• Class Number 7582
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Online
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
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:

  1. Contribute to practical small-group exercises in policy advocacy
  2. Discuss and debate the value of core readings in policy advocacy
  3. Demonstrate analytical examination of core concepts in the field of policy advocacy
  4. Demonstrate critical analysis of one or more selected case studies in policy advocacy
  5. 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 Setting the scene: This introductory sessions 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. We will also discuss the structure of course and assessments. Bell, S. & Hindmoor, A. (2010). Persuasion as governance. A state centric relational perspective. Public Administration 88(3): 851-870. Summa, H. (1993). The rhetorics of bureaucracy. In P. Ahonen (ed.) Tracing the semiotic boundaries of politics. New York: Mouten de Gruyter, pp.219-232. Aristotle, The Rhetoric (trans W R Roberts), book 1, chapters 2-4, in Eugene Garver ed, Aristotle, Poetics and Rhetoric. Barnes and Noble Classics 2005, 105-133.Kane, J. (2010). The Artless art: Leadership and the limits of democratic rhetoric. Australian Journal of Political Science 45:3:371-389. Further reading Vernon Jenson, S. (1987). Teaching East Asian Rhetoric. In Rhetoric Society Quarterly 7(2): 135-149.
2 The relevance of rhetoric: This session returns to the key concepts from wk 1 and strives to offer more extensive theoretical elaborations as to the origins of rhetoric. We also consider a number of empiricial examples of the deployment of rhetorical elements across the public sector, and how to apply and evaluate rhetorical concepts in contemporary examples. Herbert Gottweis, ‘Rhetoric in policy making’, ch 17 in Fischer, Miller and Sidney eds, Handbook of Public Policy Analysis, CRC Press 2007, pp237-250. Aristotle, The Rhetoric (trans W R Roberts), book 1, chapters 2-4, in Eugene Garver ed, Aristotle, Poetics and Rhetoric. Barnes and Noble Classics 2005, 105-133. Smullen, A. (2010). Translating agency reform through durable rhetorical styles: comparing official agency talk across consensus and adversarial contexts. Public Administration 88(4): 943-959. Bryan Garsten, ‘Introduction: Persuasion’ and ‘A technical art’, two extracts from Saving Persuasion: a defence of rhetoric and judgment. HarvardUniversity Press 2006, 1-10, 129-135. Further reading John Dryzek, ‘Rhetoric in democracy: a systemic appreciation’, Political Theory, v38, no3, 2010, pp319-339.
3 But I'm not an advocate am I?: In this session we use and locate the rhetorical tradition of argumentation and knowledge alongside different understandings of the role of the public administrator/policy analyst/expert. Different tensions are identified from the multiple sources of knowledge recognized in the rhetorical tradition vis a vis traditional notions of the 'neutral' public servant or objective analyst/scientist, and then more recent literature on public officials creating public value. Rhodes, R. & Wanna, J. (2007). The limits to public value or rescuing responsible government from the platonic guardians, Australian Journal of Public Administration 66(4): 406-421. Alford, J. (2008). The limits to traditional public administration or rescuing public value from misrepresentation. The Australian Journal of Public Administration 67(3):357-366. Grube, D. ‘A very public search for ‘public value’. Rhetorical secretaries in Westminster jurisdictions. Journal of Public Administration, 2012 early view. Van Dorp, E.J. & t’Hart, P. (2019). Navigating the dichotomy: The Top Public Servant’s Craft. Public Administration, forthcoming – full text online.
4 Expertise and framing in an advocacy in policy making: In this session we further interrogate expert and scientific contributions to political/administrative decision making. We elaborate the role of argumentative features in these contributions and the consequences of recognizing their political/social dimensions. We start to consider examples of how argumentation might be deployed for good or bad public outcomes and how to evaluate and introduce prescriptions for limiting destructive argumentative contributions. David L Weimer and Aidan R Vining, ‘Towards professional ethics’, ch 3 in Policy Analysis: concepts and practice. 4th ed. Pearson 2005, 39-53. Ransan-Cooper, H.; Farbotko, C.; McNamara, K. & Thornton, F. (2015). 'Being(s) framed: The means and ends of framing environmental migrants', Global Environmental Change 35:106-115. Ceccarelli, C. (2011). 'Manufactured Scientific Controversy: Science, Rhetoric & Public Debate', Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14(2):195-228. Blue, G.; Hulme, M. (2016). Understanding the rhetoric of climate science debates. Wires Clim Change, e452 Further reading Rimkute, D. (2018). Organizational reputation and risk regulation: The effect of reputational threats on agency scientific output. Public Administration early view.
5 The reputation and audiences of public bodies: This session considers the concept of reputation as recently deployed in studies of public administration/management/regulation. We flesh out some of the similarities and differences with rhetorical/ideational perspectives and consider the reputational challenges of contemporary public bodies. Carpenter, D. & Krause, G.A. (2012). 'Reputation and Public Administration', Public Administration Review 72(1): 26-32. Busuioc, M. & Rimkute, D. (2019). Meeting expectations in the EU regulatory state? Regulatory communications amid conflicting institutional demands, Journal of European Public Policy, full text online. Arras, S. & Braun, C. (2018). Stakeholders wanted! Why and how European Union agencies involve non-state stakeholders, Journal of European Public Policy 25(9):1257-1275. Further reading Schillemans, T. (2016). Fighting or fumbling with the beast? The mediatisation of public sector agencies in Australia and the Netherlands. Policy & Politics 44(1): 79-96.
6 Grid Group Cultural Theory and Cultural Frames: This session introduces you to an alternative set of cultural concepts for examining argumentation and practices in public organizations. Drawn from the work of anthropologist Mary Douglas, GGCT sorts arguments and actions into cultural types. As a tool for examining argumentation, it is useful for identifying blindspots in policy argumentation/action, for explaining change, and for prescribing alternatives to relieve the situation. Mamadouh, V. (1999). ‘Grid Group Cultural Theory: An Introduction’, Geojournal, 47:395-409. Lodge, M. & Weigrich, K. (2011). ‘Arguing about financial regulation: Comparing National discourses’, PS: October. Hood, C. (1998). ‘Calamity, conspiracy & chaos in public management’ (Chapter 2), in The Art of the State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lodge, M. (2011). Risk, Regulation and Crisis: Comparing National Responses in Food Safety regulation, Journal of Public Policy 31(1): 25-50. Further reading Heims, E. (2016). Explaining coordination between national regulators in EU agencies: the role of formal and informal social organization. Public Administration full text online
7 From conceptualizing policy advocacy to frameworks for research - A first take This session is the first of two to address issues of method and research designs for applying rhetorical/argumentative analyses. It sets out different research traditions - from positivist to more interpretative and encourages you to understand the consequences of different research design choices. We also discuss a traditional approach to comparison in this session. Stone, D. (2010). 'Symbols' chap. 6 in Policy Paradox. The Art of Political Decision making. pp.137-162. Jones, M. & McBeth, M. (2010). A narrative policy framework: clear enough to be wrong. Policy Studies Journal 38(2):329-353 Moses, J. & Knutsen, T. (2007). The comparative method (chapter5) In Ways of Knowing. Basingtonstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Hajer, M. (2006). 'Doing discourse analysis: coalitions, practices, meaning'. Chap. 4 in Margo van den Brink & Tamara Metz (eds.), Words matter in policy and planning. Utrecht. (pp. 65-74).
8 Conceptualizing policy advocacy within institutional frameworks and through processes - take two. This is the second session to focus on issues of research method and design, this time further elaborating on institutional and processual perspectives. Schmidt, V. (2002). 'Does Discourse Matter in the Politics of Welfare State Adjustment?', Comparative Political Studies, 35: 168-193. Beland, D. (2009). 'Ideas, Institutions, and policy change', Journal of European Public Policy, 16:5, pp. 701-718. Nimela, M,. & Saarinen, A. (2012). The role of ideas and institutional change in Finnish public sector reform. Policy & Politics 40(2):171-191. Goetz, G. & Mahoney, J. (2012). ‘Causal mechanisms and process tracing’ In A Tale of Two Cultures. Ch. 8.
9 In class peer review and discussion No readings are prescribed for this week, as you should be using the time to refine your research plans, collect data, identify wider references and sources for your final comparative assignment. There will be online material made available about good research designs, peer review and your final assignments.
10 In class peer review and discussion No readings are prescribed for this week, as you should be using the time to refine your research plans, collect data, identify wider references and sources for your final comparative assignment. There will be online material made available about good research designs, peer review and your final assignments.
11 Argumentation strategies and blame avoidance, a reprisal on some earlier concepts. This session offers some reprisal on earlier frameworks presented in the courses such as discourse, rhetoric and ggct. However, it presents that material within literature describing a range of political/administrative strategies for blame avoidance. Policy advocacy is here deployed to evade blame. Hood, C. (2011). Credit claiming, blame avoidance and negativity bias, In The blame game. Spin, bureaucracy, and self-preservation in government. Princeton: Princeton University Press, ch. one, pp.3-23. Hanson, S. (2018). The discursive micro-politics of blame avoidance: unpacking the language of government blame games. Policy Sciences, 51:545-564. Hood, C.; Jennings, W.; Copeland, P. (2016). Blame Avoidance in comparative perspective: Reactivity, staged retreat and efficacy. Public Administration, online view. Further reading Brandstrom, A. & Kuipers, S. (2003). From 'normal accidents' to political crises: Understanding the selective politicisation of policy failures. Government and Opposition
12 Experimentalist Governance - argumentation as soft law for coordination? This session returns to the use of persuasion as a means to effect soft law on wider policy settings. We look at the incorporation of dialogue between policy actors to achieve coordination for better policy outcomes. This is an example of efforts to develop practical frameworks to use dialogue to improve cross jurisdictional interaction and other initiatives to learn. Sabel, C. & Zeitlin, J. (2012). 'Experimentalist governance' In D. Levi-Faur (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Governance (pp.169-183) Oxford, Oxford University Press. Borras, S. & Jacobsson,K. (2004). ‘The open method of coordination and new governance patterns in the EU’, Journal of European Public Policy 11(2): 185-208. Hoflund, A. & Farquar, M. (2008). ‘Challenges of democratic experimentalism: A case study of the national quality forum in healthcare’ Regulation & Governance 2:121-135.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Online quiz 15 % 22/08/2021 05/09/2021 1,2
A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis 15 % 10/09/2021 05/09/2021 1, 2, 4
Research design 10 % 01/10/2021 15/10/2021 1,2, 3,4
Research presentations and group peer review 15 % 15/10/2021 31/10/2021 1, 2, 3, 4
Final comparative assignment 45 % 08/11/2021 02/12/2021 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: 15 %
Due Date: 22/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 05/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Online quiz

From the afternoon of Thursday 19 August (after the online seminar of the course) until Sunday 22 August, 6pm. You will be able to undertake an online quiz for a period of 1 hr. The quiz will draw from the readings and sessions of the first 4 weeks - preparations requires keeping up with all compulsory readings, online materials and seminar activities. The quiz will be composed of 6 questions, with the first five questions requiring brief answers and examples. But your answers must be accurate and complete. Question six, will require a longer answer, some interpretation of information and critical reflection.


Correct descriptionsProvides relevant examplesSophistication of understandingCapacity to critically reflectClear and concise language

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 10/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 05/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4

A longer descriptive quiz and text analysis

In the period from Friday 3 September until Friday 10 September, you will have a take home/online quiz and analysis task. This task will require to use some of the argumentative frameworks you have learnt to date, such as Aristotle's rhetoric, reputation perspectives and Grid Group Cultural Theory, apply these to public documents. You will need to elaborate what key concepts from these frameworks mean and how you operationalise them to distinguish argumentative techniques in the documents. Questions and tasks in this take home quiz 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.


Demonstrates understanding key conceptsExplains how concepts appliedJustification of interpretationCritical reflection on analysis and theoriesUsing theory to comparePresentation and structure

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 01/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 15/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2, 3,4

Research design

This task requires you to submit a research design of approximately 1-2 pages (max. 1000 words) outlining plans for your final comparative assignment (task 5 below) by Friday October 1, 5pm. Following from the sessions in wk 7 and 8, your research design should include a: (1) A research question and an academic justification as to why it is an interesting question to investigate, (2) A framework/frameworks or specific theoretical concepts from the course which you will use to analyse your question (3) Selected agency case/s and an academic justification as to whey they have been selected, (4) documents/websites to analyse the question. You should think about how you will describe the methods you will adopt to apply your concepts.


Academic justification for researchClarity of research questionIdentification and description of theoryJustification case selectionIdentification techniques to apply theoryClarity and presentation

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 15/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 31/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Research presentations and group peer review

In weeks 9 & 10, respectively the weekly in-class (6 & 13 Oct)and online (7 & 14 Oct) seminars will be devoted to peer discussion of research plans. All research proposals (submitted October 1 as per task 3) will be made available on the wattle site and you will be put in groups to present and review one another's research proposals. You will be given a rubric to assess, peer review, and assist one another in planning and refining the completion of the final assignments. This task will be assessed by two triangulated peer review forms that outlines (1) The comments you developed as a peer reviewer along key criteria to assist your peer student, (2) the comments you develop that offers clear suggestions for how to improve the assignment following from the peer review, and (3) the comments given by presenters as to the usefulness and experience of their peer comments. Two forms will be developed for assessing this task and these should be submitted in wattle by 15 October, 5pm.


Peer clarity and relevance to designPeer clarity and relevance to theoryCollegiality and respectPeer problem solving suggestionsReflection of presenter on comments

Assessment Task 5

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 08/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Final comparative assignment

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.

Due date: 8 November, 2021, 5pm.


Quality research question & academic justificationUnderstanding of theoryquality & justification case selectionDemonstration operationalisation conceptsClarity of structurequality of critical analysis

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).
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