Course Title: Advanced Policy Theory

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Advanced Policy Theory

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2015

Course Coordinator: Dr Eric Porter

Course Coordinator Phone: + 61 3 9225 1011

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.2

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Completion of a pass degree in the social sciences at the required standard.

Course Description

This is an Honours level course of study for all students enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) degree on the city campus. In it you will be able to engage a range of questions which will serve to develop ideas and discussions while contributing to your Honours year research project.

This course is about making sense of how policy is made, recognising policy is the collection of decisions and instruments used by governments to respond to the diverse and complex mix of social, environmental, economic and cultural problems, issues and circumstances which confront and challenge communities, regions and nations. There are a number of models which attempt to explain how policy making happens which typically adopt sausage factory production or cyclic modes of analysis, reducing policy making to a rational, objective process of steps and stages.
Deborah Stone, and others, suggest we use other forms of analysis to understand the paradox and ambiguity of policy making. This course takes Stone’s advice and so is designed develop your policy analysis capacity so that you can engage with the complexity and challenges of developing political responses to a diverse range of often enduring and difficult problems and issues.

You will engage these concepts via a process of active reflective inquiry, reading and writing that takes you into the heartland of policy studies, as well as classical and contemporary political theory and elements of philosophy.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

  Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:
• critique and apply public policy processes, policy theory and policy practice
• critically analyse the interplay between social, economic, political, global and cultural circumstances, and the policy responses developed by contemporary policy-makers
• examine, debate, prepare and critique policy documents and policy research

At the completion of this course you will be able to demonstrate a medium-level ability to identify, analyze and critically engage with some of the key ideas and intellectual debates at the heart of western political and ethical theory, identify the strengths and weaknesses of liberalism and debate the value of a human rights discourses to policy making.

Overview of Learning Activities

The course involves weekly workshop activity. This offers you a mix of formal input from the course coordinator, group activities, problem-based learning, and group discussions in which small groups will work on a variety of learning activities. These will provide the opportunity to develop core skills such as reading, analysing, thinking, applying theoretical frameworks, developing and supporting an argument, and researching and writing essays.

Overview of Learning Resources

A course reading pack is provided. A range of books, newspapers and other media, journals and websites should be used throughout the course and in preparing assessment tasks. In addition RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

Overview of Assessment

In this course you will develop and be assessed on the following graduate capabilities:
• Policy development and management
• Critical analysis and conceptual development
• Policy making
• Ethics and values