• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Specialist
  • Course subject Environmental Management & Development
  • Areas of interest Environmental Studies, Policy Studies, Politics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

Each year this course will investigate the concept of water governance through a different case study or theme. Water governance will be considered across its hydrological, regulatory, financial, social and cultural dimensions and discussed in the context of subjects such as water markets, fiscal federalism, infrastructure and project assessment, displacement and resettlement resulting from large infrastructure projects, public participation, auditing and reporting frameworks, dam decommissioning, environmental rehabilitation, reform strategies, benefit sharing across borders and conflict management.

A major theme will be examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the many water-focussed disciplines, skills and techniques that have been developed by researchers and practitioners to improve water governance. Challenges take many forms but central are political questions that highlight the importance of cultural values, institutional design and governance. How are problems defined? Who dominates decision making? Answers frequently reveal powerful path dependencies – often involving state capture by vested interests. The aim is to build student skills as researchers, policy makers, managers and agents of change.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the dynamic complexity of human-water relationships in a variety of contexts with a particular focus on the implications for governance.
  2. Conceptually map the stakeholder interests in contention in major policy debates and identify socio-political dynamics with a high potential for policy capture and path dependency.
  3. Conduct presentations that will promote informed and constructive dialogue between contending interests.
  4. Identify and critically review options for future policy development.
  5. Assess the differing strengths and potentials of the many disciplines, skills and techniques used to research water related governance issues.

Other Information

Topic for 2022: Murray-Darling Basin – Past and Future

This topic investigates path dependency, policy capture and future water management options in the Murray Darling Basin through the analysis of a number of recent major public inquiries. Issues would include basin-wide governance, adequacy of the Basin Plan, water sharing between the states, water markets, links between water policy and social and economic change, water policy corruption in New South Wales, Indigenous water rights, federal funding for projects such as NSW’s Wyangala Dam and Victoria’s Food Bowl Modernization Scheme, the environmental water needs of the northern MDB, and management of the lower lakes. The reports produced by these inquiries bring together clearly written statements describing major policy challenges and associated issues and are frequently accompanied by public submissions from a wide range of stakeholders and concerned observers. The reports, submissions and subsequent responses by critics provide an excellent potential resource for researchers and students wanting to investigate complex policy areas which are otherwise very difficult to define and analyse. Australian governments make frequent use of such public inquiries to defuse crisis or create a depoliticised foundation for policy change. This topic will examine their role in the wider political system using the MDB as a case study. 

Indicative Assessment

  1. A presentation introducing the subject of the research essay (7-8 minutes) (20) [LO 2,3,4]
  2. A course journal reflecting on the issues discussed in each session focusing on the development of an agenda for future research (3500-4000 words) (40) [LO 1,5]
  3. Research essay (2500 words) (40) [LO 1,2,4]

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.


The workload for a 6 unit course is approximately 120 hours of study including class time and private study. This is an intensive course combining a week-long workshop and tutorials over two weeks plus two online sessions in the weeks prior to the workshop.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

No prescribed text. Reference material will be prepared for each session depending on the selected case study and related issues.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

There are no current offerings for this course.

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