Course Title: Advanced Advocacy and Social Action

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Advanced Advocacy and Social Action

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 1 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019

Course Coordinator: Sonia Martin

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3483

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course teaches advanced advocacy and social action to promote social justice for disadvantaged groups. The context of advocacy work within the welfare state and a range of strategies are explored.

Over the past two decades global capitalism has rapidly expanded and the Australian welfare state—like other welfare states—has contracted. In contrast to the post-war period, public welfare has been reoriented to promote economic development and it is criticised for not protecting human rights or satisfying needs. Welfare recipients (and many others) are under more obligations to demonstrate their deservedness to receive assistance. For many, these changes have been dramatic as well as harmful. To redress these changes and to prevent further disadvantage, advocacy and social action are required.

Advocacy and Social Action is both a theoretical and a practical course: it teaches you to critique social movements and the different concepts of the welfare state they correspond to, and to advocate for social change. The course will explore both the potential and the limitations of advocacy and social action. Different conceptions of power and protest are part of this exploration and the ‘tools’, skills and strategies of advocacy will be examined. Understanding competing interests and building alliances is part of advocacy and will be included in the strategies taught. Ethical issues are also considered. The course will include ‘everyday’ acts of advocacy as well as large scale campaigns. While the main focus is on the Australian welfare state, international projects are also included.

The starting point for this course is a commitment to equity, social justice and human rights. This does not mean that students (or staff) will necessarily agree on issues, practices or principles associated with advocacy and social action; nor will anyone be expected to adhere to a particular school of thought or line of argument. Differences of opinion will arise in discussions and you are expected to treat others with respect when they have different views to your own. You are expected to adopt an adult learning style with active participation in discussions and taking responsibility for your own learning.

Critical reflection is an important part of the course. You will be asked to consider your values, beliefs and attitudes towards advocacy and social action, be this ‘everyday’ organisational advocacy or large scale social action that might include confrontation.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is designed to help students to:

  • Extend their skills in critical analysis;
  • Understand the importance of reflexivity;
  • Further their oral presentation skills;

Course Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the course it is expected that you will be able to: -

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of social movements that lead to different concepts of the welfare state;
  2. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the skills and strategies used in advocacy and social action;
  3. Demonstrate an in-depth awareness of how personal values, beliefs, attitudes and preferred communication styles/practices impact on advocacy and social action work;
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of complex advocacy decisions that include ethics, organisational constraints and legal issues
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of theoretical underpinnings and historical contexts of social action and advocacy in a range of fields
  6. Demonstrate how the practical skills and strategies of advocacy can be applied.

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will include interactive workshop activities focusing on group-based discussion and problem-solving tasks. Course learning materials will be made available in a range of formats, which includes lectures, guest speakers and online media. In workshops you will also develop academic skills including analytical reading and academic writing.

In order to develop your knowledge and skills, you will be expected to participate in interactive discussions and activities and to critically engage with the weekly reading materials. The workshops offer a supportive learning environment where you will have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences, and to learn from the knowledge and experiences of your peers.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be provided with readings and online resources through Canvas.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment in this course aims to engage you intellectually, theoretically and personally. The assessment tasks will develop your understanding of social movements that have shaped the welfare state and welfare provision. You will be required to compare and contrast different social movements and to specify which movements you personally identify with and why. You will also develop your skills in planning and presenting an advocacy project of your choice. You can review and critique an existing advocacy project or plan a new project. You will present a visual display to the class that highlights underpinning values and beliefs, advocacy skills and strategies and any ethical, organisational or legal issues involved.


Assessment task 1:  Workshop Participation (5%)  - CLOs 2,3, 6

Assessment task 2: Teacher Activity (15%) CLOs 2,5, 6

Assessment task 3: Report (30%) CLOs  1,2,4, 5, 6

Assessment task 4: Essay (50%) CLOs  1-6