• Class Number 4445
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic On Campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Elise Klein
    • Dr Elise Klein
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of contemporary public policy making. Students will explore core debates in policy studies and consider concepts, models and tools for making, implementing and evaluating public policy. To provide a deeper understanding of the policy process, students will be introduced to analytical perspectives on various stages of the policy process with the aim of provoking critical inquiry into policy practices and outcomes. Students will consider the variety of policy actors and networks in the policy process, and reflect on how competing values and interests influence what issues get policy attention, how they shape decisions, outcomes and evaluation procedures. Students will also debate the different approaches to policy decision making (incrementalism or rational approaches),the implications of governance arrangements between state and non-state actors, and the internationalisation and globalisation of public policy.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate a working knowledge of key terms, concepts and ideas in the study of public policy;
  2. analyze, debate and critically evaluate how public policy issues come onto the agenda, how they are framed, defined and managed;
  3. debate and apply knowledge of policy instruments, including their behavioral assumptions and the necessary institutional and political conditions for effective implementation;
  4. understand and critically engage in core debates in the field of policy studies including on policy decision-making, implementation, evaluation and policy transfer;
  5. demonstrate the ability to think independently, reflectively and persuasively on the politics and practices of implementing and evaluating public policy.

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 Week 1: Public Policy Within and Beyond 'the State' This introductory session has three components. First, we discuss the course rationale, structure, and assessment. Second, we ask ‘what is public policy?’ and explore some of the nuances of this fundamental question. Third, we consider a number of the key concepts that we will be using throughout the course, including ‘the state’, policy actors and notions of 'the public'.
2 Week 2: Making sense of public policy This session will explore some of the ways that scholars of public policy have sought to make sense of how the policy process works, and how decisions are made. In particular we will examine different kinds of policy models. For example, we examine models that aim to describe how policy actually works, those that provide normative guides on what ought to happen, and those that try to explain why things occur the way they do. Our discussion will also explore the debate between rational and incremental models of decision making, and consider the notion and effects of bounded rationality.
3 Week 3: Power and the policy process Policy and policy processes do not impact everyone the same. Considering the role of power in policy processes is crucial and develops our way of thinking about the' public' and 'population'. In this session we specifically consider the role of power and inequalities examining specifically issues around race, class, gender, (dis)ability and intersectionality, and how considering each brings important perspectives to the policy process.
4 Week 4: Policy Problems, Agenda Setting and Framing Defining public problems is not a neutral act. It involves selecting certain facts and values as important in one’s representation of the world while dismissing others. At any given time, different groups push their problem definitions into the public and political realm. They work to ‘frame’ problems and issues in order to grab the attention of key power brokers (such as the mass media) and policy makers. Without this attention, even the best-argued case for policy reform can fall flat. In this session we consider how the scarce resource of ‘attention’ is allocated in political systems. We begin by considering the significance of values and value conflict in public policy. We then consider what sort of issues receive attention and why. Finally we consider how policy agendas are formed and altered, and discuss various mechanisms used to keep issues off the agenda.
5 Week 5: Governance, Policy Co-ordination and Engagement Most policy arenas in most political systems can be characterised as shared power worlds: no single actor can make binding decisions about policies and programs alone. This means that whatever substantive disagreements they may have, all actors (politicians, bureaucrats, interest groups, and citizens) in policy processes know that they are (at least in part) mutually interdependent. In this session we explore the concept of governance and consider the increasing role of policy networks in making, implementing and evaluating public policy. This will lead us into a discussion about the issues surrounding interactive forms of policy making where governments attempt to work collaboratively with a host of non-government actors (e.g. business groups and NGOs), and the broader public. We also consider recent attempts to democratise the policy process through the application of more deliberative and inclusive forms of citizen engagement. Assessment 1: due Friday 26 March (11.55pm)
6 Week 6: The Tools and Instruments of Policy In this session, we look at the building blocks and behavioural assumptions behind the various types of policy interventions that governments may consider. They constitute the ‘tools’ or ‘instruments’ of government. We will discuss the logics underlying policy instruments and consider their likely desired and undesired effects among and beyond ‘target populations’.
7 Week 7: Policy Transfer and Learning in a Global Context In this session, we explore the concepts of policy learning and policy transfer which are used to 'make sense' of the movement of ideas and programs between jurisdictions and nations. We will also discuss the increasingly global context in which policy issues emerge and are addressed.
8 Week 8: Knowledge, Uncertainty and Policy Analysis In this session we examine the role of knowledge in the policy making process. In our discussion we will explore the contribution that different kinds of policy analysis can make to the policy process. We also discuss the heavily contested concept of 'evidenced-based policymaking’. Increasingly policy controversies and problems emerge in contexts where knowledge is ambiguous, uncertain, and contested. In such contexts, what are the prospects for making informed, rational, fair and legitimate policy decisions? In exploring this question we discuss the potential role of public deliberation, argumentation, negotiation and judgment. Assessment 2: due Friday 30 April (11.55pm)
9 Week 9: Policy Implementation In this session we explore issues relating to policy implementation. In particular we consider why many polices on the ground differ from what they were intended to do. Our discussion will also explore the discretion and legitimacy of front-line or ‘street-level’ public servants.
10 Week 10: Centralising and Decentralising Public Policy In this session we will explore the distinction between, and variations in, centralised and decentralised systems of government and the impact these arrangements have on the policy development process. We will explore the differences between federalism and unitary systems and discuss the basic features, benefits and problems that different systems can present for public policy development. We will consider the arrangements that federations such as Australia put in place to facilitate coordination and cooperation between the different levels of government, and ways in which unitary systems ensure the needs of regions are met by centralised policy making. International trends towards decentralisation and ‘subsidiarity’ will be addressed.
11 Week 11: The Purpose, Process and Politics of Evaluation In this session we ask: Why evaluate policy? We consider the stages involved in standard (rational-oriented) evaluation methodologies and explore how they might inform as well as impede lesson-drawing in public policy. We then consider alternative approaches to the standard (rationalist) approach to policy evaluation, including case-study and participatory approaches. We reflect on the politics of evaluation: ultimately, the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of public programs is in the eyes of the beholder, and therefore, prone to exactly the same kind of framing battles and pulling and hauling between policy actors that we encounter in the problem-definition and policy implementation stages of the policy process.
12 Week 12: Public Policy in a Connected World (no tutorials this week) In this final session we will collectively draw out the main lessons from the course. We will consider some of the emerging themes in policy studies, such as how can states develop effective and legitimate public policies in an increasingly global context. The class will reflect on some of the key differences between making and evaluating public policy in the developing and developed world. Are these differences becoming more or less significant in an increasingly connected world? Assessment 3: in class assessment task (no tutorials this week) Assessment 3: in class assessment task (during workshop time)

Tutorial Registration

You will be asked to sign up for a weekly tutorial (both online and face to face options will be available to choose from).

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Analysis Paper – Framing 30 % 26/03/2021 09/04/2021 1, 2, 4, 5
Policy Transfer Essay 40 % 30/04/2021 14/05/2021 1, 3, 4, 5
Evaluation Task 30 % 24/05/2021 11/06/2021 1, 4, 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 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: 30 %
Due Date: 26/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 09/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4, 5

Analysis Paper – Framing

1000 words (NOT including reference list)

This assessment builds your skills in analysing policy problems, critical reading and reflection, connecting policy theory with practice, applying the language of policy studies and writing effectively.

You are required to write an 1000-word analysis paper that draws on your own policy experience or knowledge and the readings and lecture from week 4. 

For this task you need to:

  • Choose a controversial policy issue that you have been involved in or actively followed in your own country.
  • Identify and discuss how different policy actors have framed the ‘policy problem’. In your discussion, use examples to show how policy actors have used symbols, stories or characterisations of policy populations.
  • Your paper should be no more than 1000 words (lengthy contributions will be penalized). Please be concise and stay on topic. This task requires that you use your own words; do not simply regurgitate text from the readings.
  • You must cite and reference any articles, books, media and policy documents where applicable (note the reference list is not included in the word count).

The Analysis Paper is designed to assess learning outcomes 1, 2, 4, and 5. It will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • comprehension of the set task
  • demonstrated understanding of key concepts (policy actors and problem framing)
  • analysis of how policy actors frame the problem (with examples)
  • capacity to make relevant connections between practice and theory
  • evidence of your own reflections, ideas and perspectives
  • accurate citing of sources (readings/media/online sources/reports)
  • presented your ideas and arguments succinctly with accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar

 Before submission, please ensure that your written Analysis Paper has:

  • pages numbered
  • at least 2cm margins
  • 1.5 spaced text
  • reference list

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 30/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 14/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5

Policy Transfer Essay

2000 words (NOT including reference list)

This assessment builds on your skills in analysing policy programs, critical reading and reflection, connecting policy theory with practice, applying the language of policy studies and writing effectively.

You are required to write a 2000-word essay in which you analyse the transfer of a real world policy program of your choice within or to your home country. 

In your essay you need to:

  1. Briefly describe the policy program that has been transferred and what case was made to transfer it (what and why)
  2. Outline how the policy was transferred.
  3. Analyse the impacts of the transfer, specifically outlining who was impacted (intended and unintended), paying particular attention to gendered, racialised, class, disability and Indigenous groups.

The Policy Transfer Essay is designed to assess learning outcomes 1, 3, 4, and 5. It will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • focus on the set task
  • demonstrated understanding of key concepts (policy actors and policy transfer)
  • critical analysis of the policy program
  • capacity to make relevant connections between practice and theory
  • evidence of your own reflections, ideas and perspectives
  • accurate citing of sources (readings/media/online sources/reports)
  • presented your ideas and arguments succinctly with accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar


Before submission, please ensure that your Policy Transfer Essay has:

  • pages numbered
  • at least 2cm margins
  • at least 1.5 spaced text
  • reference list

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 24/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 11/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 4, 5

Evaluation Task

This assessment requires students to respond to three questions on the topic of policy evaluation in class (under exam conditions, 50 minutes) in week 12. The assessment will require students to use key terms, concepts and ideas from across the course.

The questions will be related to a particular policy scenario, which will be available from Wattle for the students to read at least three days before the exam.

To assist students prepare for this assessment task, there will be a practice session in the tutorial in week 12 with a practice scenario and mock questions.

Your Scenario Response will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • comprehension of the question(s)
  • demonstrated understanding of the process and politics of policy evaluation
  • capacity to apply evaluation themes to a particular policy scenario
  • evidence of critical thought and reflection
  • structure and coherence of response
  • ability to prepare concise responses to the set questions.

This assessment task is specifically designed to assess learning outcomes 1, 4, and 5.

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 Elise Klein
02 6125 2792

Research Interests

Dr Elise Klein

By Appointment
Dr Elise Klein
02 6125 2792

Research Interests

Dr Elise Klein

By Appointment

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