Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


This course examines key dimensions of social policy and policy-making, particularly the understanding of social policy as a political process. It looks at the influential and competing ideas that have underpinned the historical and contemporary development of the role of the state in social policy; the links between ideas and sectional 'interests'; the wider factors that drive social policy change; and the distributional consequences of policy change. It examines the role of political actors and governmental institutional architecture in forging the content of social policy and programs and explores the extent to which administrators and practitioners can modify policy in program delivery.



  • Semester 2 - 2022


  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

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

1. Identify policy within a field of human services

2. Analyse the main ideas and values underlying policy

3. Critique the role of government and governance institutions in mediating policy formation

4. Assess and examine the impact of policy on workers, service users and other sections of the population

5. Demonstrate an understanding of the welfare system and its stakeholders


The course will include the following topics:

Part A: Framework

  • Policy/practice interaction
  • The structural context: economic and social inequalities
  • Wider drivers of policy change
  • Ideologies of social policy
  • Disciplinary perspectives
  • Political actors
  • Governmental institutions
  • Social policy and overall public policy budgeting
  • Models of service delivery
  • Competitive tendering and performance measurement regimes
  • Autonomy for human service workers?: professional values and policy constraints
  • ‘Winners and losers’: impacts of policy


Part B: Cases

  • Unemployment and job creation
  • Housing
  • Health
  • Disability and aged: income support and services
  • Who should pay for human services


If you have successfully completed SPSW1002 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Written Assignment: Short Answer Questions - 30%

Online Learning Activity: Online Discussion - Policy analysis - 30%

Essay: Major Essay - 40%

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks starting in week 1



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks starting in week 1

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.