Course Title: Communication and Public Policy Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Communication and Public Policy Development

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


335H Applied Communication


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009

Course Coordinator: Grant Roff

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3129

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 4.2.18

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course provides a theoretical and practical framework for students to engage with the communication elements of the social/public policy process. While the focus is on public policy development in liberal democracies (notably Australia), attention is also given to the process in neo-democratic and autocratic political systems. Increasingly, professional communication practices are being employed to shape and direct debate in the public policy area. This course identifies these practices and deconstructs them to provide a clearer understanding of the process and an introductory guide to practical engagement. Significant use is made of contemporary case studies.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course aims to provide an historical and contemporary understanding of the role communications industries play in the development of public policy. At the conclusion of the course, participants should be able:
To identify the key processes involved in the development of public policy in democratic and non-democratic political system;
To understand the structure and workings of the political systems which legislate on and implement public policy;
To engage with contemporary debate on issues which have public policy implications;
To recognise the professional communication contribution to public policy debate and be able to unpick its myriad meanings;
To identify points of entry for activists for effective contributions to the public policy process;
To reflect on the role of the communications industries in the shaping of societies and political economies.

see above

Overview of Learning Activities

Lectures will introduce participants to the key issues of the course. These will be delivered by the lecturer and selected guest lecturers. Tutorials will offer an occasion for detailed examination of the course material and relevant reading, and participants will have the opportunity to lead discussions.

Overview of Learning Resources

The prescribed text is Parkin, A.,Summers, J., and Woodward, D., Government, Politics, Power and Policy in Australia. Pearson/Longman, 2006.
The supplementary text for tutorials is Wright, T (Ed), Time for Change – Australia in the 21st Century, Hardie Grant Books, 2006.
Both texts are available from RMIT Bookshop. The texts will be complemented by lecture and tutorial handouts.

Overview of Assessment

Participants will select a topic from a range of options and, in small groups, lead a tutorial discussion. Written assessment tasks will include a situational analysis and a deconstruction of a contemporary social/public policy issue which identifies key participants, their agendas and communication practices. There will also be an exam in this course which will be based entirely on material delivered in the lecture program.