss your current plans for your research project in groups and also feed back later in the day, your current plans for research topic, cases and potential frameworks. The discussion of comparison will include an overview of John Stuart Mills descriptions of how to select cases for comparative research. Second, we will examine the literature on historical and sociological institutionalism and how they understand the role of ideas in their analyses. In particular, we will hone in how these approaches tend to understand ideas as variables and examine how the examples of these approaches offer as insight into comparison. Third, different people in class will be asked to present their plans for the final assignment. NB: Don't forget to hand in your draft plan for final assignment on this day! There will be time to discuss your own preparations for the major written assignment throughout this day, and in particular about the justifications for your own selection of cases. Readings: Available on Wattle
5 Day 5: Monday 12 October, 2020 Understanding policy advocacy through cultural frames Day 5 presents a final conceptual framework - Grid Group Cultural Theory (GGCT) - for examining policy advocacy in comparative research. There are both soft and hard versions of this perspective which can speak to more procedural orientated research or variable orientated research.GGCT is a particularly interesting, and contrasting, perspective on policy advocacy(as compared to rhetoric, discourse or narrative) in that it assumes there are only 4-5 possible ways to argue about a policy problem/solution. Furthermore, GGCT has specific prescriptive contributions to make to administrators/policy analysts. Time will be allocated throughout this day to talk about your assignments and the analysis of your documents. First I will provide a brief introduction to cultural theories in general and then GGCT as a specific form of cultural and organizational analysis. Second, I will extend the discussion on GGCT by providing examples from research of applications of GGCT. Third, we will undertake an overview of the second part of the course and learnings for the quiz. Readings: Available on Wattle
6 Day 6: Monday 26 October, 2020 Persuasion and coordination - Is it possible? Day 6 of the course examines the recent emphasis upon persuasion as a mode of governance. Much of the recent literature on governance, as opposed to government, emphasizes the potential for argumentation and ongoing communication between dispersed policy actors to provide a more desirable and effective form of coordination (than top down command and control). It is important to realize that this use for language in governance draws from Aristotle's insights that talk is a practice and can potentially move policy makers and publics in certain directions. Beyond Aristotle, we are now moving in this lecture towards more practical examples of how argumentation can be used to govern in contemporary contexts. Experimentalist governance proposes a procedural governance architecture for stimulating 'puzzling through' and learning about policy problems and solutions. To this extent, persuasion or rather dialogue is just one element among other governance features that can stimulate learning. The session also investigates the challenges for persuasion to be an effective means for policy coordination, not least in the context of the media and public sensation. First, you will be introduced to the rise of interest in persuasion as a form of governance and more specifically to the elements of the experimentalist governance framework. These elements include incorporating civil society and the knowledge of NGO's into the policy making process. Second, we will discuss experimentalist governance cases in the readings and the constraints they identify about it being able to emerge. You will be required to undertake the second quiz for this course in the morning session. It comprises of 4 questions and you will be given an hour to complete it. Readings: Available on Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
In-class quiz (Day 3) 20 % 12/10/2020 19/10/2020 Relates to learning outcomes 1& 2
A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis 20 % 26/10/2020 02/11/2020 Relates to learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4
Research design and group peer review 0 % 16/10/2020 19/10/2020 Relates to learning outcomes 1,2, 3 &4
Final comparative research assignment of public agencies' policy advocacy 60 % 13/11/2020 05/12/2020 Relates to learning 1, 2, 3 &4
Discussion Forum contributions 0 % 20/10/2020 26/10/2020 Relates to learning 1 &2 & 3

* 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: 12/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 19/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1& 2

In-class quiz (Day 3)

In the afternoon of Day 3, there will be a 1 hr in-class/online short quiz. The quiz is composed of 6 questions, with the first five questions requiring brief answers, but which must be accurate and complete. Question six, will require a longer answer, critical reflection and even examples.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 26/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 02/11/2020
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4

A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis

In the afternoon of Day 5 there will be a one hour closed book quiz consisting of 4 questions and requiring text analysis using theories/techniques you have learnt in the course. The document you analyze will be made available online from Wednesday 22 October, so that you can become familiar with the text, though the questions and theories to be applied to that document will only be made available on the afternoon of Day 5. These questions are not designed to trick students or be difficult to answer. If students have read brick material, attended class and participated in discussion throughout the entire course, there should be no further preparation needed.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 16/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 19/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning outcomes 1,2, 3 &4

Research design and group peer review

This task requires you to share your research design of approximately 1-2 pages (max. 500 word) outlining plans for your final comparative assignment (task 4 below) by Friday October 16, 5pm, and then to participate in peer review discussions of one another's research designs in break out groups on the afternoon of Day 4, 19 October. All groups will be provided a rubric for the final assignment and use this to provide constructive comments on your peer's research assignment plans. This session is designed to enable students to be prepared for their final assignments.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 13/11/2020
Return of Assessment: 05/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning 1, 2, 3 &4

Final comparative research assignment of public agencies' policy advocacy

This is a comparative research task requiring you to apply theoretical concepts (or approaches) from the Brick 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 (a leader, profession, administrators, external lobby groups, affected citizens) within and/or external to a public sector agency, as presented in documents (such as annual report, website documentation, official policy proposal, media or speech) regarding efforts to respond to a particular policy initiative, problem or solution, or to promote the legitimacy of the organization. The research paper is to be comparative through either tracing policy advocacy over time, across different public agencies (with different tasks or in different countries), or, between agency actors and external groups/constituencies..

You will apply at least one conceptual framework/or combine frameworks from the readings eg. rhetoric, reputation, narrative, ideas/norms approach, to analyze the advocacy strategies and compare how these evolve over time or their similarities and differences across agency cases.

There are a number of aspects to this task:

You will need to develop a common research question for your cases such as:

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?

OR how has agency X sought to describe its work in annual reports over time, and what changes in their reputational strategies can be observed, and with what consequences?

What patterns are there in the public arguments of agency X before and after regulatory failure, and can this be ascribed to a particular organizational or national culture?

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

You will need to explain how you will apply (operationalise) your conceptual framework to your data (eg. the documents) and why you have selected your cases - this all pertains to the method of your research.

You will need to present your findings from applying the same policy advocacy framework to the different cases under study.

A draft proposal for this assignment will need to be discussed/presented with/to others in the class and delivered on 1 A4 to peer reviewers and course convenor by Friday October 16, 12 midnight, and to be discussed on Monday 19 October in break out groups (see required task 3 above). Opportunities will be provided to discuss this assignment throughout the course.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 20/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 26/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: Relates to learning 1 &2 & 3

Discussion Forum contributions

Throughout the course, there will be discussion forums posted on the wattle site. These discussion forums will pose questions or statements online about the compulsory readings and require you to post your own comments on them, and on one another's comments. Each student is required to contribute "at least two of their own comments to one or more discussion forums". Furthermore, each student must comment "at least twice to discussion forum posts of their peers". This is an opportunity for asynchronous interaction about the course, and for meaningfully discussing with one another about the course readings.

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.

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).
Dr Amanda Smullen
02 6125 8266

Research Interests

Public sector agencies, multi-level governance and federalism, health and mental health, rhetoric, formal and informal institutions

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment
Dr Amanda Smullen
6125 8266

Research Interests

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment

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