• Class Number 1576
  • Term Code 3220
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic On Campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Sharon Bessell
    • Prof Sharon Bessell
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 14/02/2022
  • Class End Date 21/04/2022
  • Census Date 04/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 21/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

Poverty remains one of the most significant policy challenges facing the world today. In countries across the global South and the global North there is a need for urgency in addressing poverty, reflected in the first of the Sustainable Development Goals. While there was progress in addressing extreme poverty in the first two decades of the twenty-first century, the global coronavirus pandemic has resulted in that trend being reversed, with tens of millions – perhaps billions – of people being plunged into poverty. Poverty constrains, and sometimes destroys, the lives of individuals. It is a denial of basic human rights and undermines the development of human capital and the progress of well-being.  Yet even the definition of poverty is contested and ways of measuring and addressing it are intensely debated.

This course will equip students to understand those debates. It will examine the policies and programs that have achieved success and those that have missed the mark.  It will cover:-

  • Conceptualisations and definitions of poverty.
  • Debates around poverty measurement and various approaches.
  • Intersections of gender, age, disability, location, ethnicity and poverty.
  • The relationship between inequality, marginalisation, and poverty.
  • The ongoing implications of colonisation and global maldistribution.
  • Policy and programs to reduce poverty.
  • The evolution of global thinking around poverty reduction, including the Sustainable Development Goals and SDG1.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Analyse complex theories and debates around reducing poverty.
  2. Debate key perspectives on definitions and measurement of poverty.
  3. Distinguish and demonstrate an advanced understanding of the social groups that are especially vulnerable to poverty.
  4. Understand the interconnections between poverty and marginalisation and inequality.
  5. Analyse the policies and programs that have achieved success and those that have not.
  6. Demonstrate knowledge to develop policies and programs to reduce poverty.

Research-Led Teaching

My own research revolves around issues of social justice, equality, and human rights; with a particular focus on development. My research focuses on three broad areas. First, social policy for children who are living in difficult circumstances; I am currently leading two projects on multidimensional child poverty - one in Australia and one in Indonesia. The second area of focus is the gendered and generational nature of multidimensional poverty. Over the past thirteen years, I have led research on new approaches to assessing and responding to multidimensional poverty. You can find out more about our work at immp.crawford.anu.edu.au. The third are of focus is gender equality, and particularly women's political participation.

This course critically engages with both the literature and policies, programs, and services designed to address poverty. It is also shaped by my own research, which focuses on the gendered and generational nature of multidimensional poverty and the structural and systemic drivers of poverty.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

You will need a laptop and smartphone to engage in class quizzes and activities. Please contact Professor Bessell if you have any concerns.

Required Resources

Recorded lectures

Recorded lectures for each topic discussed are on our Wattle site. This is an intensive course, and you may not have time to listen to every lecture - but the more you listen to the more you will be able to engage in class discussions and the more you will gain from the course. The lectures are provided as resources - you are expected to listen to at least one lecture for each topic and advised to listen to all lectures for topics that you are interested in (and certainly listen to all lectures for any topics on which you plan to use for your assessment tasks). There is information on the Wattle site to help you decide which lectures you are most interested in and to help you prioritise your listening.


There is no text book for Poverty Reduction, but key readings will be available on our Wattle site.

Most topics have two or more readings. It is not compulsory that you read every article - but the more you read, the more you will gain from the course. Ideally, you should go beyond the readings provided - particularly for your assessment tasks - and explore the literature more broadly. Of course, if you do not do any reading, you will not gain maximum benefit from the class.

Videos and podcasts

There is an enormous range of excellent videos and podcasts available on the topics we will be discussing. Some of the most powerful or interesting are posted on our Wattle site as additional resources that you may wish to use. These may be especially helpful for your assessment tasks.

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 Day 1: 21 February 2022 What is poverty? Conceptualisations and Definitions Measuring Poverty: Key Debates and Concepts In this session, we ask 'what is poverty?'. We will explore and critique some of the ways in which poverty is conceptualised and defined. We will then explore some of the key debates around the ways in which poverty is measured and consider key that underpin measurement. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
2 Day 2: 25 February 2022 Poverty within countries: Case studies - Australia and Indonesia In this session, we will explore two case studies: Australia and Indonesia. In these two very different contexts, we will explore the nature and extent of poverty and will consider how poverty is measured. We will also examine some of the key drivers of poverty and policy responses in each country. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
3 Day 3: 28 February 2022 Global Inequality, Climate Change and Poverty In the previous session, we examined poverty in Australia and Indonesia. Today, we focus on the global context. We assess the nature of global inequality and the impacts for both the poorest countries and the poorest people in countries that are not defined as 'poor'. In this session, we will also explore the implications of global climate emergency for poverty. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
4 Day 4: 11 March 2022 Poverty, Gender and Intersectionality In this session, we examine the ways in which different identities or characteristics shape the experience of poverty for individuals and specific social groups. We explore the gendered nature of poverty, as well as the ways in which patterns of discrimination play out to create or exacerbate poverty. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
5 Day 5: 18 March 2022 Poverty and Social Exclusion In the previous session we used intersectional and gendered analysis to examine how patterns of poverty play out. In this session, we further discuss the relationship between poverty and social exclusion and explore various policy responses. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
6 Day 6: 21 March 2022 Challenges and Opportunities In this final session together, we recap on the key debates and ideas covered in the course and explore the policy challenges and opportunities for addressing poverty. RECORDINGS AND READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quizzes 15 % * * 1,2
Infographic and mini-presentation 35 % 28/03/2022 11/04/2022 1,2,6
Essay 50 % 16/04/2022 13/05/2022 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 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.


Attendance and active participation is expected in all classes (on-line or face to face) - and is important to ensure students gain the most from the course. Quizzes (part of the formative assessment) are in-class and you will need to attend class in order to complete the quizzes.


This course does not include a formal examination.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2


There will be three short, in-class quizzes during the course. Dates for the quizzes will be available on the course Wattle site prior to the start of the course.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 28/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 11/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,6

Infographic and mini-presentation

The infographic and mini-presentation will enable students to engage with and deepen their understanding of a specific policy/program that has impacted on poverty (either positively or negatively). The task rubric and key dates will be available on the course Wattle site prior to the commencement of the course.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 16/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 13/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5,6


The essay is a research based task, which provides students with the opportunity to explore and understand the drivers of and responses to poverty. The task rubric and key dates will be available on the course Wattle site prior to the commencement of the course.

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).
Prof Sharon Bessell
02 6125 6562

Research Interests

Sharon’s research interests revolve around issues of social justice and human rights, focusing on two broad areas. The first is social policy, social justice and the human rights of children. The second is the gendered and generational dimensions of poverty, with a focus on qualitative and innovative research to disrupt disadvantage, reveal structural barriers, and respond to and value local contexts.  

Prof Sharon Bessell

By Appointment
Prof Sharon Bessell
02 6125 6562

Research Interests

Prof Sharon Bessell

By Appointment

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