• Class Number 5569
  • Term Code 3040
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Belinda Townsend
    • Dr Belinda Townsend
    • Prof Susan Sell
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/05/2020
  • Class End Date 10/07/2020
  • Census Date 05/06/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 22/05/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course provides a survey of influential social thought and its applications to the study of governance. It focuses on the use of different ideas, analytical frameworks and paradigms to examine social phenomena related to governance. Students will learn about foundational and contemporary theories as well as how social scientists have applied and refined theoretical concepts through empirical inquiry. In addition, this course aids in developing critical reading and analytical skills necessary for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary engagement. To do so, it requires students to read written texts, engage on-line resources and participate in structured peer-learning activities. Two sections comprise the course. The first part focuses on social thought in a broad sense by critically examining ideas that are considered integral to the development of the social sciences. The second part examines specific advances in social theory and its applications in domains of governance and regulation. This course includes PhD and Masters students in the same class.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Communicate knowledge about a range of ideas that inform historical and contemporary approaches and debates in the social sciences.
  2. Analyse and compare concepts used in a range of social theories.
  3. Apply established concepts from a number of different schools of social thought to understand new ideas in an area of regulation, justice or governance.
  4. Choose and argue a case for the utility and limitations of a particular social theory in relation to a given research problem

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.

Other Information

REGN8002 is graded 0 - 100% for each assessment piece.

REGN9053 is the PhD program and is graded Pass / Fail for each assessment piece.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Session 1: Introduction and Levels of Analysis This session will serve as an introduction to the course and to each other. Today we will discuss requirements, expectations and student interests. We will begin talking about levels of analysis as a way to start thinking about social theories. Analysts need to be explicit and self-conscious about the levels at which they pitch their analysis. Sociological, political and economic study can be conducted at the micro level (e.g., interactions between individuals); meso level (e.g., community or state); or the macro level (large-scale social processes, systems). Imagine competing explanations for World War I. Did individual behaviours cause World War I? Did state-to-state interactions tip the balance? Or did WWI occur because of a network of inter-state alliances and shifting geo-political power? Answers to these questions matter because they will shape policy responses going forward.
2 Session 2: Levels of Analysis cont'd and Ontology and Epistemology Ontology refers to what constitutes the world; what exists that we may acquire knowledge of it? Is the world made up of atoms or structures? What are the units of political or social reality? Do individual preferences and social institutions exist? Epistemology refers to how we may know things about the world. Can we ever find truth with a capital 'T'? Or must we accept more modest claims to knowledge? These questions lie at the heart of analysis and you will need to find your own answers to them. As you will see, there are multiple ways of thinking about these core issues.
3 Session 3: Sovereignty and the State and Proposal Writing One of the most important questions in social science research is how should we conceptualise the state? Sovereignty is not the same as autonomy. In an era of interdependence and partial globalisation the recursive relationships between states and the international environment can promote cooperation and also conflict. The generation of regulatory practices and the effects that they have on the regulated are contested and are central for understanding the politics of contemporary political economy.
4 Session 4: Peer Review class This session will be a peer review workshop session in which students will provide constructive feedback to their peers based on their essay outline/plans for the major essay. There will be no set readings for this date. Instead, students will be assigned a peer and will read their peer's essay outline prior to class.
5 Session 5: Governance and Power The term ‘governance’ has evolved over time. While there are multiple definitions across different sub-fields of political inquiry, all refer to something broader than government. Governance is the setting, application and enforcement of rules (Kaer 2004: 12). The increasing use of the concept of governance can be seen as a reaction to increasing globalization and the rise of networks and non-state actors. As non-state actors become governors this raises questions of legitimacy and accountability. Global governors are defined by Avant et al (2010) as authorities who exercise power across borders for purposes of affecting policy. Governors thus “create issues, set agendas, establish and implement rules or programs, and evaluate and/or adjudicate outcomes.” Who performs the task of governing? Where do global governors come from? Why are they in charge? This session will explore these concepts. ?Questions of power, structure and agency are at the core of much political and sociological analysis and debate. How do we understand power in sociological analysis? Can actors exercise agency to independently make free choices or do structures constrain and shape our choices and opportunities? Do you identify with a particular view of power? How could these views of power and explanations of change inform your research?
6 Session 6: Inequality and Health Equity, Pluralism and Hybridity Inequality, disparity, inequity, fairness, justice. These similar but different concepts have important implications for the design and implementation of regulatory policy. This session discusses core ideas that span a number of disciplinary fields and then reflects on them in the context of applied examples. At the core of this session is the question of regulation and governance for what purpose? Professor Sharon Friel joins us for this session. The existence of multiple systems of law, political systems and social ordering is a common feature of many fields in which regulatory scholars work. This session examines some of the ways to recognise, investigate, describe, analyse, and theorise about such plurality; and some of the common challenges that emerge in doing so. Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth joins us for this session.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
In-class participation and submission of two questions based on the readings for each topic 10 % * * 1, 2, 3
1000 word precis on selected reading and 10-15 minute in-class presentation. 30 % * * 1, 2, 3
Research and writing plan and outline for major essay (1000 words) 20 % 10/06/2020 24/06/2020 2, 3, 4
Major essay (3000 words) 40 % 10/07/2020 * 2, 3, 4

* 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: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

In-class participation and submission of two questions based on the readings for each topic

As you read the required readings, develop two questions that will guide in-class discussion. Submit these via the Assignments tab the day before each class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

1000 word precis on selected reading and 10-15 minute in-class presentation.

This assessment is one 10-15 minute in-class presentation based on one of the readings (under Additional readings for peer presentation). The topic will be delegated at the commencement of the course. A 1000 word precis should accompany your presentation. This should be submitted online in the Assessment tab the day before the class you are presenting (before midnight).

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 10/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 24/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4

Research and writing plan and outline for major essay (1000 words)

Submit a 1000 word essay outline for the major essay (word count does not include references/bibliography).

The outline should explain your plan for the major essay, including what sources you will draw on. The 1000 word essay should be written in paragraphs.

This is due by 11.59pm on 10 June 2020.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 10/07/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4

Major essay (3000 words)

The major essay is due by 11.59pm on 10 July 2020.

PhD students are welcome to write a theory section for their thesis proposal review document, but the essay must directly engage with the theory literature as applied to the topic.

For Masters students the question is:

'Select one issue from the list below and discuss which analytic approaches are most useful for understanding and explaining it and why. Directly engage with the social theory literature and be sure to justify your approach with specific examples to illustrate your points.'

Issues: climate change, financial crisis, security, inequality, crime. Additional topics need to be approved by the instructors.

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

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

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 Belinda Townsend

Research Interests

Dr Belinda Townsend

By Appointment
Dr Belinda Townsend
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Dr Belinda Townsend

By Appointment
Prof Susan Sell
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Prof Susan Sell

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