• Class Number 4653
  • Term Code 3250
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nadeem Samnakay
    • Dr Nadeem Samnakay
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 04/07/2022
  • Class End Date 19/08/2022
  • Census Date 15/07/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 15/07/2022
SELT Survey Results

Grounded in the discipline of public environmental policy, the course considers the complexities around public policy-making for the environment and sustainability. The course considers how policy is made and the institutional settings within which it is made, how problems and policies are framed, implemented and evaluated, and the inherent challenges in choosing appropriate policy instruments to meet an objective. The course focuses particularly on Australia’s public environmental policy and institutional settings. Comparisons with international case studies will be made. Interactive lectures and seminars provide students with opportunities to analyse specific environmental policy issues in theoretical frameworks and over different time scales. Once a general overview of how environmental policy is created we apply a structured analytical tool to assess whether existing environmental policies in Australia are adequate to meet the challenges of environmental management in a changing climate. Topics explored include water, forestry, biodiversity and climate policy, sustainability in business and industry, public and civil society participation in policy-making, and comparisons will be made with overseas environmental policy examples.

This course is offered as an intensive over 2 weeks. Participation during this 2 weeks is required. Each day will consist of a series of lectures, seminars and group discussions. Active participation by students is strongly encouraged.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and examine the basis of environmental policy and how it is developed and implemented in Australia, as well as in other relevant jurisdictions.
  2. Describe and evaluate key environmental public policies, as well as information and tools to support them.
  3. Evaluate alternative choices of policy design and policy instruments in the context of major environment and sustainability issues, including in both Australian and international contexts.
  4. Recognize and articulate the role of politics and the media in environmental policy development and evaluation.
  5. Employ advanced research, writing and presentation skills, including to construct written and oral material relevant to the public policy sphere.
  6. Participate in, and lead group learning processes and activities in the context of environmental policy.

Research-Led Teaching

This course in Environmental Policy and how policy processes shape decision-making and action related to the environment draws on the convenor’s, tutor’s and guest presenters’ recent research and real-life practice in supporting, influencing and being a part of environmental policy processes in Australia and other parts of the world. Many of the issues covered in the course thus reflect current academic debates and the messiness often inherent in environmental policy processes that must be managed as effectively as possible. Throughout the course, students will be exposed to a variety of real policy processes and policy-support methods and tools (i.e. analytics), past and current case studies, hypothetical situations, literature, group work and facilitation experience to enable them to develop their own knowledge and skills relevant to environmental policy.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs

There are no additional costs for this course.

Examination Material or equipment


Required Resources


Students will use a range of sources during the course, including the course text, weekly readings, and further materials in researching their assessment tasks. In all cases, students will need to be critical thinkers – there are multiple schools of thought in public policy and policy analysis, and a critical stance is needed to navigate through the multiple theoretical, normative and applied approaches you will encounter. Students should not assume that the content of lectures, policy statements of government, or readings supplied are necessarily the best way to think about something – the course is designed to encourage students to construct their own learning and critical attitudes over the material they consider.

Course text (copy in Hancock short loan and available in the Co-Op bookshop): Dovers, S. and Hussey, K. 2013. Environment and sustainability: a policy handbook. 2nd edition. Sydney: Federation Press.

Week One Reading: National Water Initiative.

Each week readings will be available on Wattle, and form the basis for tutorial discussions: if students don’t read them it will show and they risk not gaining much from the tutorials or supporting their fellow students (when they are facilitating them)!

Other potentially useful texts and sources, in no particular order (check ANU library as many are available for loan) include:

  • Bridgman, P. and Davis. G. 2004. The Australian policy handbook. 3rd ed. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. A short policy handbook, intended for practitioners.
  • Howlett, M. and Ramesh, M. 2003. Studying public policy: policy cycles and policy subsystems. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. An excellent, standard policy text, with good coverage on different schools of thought and the policy and related literature.
  • Connell, D. 2007. Water politics in the Murray-Darling Basin. Sydney: Federation Press.
  • Hussey, K. and Dovers. S. (eds). 2007. Managing water for Australia: the social and institutional challenges. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.
  • Dovers, S. and Wild River, S. (eds). 2003. Managing Australia’s environment. Sydney: Federation Press.
  • Mackie, K and Saunders, S. (20128) Succeeding and failing in Australian environment policy. Brou Lake Publishing
  • Australian Policy Online: http://apo.org.au/
  • Daniell, K. and Kay, A.. 2017. Multi-Level Governance: Conceptual Challenges and Case Studies from Australia. ANU Press, Canberra. 
  • Steffen, W. 2014. ‘Managing Australia’s Environment in the Anthropocene’, in David Lindenmayer, Stephen Dovers, S. Morton (ed.) Ten Commitments Revisited: Securing Australia’s Future Environment, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Vic, pp. 227-235.
  • Althaus C., Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis. 2012. The Australian Policy Handbook. 5th edition. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Further texts and articles will also need to be found as part of the assessment tasks as this course has a strong research focus. This is particularly the case for the policy research project and tutorial organisation and facilitation exercise where we expect to see evidence of your engagement with the policy literature. Articles on policy will often be found in sector-specific journals (e.g. Energy Policy, Climate Policy, Food Policy, Water Resources Research), as well as in general policy or environmental policy journals such as those below. Most articles can be downloaded when connected through a university computer. If you are using your own computer they can be searched for through the library website (ANU password required) or using a university VPN access.

Media Sources:

To assist with your Policy in the News assignment and for weekly Tutorial discussions, you may wish to consult a variety of media sources. Some include:

The Guardian Environment: https://www.theguardian.com/au/environment

ABC New, Environment: https://www.abc.net.au/news/environment/

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists https://www.icij.org/investigations/

Environmental Defenders Office: https://www.edo.org.au

Australian Conservation Foundation, news: https://www.acf.org.au/news

News.com.au: Environment: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment

Sydney Morning Herald: Environment: https://www.smh.com.au/environment

Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment: News: https://environment.gov.au/news and on FB: <https://www.facebook.com/awegov>

NSW Environment: Twitter: https://twitter.com/nswenviromedia

Land Care: Twitter: https://twitter.com/LandcareAust

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

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

·        marks and written comments to individuals and/or groups on assessment items (e.g. policy brief, reflections, research report)

·        discussion with individual students and small groups on policy research project topics and drafts

·        discussion with small groups on tutorial facilitation and proposed content prior to the tutorial (in particular through the ‘supertutes’)

·        discussion with the whole class in lecture times on general issues and assessment items

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information


An internet connected device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) is suggested for the lectures as online polling may be integrated into them at some stages. Further information will be provided to students on Wattle if this is to occur.

Additional advice about assessment weightings and deadlines:

Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 In person and online teaching in this course consists of ten full days (9:00 to 4:00) from 4-15 July (weekdays only). Daily activities include lectures, tutorials, group study and assessments. Students should refer to the course Wattle site for a detailed daily schedule.

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Policy brief 20 % 07/07/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6
Policy in the New Report 25 % 13/07/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Policy Review Paper 45 % 23/08/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Seminar Presentation 10 % 24/08/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 07/07/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Policy brief

This assessment task is designed to get you thinking and communicating clearly about a current (and hopefully topical) public policy issue.

Task Summary

Write a 750-word Policy Brief.

The Policy Brief should describe a contemporary or emerging policy problem related to ‘environment’ and/or ‘sustainability’, those with responsibility for it, and an initial scoping of policy instruments or organisational options available to address the problem. Your readership for this are imaginary colleagues and superiors in an agency (who you define). You must also define who you are as the author of the Policy Brief (e.g. a government policy officer or researcher/scientist in the same or different agency as your addressee, etc.) Your objective is to convince the reader, with a succinct argument, that the issue represents a policy problem, why, and what initial responses might be made.

What is a Policy Brief?

A Policy Brief is a report that succinctly summarises an issue, its associated policy problem, and identifies possible options for future action. It is generally asked for and delivered to a senior government official, politician (state, territory or local), corporate executive, or senior person in a non-government organisation. It may also be addressed to a committee or a board of directors.

Typically, a Policy Brief describes an emerging, re-emerging or topical issue that falls in the senior person’s area of responsibility, and is asked for when they need an accessible description of the problem and some ideas for what might next be done to address it. This is usually needed to (i) answer questions from the media or their own superiors, or (ii) take appropriate steps to address the issue. For example, often a Policy Brief is requested when an issue or problem suddenly becomes prominent in the media, or when a natural event/disaster has occurred, an interest group makes a submission to a Minister, questions are asked in Parliament and need to be answered, or when a review of a relevant policy program has been completed and senior staff need to be brought updated on it’s findings.

A Policy Brief usually does not recommend a single option, but proposes a range of options to be considered. The options might deal with (for example) the policy processes to take the matter further, research gaps that needs to be filled, possible policy instruments to consider/analyse, organisational reform options, or a combination of these.

The environmental/sustainability issue that you choose, and the senior person or people that you will brief, can be real or imagined – as long as that which is imagined is realistic, and the issue and policy options developed are understandable. We encourage students to take on a well-defined, specific issue rather than a big, global and poorly-defined issue, as it makes it easier to describe and develop options when the scope of the Policy Brief is narrower. For example, it is more achievable to write about an aspect of emissions reductions rather than the whole climate change agenda in a 750-word Policy Brief! Also, it is recommended that students define a policy issue or problem that is tractable to a policy solution or discussion, rather than present an issue to be argued over.

An Example

An estuary that is close to a city and used for recreation and commercial fishing has been affected by algal blooms. This has not occurred for several years. Previously when it occurred, there research undertaken, recommendations make, and management interventions: mainly a tightening of regulation to reduce nutrients coming from point-sources in nearby urban and industrial areas. Considerable public concern about this recent algal bloom is evident, and the Minister for the Environment must respond.

The Policy Brief would: summarise what algal blooms are and why they occur; identify previous studies; describe the previous policy and management actions; consider why the problem is re-occurring (drought? new sources of nutrients? lack of enforcement of regulations?); and propose options for further consideration (e.g. investigate non-point source nutrient from farmlands within the catchment, review levels of compliance with regulations, formulate an interdepartmental committee across the relevant state agencies, call a public meeting of affected stakeholders, etc.).

A typical structure of a Policy Brief is:

  1.  Front matter – clearly identifying who the Policy Brief is written for, who it was prepared by, the date, and topic. Include people’s roles or affiliations.
  2.  Talking points – four (4) one-sentence dot points that succinctly sum up your main messages in the Policy Brief. These are the four messages that are most important for the senior person or people to read and know about before they step into a media briefing, community event, or Parliament question time, etc.
  3.  An introduction identifying the issue and for whom the brief is written (approx. 50-100 words).
  4. Description of the issue/problem (approx. 200-250 words).
  5. An outline of what has previously been done to address the issue, in the relevant jurisdiction and/or elsewhere (approx. 200- 250 words).
  6. Options to be considered for further action, say 2-5 depending on the nature of the problem, maybe as short dot point paragraphs, and the expected impact of each option (approx. 200-250 words).
  7. References/Sources, whether in the text or as notes at the end (not many, but perhaps a previous report or two, recent media sources, etc.)

Note. You may vary this structure to suit your preferred communication style or your topic.

The Policy Brief should be easily understood by a competent and professional person, but who is not familiar with the technical aspects of the issue. It should be presented in a readable and simple lay-out – i.e. summary graphs rather than data in the text, short/easy to read paragraphs, dot points, sub-headings to guide the reader, etc. Minimal referencing is required, but some supporting materials will be necessary to add authority (e.g. formal references) or political reality (e.g. opinion polls, media coverage) to your argument.


What this Kind of Assessment Measures

Writing a Policy Brief demonstrates your skills at researching facts and information and presenting it in a succinct format. Policy Briefs are not discursive; they utilise bullet points and numbered lists to present findings on particular aspects of the task. This assessment will measure your ability to put forward an organised piece of writing: to compile and explain data, facts or similar information; and succinctly present your conclusions. Pay attention to formatting, as poorly laid out work can detract from the content of your argument. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 13/07/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Policy in the New Report

Sometimes your studies at university can seem a bit abstract or disconnected to “the real world” which can in turn make you feel like nothing you’re learning is actually relevant to your day-to-day life or future career! The purpose of this assessment is to link what you’re learning in the lectures and tutorials with the implications of policy in practice.

For this assessment, you are required to:

Identify three substantial articles in the print or on-line media that explore or present three different aspects of the course content. For example, you could find an article that discusses the merits of one particular policy instrument over another; or an article that discusses the challenges of implementing a particular policy; or another on developments internationally which have implications for the domestic policy agenda; or another on the broader context in which environmental policy exists. The point is: you will need to keep an eye on the print media throughout the course, and pick three articles that appeal to you.  The articles can be on the same issue, but they must reflect three different aspects or concepts discussed in the course. 

You will write between 300 and 500 words on each of the articles, explaining the environmental issue in question, the way in which the articles present and discuss the key concepts from the course, and your reflections on how the articles portray the challenges of designing and implementing policy in practice.


Assessment Criteria

Please refer to the course WATTLE site.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 23/08/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Policy Review Paper

Each student shall write a policy review paper. This is a review, or an evaluation, of an existing policy relating to sustainable development. It can involve some of the policies we have reviewed during the course (except the NWI).

This assignment is designed to help you learn the following skills:

a)   How to search for, and critically evaluate, information relevant to a current environmental policy (National, state, regional, international)

b)   Undertake a literature review and explore examples of similar policy documents from other regions and consider preferable policy options

c)   Use the policy evaluation tool (provided during the course) to assess whether the existing policy provides a sound basis for the management of an existing sustainable development issue. a policy

d)   Use critical analysis methods to review a policy, define deficiencies and successes

e)   Make sound recommendations for policy enhancement that a policy maker would find informative

The assignment is designed as follows:

  • Each Final Policy Research Report should include the following key elements:
  • Policy identification and importance statement – why is it arising/who if anyone is interested in getting it on the agenda? This should include some recent and/or historical media and policy document analysis.
  • Literature review of policy approaches to address the problem area – what has been done previously in the target area/other areas or countries?
  • Prepare a tabulated evaluation of the policy based on the Strategic Sustainability Policy Evaluation Framework which we will discuss during the course
  • Provide alternative policy options to suggest how the policy could be improved and what positive/negative impacts (and on who) might these have? Here disciplinary expertise and policy analytics for evaluating options may be used.
  • Policy recommendations – Make clear recommendations on how the policy could be improved, while noting real world constraints


The Policy Review Report should be clearly structured including headings and subheadings, using a professional-looking format or style. Students are encouraged to use tables, figures and some sections where key issues or lists are summarised as dot-points.


Students should use the Strategic NRM Policy Evaluation Framework provided as a basis. Additional evaluation points may be added.

The report should make an argument of some type (e.g. towards a policy recommendation, needs for evaluation or future research, improved mechanisms for policy implementation). This argument should be summarised in the executive summary (300-400 words) as a series of key points (dot-points or numbered list). Plain English, as free as possible of jargon and academic style, should be employed. References should be included and can be presented in either Harvard or numbered Endnote format. Please closely proof-read your report before submission and ask a friend or family member to read it for comprehension to ensure that a ‘generalist’ audience can understand your argument.

Assessment Criteria

Please refer to the course WATTLE site

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 24/08/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Seminar Presentation

Students will present a 10 minute talk with visual resources (i.e. power point presentation) which captures highlights from their Policy Review findings. 

Your presentation should highlight:

  1. Any strengths and weaknesses in how the policy problem has been presented?
  2. What are the critical design or process weaknesses of the policy and what this means for achievement of policy objectives?
  3. How would you evaluate the success or failure of the policy if your task was to evaluate policy effectiveness?

Assessment Criteria

Please refer to the course WATTLE site.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via Wattle in normal circumstances.

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignments will only be considered in exceptional circumstances dues to causes beyond the student’s control.

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 Nadeem Samnakay

Research Interests

Environmental policy, natural resource management

Dr Nadeem Samnakay

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Nadeem Samnakay

Research Interests

Dr Nadeem Samnakay

By Appointment
By Appointment

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