Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


1000 level

Course handbook


Focuses on the 'nuts and bolts' of the system of government and the political process in Australia. The course examines how the major institutions are supposed to work in theory and how they work in practice. A secondary theme is the way in which the form and operation of government is shaped by political forces representing wider social and economic interests and how, in turn, these pressure groups and wider interests are effected by the form of government. The course explores the extent to which the system is democratic, whether some parts of government are more powerful than others and whether there are too many or too few checks and balances on executive power. Examples of policy issues will be used to illustrate the workings of the political process.


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. A basic knowledge of the theory and practice of the Australian governmental system

2. The ability to analyse the interrelationship between this political and governmental system and outside pressure groups, interests and forces

3. The ability to identify and evaluate proposals for change in the structure and functioning of political and governmental institutions in Australia.

4. The ability to draw on basic theories within political science to characterise formal and informal political institutions in Australia

5. The ability to effectively communicate the analysis referred to in first three objectives.


  1. The Machinery of Government (5 weeks): eg Parliament and responsible government; the executive and the bureaucracy; federalism and the High Court; the electoral system
  2. The Political Parties (2 weeks):
  3. Pressure Groups and Political Attitudes (4 weeks): eg business and unions; social movements; the mass media; voting behaviour.
  4. Theories of democracy and power: which best fits the Australian system? (2 weeks).

Assessment items

Essay: Essay

Formal Examination: Exam (end of semester)

Presentation: Tutorial presentation and paper

Participation: Participation in weekly tutorials