• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy, Policy Studies, Social Research, Economics, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Katie Steele
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course offers critical reflection on the design and evaluation of public policy, drawing on both moral/political philosophy and the philosophy of science. Topics will vary but may include: 

·       How is the ‘evidence-based policy’ standard best understood?

·       How should we measure ‘well-being’, and is its distribution crucial to policy assessment?

·       What inequalities between generations matter?

·       Is compensation owed for historical injustices?

·       How should we respond to the under-representation of minorities in public institutions?

·       What is the significance of personal responsibility in the distribution of shared resources?

·       Is statistical discrimination (e.g. racial profiling) ever justified?

·       Should free speech be stringently protected?

·       What, if anything, is wrong with ‘virtue signalling’?

·       Is there a right to privacy?

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. understand and articulate key philosophical issues pertaining to the design and evaluation of public policy;
  2. engage with and critically evaluate (in essay form) philosophical arguments concerning moral/political philosophy and philosophy of science that are pertinent to policy-making;
  3. engage in well-reasoned, justified and articulate discussion and debate; and
  4. apply philosophical distinctions and principles examined in the course to real-world policy problems.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 1 x written assessment (equal to 2,000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. 1 x written assessment (equal to 2,500 words) (50) [LO 1,2,4]
  3. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,3,4]

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 35 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 11 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities.
b) 95 hours of independent student research, reading and writing supported by WATTLE recordings and lecture notes.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed texts will be available on the course Wattle page in electronic form.

Preliminary Reading

Cartwright, N. and Hardie, J. (2012) 'Evidence-Based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing it Better'; Douglas, H. (2009) 'Science in Policy-Making: Objectivity, Values, and Risk'; Anderson, E. (2013) ‘The Imperative of Integration’; Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A. and Fitoussi, J. (2010) 'Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn't Add Up'; Wolff, J. (2011) 'Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry'.


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
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3919 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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