• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Policy and Governance
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Sara Bice
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2020
    See Future Offerings

In 2020 the in-class dates are Aug 14, 21; Sep 21, 25; Oct 23, 30. All activities that form part of this course will be delivered remotely.

This course explores the dynamic context of public policy in which there are complexities, crises, uncertainties, risks, conflicts, borders, uncertainties and communicative challenges. Environmental controversies, inequality within and between nations, and changing population dynamics typify these challenges. Students explore how policy processes in such contexts are far from regularized or systematic. When familiar economic, political, administrative and communicative processes are under extreme pressure or break down entirely, policy-makers are often dealing with what are referred to as ‘wicked problems’, for which there are no clear policy solutions, and few examples of successful policy on which to draw. In this course, students consider what happens under such dynamic circumstances, and explore the responses of governments, policy actors, and policy systems. The course employs the case method of teaching, and students consider different approaches for planning and steering public policy under conditions of extreme complexity, uncertainty and risk.

This course gives students a unique and exciting experience where the various perspectives that derive from professional experience, cultural and national diversity and disciplinary backgrounds are brought to bear on critical challenges confronting policy-makers. Crawford students either already do, or soon will, play an important part in informing, crafting, influencing, and implementing policy. In this course we provide an opportunity for students to develop and enhance the skills required to fulfil these roles.

Learning Outcomes

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

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of key public policy challenges in contexts of complexity, risk and crisis.
2. Demonstrate understanding of the ways in which complexity, risk and crisis impact on ‘usual’ policy processes.
3. Reflect critically on key theoretical debates in the relation to public policy in contexts of complexity, risk and crisis, and demonstrate understanding of their practical application in different cultural, social and political environments.
4. Apply theory to real world challenges and provide compelling policy advice
5. Communicate persuasively in public policy contexts, in a variety of modes

Indicative Assessment

3 x Case Papers, 1500 words each.

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


This is an intensive course involving 6 days (9am-4pm) spread over an 8 week period. 

Preliminary Reading

* Beck, U. (2009). World at Risk. Translated by C. Cronin. Cambridge: Policy Press (selected chapter/s)

* Levin, K., Cashore, B. Bernstein, S., Auld, G. (2012), ‘Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems: constraining our future selves to ameliorate global climate change’, Policy Sciences, 45(2), 123-152

* Lewis, Hannh et al. (2014) Hyper-precarious lives: Migrants, work and forced labour in the Global North, Progress in Human Geography, 1-21.

* Moss, D. (2004). When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager. Cambridge University Press (selected chapters)

* Ostby, G. (2008) ‘Inequalities, the Political Environment and Civil Conflict: Evidence from 55 Developing Countries’, in Frances Stewart (ed.),

Horizontal Inequalities and Conflict: Understanding Group Violence in Multiethnic Societies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

* Special issues of Review of Policy Research, 2009 26(4): The New World of Crises and Crisis Management: Implications for Policymaking and Research

* Stewart, F and Langer, A. (2008) ‘Horizontal Inequalities: Explaining Persistence and Change’ in Frances Stewart (ed.), Horizontal Inequalities and Conflict: Understanding Group Violence in Multiethnic Societies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

* Stiglitz, J. and Heymann, D. (eds) (2014) Life after Debt: The origins and resolutions of the debt crisis, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6673 07 Aug 2020 29 Aug 2020 04 Sep 2020 30 Nov 2020 In Person View

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