• Class Number 7251
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Online
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
    • AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course provides students with important skills for interpreting and using policy research. Students will be introduced to the process and methods of empirical policy research. The course begins with an introduction to the research process and its basis in the philosophy of science, before moving on to discuss aspects of concept formation and operationalization. Students will explore the craft of formulating research questions and generating hypotheses, discuss aspects of causal inference and consider various research methods including qualitative, quantitative, experimental, observational and mixed methods approaches. Through practical cases, students will reflect on the role of research in the policy process, the ethics of policy research, and how to navigate the interface between research and practice to get effective policy outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. define and explain a variety of approaches to research in social sciences (L1);
  2. demonstrate a basic knowledge of commonly used methodological tools in empirical research, including surveys, interviews, content analysis, case selection and comparison, and basic statistical methods (L2);
  3. appraise strengths and weaknesses of existing methodological approaches, including: assess conditions under which one can properly apply tools of measurement and systematic ways to make inferences and interpret data (L3); and
  4. formulate research questions, develop arguments and choose proper research design in its support (L4).

Research-Led Teaching

The course is designed to enable students to assess independently the validity of policy research, and to survey major approaches to policy research. Students will be actively involved in assessing and designing research throughout the semester.

Field Trips

None required.

Additional Course Costs

There are no expected additional costs.

Examination Material or equipment

There is no examination.

Required Resources

All resources are provided electronically via Wattle.

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: Introduction Topics: Course overview (outline, requirements); why policy research matters
2 Week 2: Questions and Concepts Topics: What are concepts and why do they matter?
3 Week 3: Theory, Hypotheses, Measurement Topics: Inductive vs. deductive research, theory and hypothesis, measurement reliability and validity
4 Week 4. Causal Inference Topics: Fundamentals of causal inference; how do different research strategies deal with threats to causal attribution?
5 Week 5: Qualitative Approaches to Causal Inference Topics: Approaches to causal inference using qualitative data
6 Week 6: Data Analysis - Statistical I Topics: Types of statistical data; sampling
7 Week 7: Data Analysis - Statistical II Topics: Advantages and disadvantages of statistical methods; statistical strategies for causal inference
8 Week 8: Experimental data & analysis Topics: Why are experiments considered the "gold standard" for demonstrating causality?; internal vs. external validity
9 Week 9: Worldviews - Positivism vs. Interpretivism Topics: What are interpretivism and positivism as distinct research traditions? A key focus is on differences in the assumptions that lie behind these two approaches.
10 Week 10: Interpretivist Approaches Topics: Data collection and analysis in the interpretivist tradition
11 Week 11: The Ethics of Policy Research Topics: What are the ethical principles involved when conducting research?; what protocols exit to manage ethical concerns?
12 Week 12: Review: The Research Frontier Topics: The methodological frontier; recapping lessons from the course

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials are available.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Literature Review Exercise 40 % 19/09/2022 06/10/2022 L1, L2
Research Design Exercise 40 % 08/11/2022 01/12/2022 L1, L2, L4
Participation 20 % * * L1, L2, L3, L4

* 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.


There is no examination.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 19/09/2022
Return of Assessment: 06/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2

Literature Review Exercise

In this exercise we ask you to carry out a synthetic review of key findings in an important area of public policy.

Length: approx. 1,500 words

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 08/11/2022
Return of Assessment: 01/12/2022
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L4

Research Design Exercise

In this exercise we ask you to go a step further and design research for yourself, including defining a research question.

The second assignment requires you to design two studies to answer a public policy question that is amenable to research, with the research design chosen from those introduced in the class. You will need to ask yourself questions like:

  • How can I define a policy question that is amenable to research?
  • How should I define the outcome of interest?
  • What research designs might offer useful information about the outcome of interest?
  • What might be the ethical and political implications of my research, if any?

Length: approx. 1,500 words

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L3, L4


Formative exercises will be required of students in preparation for the synchronous workshops, centred on short summaries of the assigned reading(s).

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 without an extension 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.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via the Wattle interface.

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

There is no ability to resubmit an assignment.

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).
AsPr Llewelyn Hughes

Research Interests

energy and climate change policy, political economy, business-government relations, Asia-Pacific

AsPr Llewelyn Hughes

By Appointment
By Appointment
AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
02 6125 3861

Research Interests

AsPr Llewelyn Hughes

By Appointment
By Appointment

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