The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Looks at the Australian State in a wider political context by examining the major changes it has undergone in the last twenty years. The course explores the major reforms to the public service and other government agencies by examining their changing relationship to government. A central question will be whether the public service has become overly politicised such that it is unable to offer the government independent advice. Case studies of specific policy issues in areas such as immigration, education, and defence (or any other topical policy area) will be used to trace the development of major government policy decisions and to explore problems of politicisation and accountability. Attention is also given to the emergence of new policy frameworks, especially economic rationalism, and their impact on these processes.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2020

Learning outcomes

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

1. Develop an understanding of key concepts within Australian public policy and public administration.

2. Identify salient forces and principles shaping the development of public policy within government.

3. Show an enhanced understanding of the relations between the social and economic factors that influence public policy and their impact on government decision-making.

4. Identify and analyse the reliability, validity and efficacy of information, opinions and arguments with the academic literature.

5. Identify and summarise key information within the relevant academic scholarship.

6. Demonstrate the acquisition of core analytical and critical thinking skills in written communication, including the critical evaluation of competing information from academic sources.


The course content will be drawn from but not restricted to

  1. Analysis of Australian political and policy-making structures.
  2. Theories of the state.
  3. Detailed analysis of lines of political accountability.
  4. Discussion of the role of public sector senior bureaucrats, and their politicisation.
  5. Role of ethics within public sector and policy discourse.
  6. Changing public administration paradigms (eg. 'new public sector management', 'governance', 'hollow state' etc).
  7. Role of consultants within the policy process.
  8. Case studies of government enquiries and problems of accountability.


This course has similarities to POLI3180. If you have successfully completed POLI3180 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

10 units in Politics at 1000 level or equivalent

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Research Database Exercise

Essay: Minor Essay

Essay: Major Essay

Formal Examination: Formal Exam

Contact hours


Integrated Learning Session

Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Students are expected to complete 4 hours of guided learning via online preparation, lectures, interactive workshops, tutorials, discussion groups or self-directed learning and an additional 6 hours of independent study per week.