Course Title: Sociology of Social Problems

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Sociology of Social Problems

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016

Course Coordinator: Dr Sharon Andrews

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 8239

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Public policy often responds to issues that are labelled ‘social problems’ that must be ‘solved’ by government. In this you will explore the ways in which social problems become defined. This includes an exploration of the different worldviews and theoretical perspectives that shape how we see social problems and the effects of different ways of defining social problems across time and space.

Through learning to analyze how issues are problematized, you will gain insights into the social framing of contemporary policy initiatives. A key objective is to foster a critical understanding of the dynamic relationship between the construction of social problems and the policy responses we develop to address these.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply sociological theories to interpret the way in which certain social issues are labelled problems requiring policy responses
  • Reflect on the role that ‘representations’ and cultural ‘constructions’ play in our framing of social problems across a number of areas
  • Critically analyse how the design of specific policy initiatives has been influenced by the representation of the problem they are meant to solve

You will be assessed on your development of the following program learning outcomes:

  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on complex theories, evidence and modes of reasoning, both local and international, and challenge knowledge and practice in public policy
  • Engage in logical and persuasive written communication and public presentations, and confidently debate, and critique policy documents

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves a range of face to face and online activities such as lectures, tutorials, group and class discussion, group activities and individual research.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment may include a combination of presentations, individual and group participation as well as academic essays. Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks. 

  • If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
  • A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: