• Class Number 6546
  • Term Code 3170
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 3 units
  • Topic On Campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Azad Singh Bali
    • Dr Azad Singh Bali
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 01/11/2021
  • Class End Date 16/12/2021
  • Census Date 19/11/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 08/11/2021
SELT Survey Results

Can governments address ‘wicked’ or complex challenges such as climate change or control healthcare costs? Can governments in developing countries price and distribute clean drinking water? Can governments enforce contracts? These questions canvass a key issue in contemporary public policy and administration: the capacity of governments to carry out routine policy tasks. This course provides students with a rigorous understanding of theoretical and policy debates around different dimensions of capacity.

The course is structured along three questions. First, what are the different components of policy capacity? Second, what types of capacities or capabilities are needed to address contemporary policy tasks such as contracting, commissioning, regulating insurance markets, etc? Third, can any deficits in capacity or capabilities to achieve these tasks be identified before a policy or program is rolled out? How can these deficits be remedied? Students are introduced to frameworks to respond to, and interrogate these questions, using real-world policy examples.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. understand key theoretical concepts in policy capacity literature
  2. understand different dimensions of capacity, and how they manifest in governments
  3. connect policy capacity of governments with specific policy goals and tasks
  4. apply frameworks to measure capacity to specific programs or policies
  5. identify deficits in capacities and how they can be addressed.

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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 What is Policy Capacity This introductory session lays out the overarching aims and objectives of this course, walks you through the assessment tasks as well as introduces the concept of policy capacity. The Policy Capacity Artefact is due. Key readings include: Bali and Ramesh (2018), Wu et al (2015) and Tiernan (2015)
2 Capacity for What ? This session introduces students to the contemporary challenges or issues governments and government agencies have to navigate in delivering public services. The overarching message in this session is that high policy capacity is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. The session asks students to think about the "capacity for what" question? I.e. why do we need specific capabilities? to what end? Key readings include Bali and Ramesh (2018) and Wu et al (2015)
3 Student Group Work 1 Students in Groups of 4 will work on their Capacity Assessment Exercise for up to 60m.
4 Frameworks to Study Capacity This session introduces participants to key frameworks to study and analyse policy capacity. We will pay particular attention to the framework by Wu et al, but supplement that with recent theoretical and empirical research. Key readings for this include Howlett and Ramesh (2016), Compton and 't Hart (2019 -- chapter 1), and Moore (1995).
5 Empirical Cases -- Health Policy in India We are now ready to dive into empirical cases to study policy capacity using real world examples. We begin with health reform in India -- a new an ambitious program to achieve universal health coverage. We will ask a simple question -- does India have the necessary capacity to implement its ambitious health reform? Key Reading for this week is Bali and Ramesh (2021).
6 Student Group Work 2 Students in Groups of 4 will work on their Capacity Assessment Exercise for up to 60m.
7 Empirical Cases -- Police Reform in Afghanistan Our second deep dive is into the world of police reform in Afghanistan. We examine a case study of efforts to rebuild the police force in the early 2000s. We will use to the capacity framework as a diagnostic tool to understand weaknesses in specific capacities.
8 Empirical Cases -- Vaccination Roll out in Australia Our third empirical deep dive is in the world of public health and public service delivery. We will look at Australia's vaccination roll out through a policy capacity lens. Our goal is to study what hurdles in its implementation can be traced back to issues around policy capacity? What types of capacities have helped other countries be more effective in their vaccination roll out?
9 Student Group Work 3 Students in Groups of 4 will work on their Capacity Assessment Exercise for up to 60m.
10 Addressing Capacity Deficits This capstone workshop distills best practices in addressing weaknesses in policy capacity. Key readings for this session include Hartley et al; Dickinson and Sullivan, and van der Wal.
11 Student Presentations Students will present their capacity mapping exercise. The session concludes the course and summarises key lessons

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Policy Capacity Artefact 20 % 08/11/2021 12/11/2021 1,2
Capacity Mapping Exercise 30 % 16/11/2021 20/11/2021 3,4
Policy Capacity Essay 40 % 01/12/2021 09/12/2021 1-5
Participation 10 % * 09/12/2021 1-5

* 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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.


Please see notes for Assessment Task 4. We meet in 2 X90m and 1 X 60m session across four days.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 08/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 12/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Policy Capacity Artefact

Bring an artefact/image to the first workshop, and use it to explain what you understand by policy capacity. There are three components to this exercise. 1) Bring an Artefact; 2) Submit a 200- word note on how the artefact explains/conveys your understanding of capacity; 3) Discuss this during the first workshop. More information is posted on Wattle. Please note that this assessment task is due on the first day of the course.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 16/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 20/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Capacity Mapping Exercise

This is a group task that students will work on through this intensive workshop, and present on in the final session. Students in groups of 4-5 will work on assessing the policy capacity of a specific agency with reference to a specific program. The group presentation will focus on highlighting key strengths and weaknesses in policy capacities using frameworks developed in the workshop.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 01/12/2021
Return of Assessment: 09/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Policy Capacity Essay

This is a capstone paper and follows from the Capacity Mapping Exercise. Students will write a 1000 word paper on how specific weaknesses identified in the capabilities from Task 2 can be addressed. Students are expected to engage with key concepts and ideas presented in the workshops.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 09/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1-5


I need to be upfront about my expectations around participation. This is an intensive workshop. It requires commitment, especially around completing assigned readings, and actively participating in order to achieve learning outcomes across all sessions. You are expected to have completed the readings (2 journal articles for each day of the workshop, and 1 or 2 case studies), and worked through some discussion questions prior to attending the workshop. If you have active work commitments are unable to complete the readings prior to the workshop please consider if this is the right course for you.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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) 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 permitted. 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. Extensions may be granted 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 Azad Singh Bali
02 6125 0591

Research Interests

Comparative Public Policy & Health Policy

Dr Azad Singh Bali

Dr Azad Singh Bali
02 6125 0591

Research Interests

Dr Azad Singh Bali

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