• Class Number 4331
  • Term Code 3330
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Online
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • AsPr Bjoern Dressel
    • AsPr Bjoern Dressel
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 20/02/2023
  • Class End Date 26/05/2023
  • Census Date 31/03/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 27/02/2023
SELT Survey Results

In this course students examine the role of evidence, knowledge production and data analysis in public policy.  Particular emphasis is placed on equipping students with skills to interpret data, and appraise different quantitative and qualitative techniques for policy analysis, such as cost benefit analysis, statistical analysis, and interpretive analysis. As a starting point students consider what is knowledge and evidence for public policy, and engage in debates on evidence-based policy making. They then explore the use of evidence and analysis in different stages of the policy process from problem identification, option appraisal, political constraint analysis, through to policy evaluation.  Through applied exercises students will gain skills in interpreting evidence, analysing quantitative and qualitative data, and crafting persuasive policy arguments based on evidence. Throughout the course students will consider broader themes on the use of knowledge in public policy, including the politics, risks and political economy of knowledge production in a data rich world. Consideration is also given to emerging forms of policy analysis such as data visualisation, behavioural insights, forecasting, and machine learning from big data.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate a working knowledge of key terms and concepts associated with evidence and policy analysis
  2. interpret and analyse different types of policy relevant data
  3. appraise the strengths and weaknesses of different quantitative and qualitative approaches to policy analysis
  4. contribute to informed discussions on evidence based policy making, the politics and political economy of knowledge production
  5. demonstrate the ability to think independently and communicate persuasively by drawing on policy evidence and analysis

Required Resources

see for detailed reading list the course related wattle site

Recommended (though not required for purchase):

Althaus, Catherine, Peter Bridgeman, and Glyn Davis. The Australian Policy Handbook, 4th edition

Argyros, George. 2009. Evidence for Policy and Decision Making. A Practical Guide. UNSW Press

Bardach, Eugene and Eric M. Patashnik. A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis. SAGE. 5 edition.

Boaz, A., Davies, H., Fraser, A. & Nutley, S. (2019). (Eds.) What works now? Evidence-informed policy and practice. Bristol: Policy Press.

Dunn W. 2016. Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction. Routledge. Cartwright, Nancy and Hardie, Jeremy. 2012.

Evidence-Based Policy. A Practical Guide to Doing Better. Oxford University Press

Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine, and Dvora Yanow. 2011. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes. 1 edition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Meltzer, Rachel and Schwartz, Alex. 2019. Policy Analysis as Problem Solving. Routledge.

Majone, G. 1989. Evidence, Argument, and Persuasion in the Policy Process. New Haven CT, Yale University Press.

Patton, Carl. V., Sawicki, D., and Clark, Jennifer J. 2013. Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning.

Pearson. Stoker, Gerry and Mark Evans (ed). 2016. Evidence-based policy making in the Social Sciences. Methods that Matter. Policy Press.

Weimer, David L. and Aidan R Vining. 2017. Policy Analysis. Concepts and Practice. Routledge. (6 edition)

Wildavsky, A. 1979. Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 

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 (Feb 21) Introduction: Policy-making as Problem Solving - the 'rationality project' revisited (Lecture) None
2 Part A: Foundations: How can we know what works? Week 2 (Feb 28) History: Expertise and the Technocratic State (Lecture) None
3 Week 3 (March 7) Impact Evaluations (Lecture) None
4 Week 4 (March 14) Economic Modeling (Lecture) None
5 Week 5 (March 21) Cost-Benefit-Analysis (Lecture) None
6 Week 6 (March 28) Policy Analysis Exercise (Online only) Take Home Essay 1
7 Part B: How can we convince policymakers to do what works? Week 7 (April 19) Demand-Side and Supply-side Approaches (Lecture) None
8 Week 8 (April 26) Big Data, AI and Policy Processes (Lecture) None
9 Part C: Challenges Week 9 (May 2) Limitations of Policy-Making. Policy as Politics (Lecture) Take Home Essay 2
10 Week 10 (May 9) Participatory Concerns - Can we know what works without asking the people it's supposed to work for? (Lecture) None
11 Week 11 (May 16) What do we really know? Epistemology, Methods and Ethics (Lecture) None
12 Week 12 (May 23) Wrap-up: Better Data, Better Government? (Lecture) None
13 Examination Period Final Exam Final Exam

Tutorial Registration

There will be a wattle sign up process for the tutorials

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Reflective Exercise 25 % 29/03/2023 10/04/2023 1,4,5
Case Study Analysis 25 % 10/05/2023 19/05/2023 1, 2 ,3
Final Exam 40 % 13/06/2023 30/06/2023 1,2,3,4,5
Class/Tutorial Exercises 10 % 21/02/2023 23/05/2023 2,4

* 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.


Class and Tutorial Participation is expected. Class/Tutorial exercises are worth 10% of your final grade.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 29/03/2023
Return of Assessment: 10/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,4,5

Reflective Exercise

Based on your experience in making, observing or being the subject of decisions by an organisation, write a short review (800-1000 words) of how evidence is used to support policy and/or decision making in an organisation. In your review, you should consider equally the following three issues:

  1. What kinds of evidence are considered more or less ‘legitimate’?
  2. Are some methods of collecting information preferred over others? If so, why?
  3. Based on your experience with the organisation, what changes would you recommend to improve the use of evidence for decision-making?

Tip: wherever possible, relate your discussion of the practice in your workplace or observed organisation to the literature in class that discusses the nature and use of evidence in policy-making.

Note: to preserve confidentiality, you are not required to nominate the organisation that you have worked in, observed or of which you have been a client. Just describe its role and your role—for example, as an employee, observer or client.

This assignment is worth 25% of your final grade.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 10/05/2023
Return of Assessment: 19/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2 ,3

Case Study Analysis

The second assignment will consist of writing a memo based on a case study. The memo should cover the following issues:

·        Identification of policy issues at hand;

·        Advocating for two technical approaches in addressing the issues;

·        Reasoning on the potential benefits and limits in using the chosen approach;

·        Discussion of why policy actors might want to use the information that the chosen approach provides.


The memo will be evaluated on the ability to clearly state the problem, consider the data and relevant techniques, and assess any intervening factors affecting causality. In short, the paper is not an argumentative piece in the narrow sense, but it is meant to illustrate your understanding of policy-relevant data and techniques, and their use as tools to interpret policy issues and make evidence-based change.

This assignment is worth 25% of your final grade.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 13/06/2023
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final Exam

The final assignment will be an exam consisting of short answer and long answer questions covering the whole class content. The turn around time for this assignment is 72 hours.

The final assignment is worth 40% of your final grade.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 21/02/2023
Return of Assessment: 23/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 2,4

Class/Tutorial Exercises

Three short class/tutorial exercises will contribute to the overall class grade.

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).
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