Course Title: Researching Policy

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Researching Policy

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011

Course Coordinator: Dr Sharon Andrews

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 8239

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 37.2.8

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Researching Policy is designed to introduce you to doing public policy research. Here, we will bring together social science thinking, social research approaches, and public policy development, and explore how these three dimensions contribute to social change in local communities. The course is focused on the way communities and local governments discover various problems and develop a variety of policy solutions.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the completion of the course you will be able to:

• Identify and describe the nature and processes of public policy making in local government;

• Identify and describe the role of social research as the evidence base for public policy making;

• Identify and describe a number of research approaches and evidence gathering tools used in public policy research;

• Identify and critically analyse the issues and debates regarding the use of social research evidence, including the political nature of research, ethical practice and interpretation;

• Identify and critically analyse the introductory public policy and social research literature;

• Use social science ideas and theory to review and analyse public policy and social research evidence;

• Successfully gather research evidence and develop a policy brief in relation to a social issue.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students are required to engage in weekly workshops.  These workshops are designed to provide learning opportunities and support students in achieving the learning objectives for the course.  Students are required to attend and contribute to weekly workshops in order to:

• Become familiar with thinking and talking about social research and public policy
• Engage in learning activities which will assist the development of knowledge and understanding
• Maintain regular weekly contact with tutor who will monitor and support student progress in the course
• Discuss the weekly topic material, reading and developments
• Take responsibility for contributing to weekly topic discussions
• Ensure reading and other preparation is completed
• Contribute to the collective learning experience
• Develop the confidence to explain and analyse course topics

Overview of Learning Resources

This course relies on students to undertake weekly reading. To achieve the best value from the course students need to be prepared for weekly workshops. This preparation is particularly important for assessment activities. Student learning, through class discussion and written assessment depends on familiarity with the social research, local government and policy literature and research.

There are no set texts for the course. Staff have prepared a reading list for each topic. This is a mix of texts, journal articles and research reports. A reading pack has been prepared and can be purchased from the RMIT Bookshop. Although not required, it is highly recommended, that students get access (either buy or via the RMIT library) to a copy of The Australian Policy Handbook (2007) 4th edition by Catherine Althaus, Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis. This book provides a solid foundation in policy making processes and will be useful to reflect upon during the semester and subsequent years of your program.

This course will also make significant use of the RMIT Online learning hub course site for the dissemination of resources and communication with students. It is expected that students will log on several times a week as part of their normal study requirements.

Overview of Assessment

You will be required to complete a number of assignments in order to demonstrate your learning.