Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


Most of us experience the policy process post hoc. It is something done to us, by rich elites, shady politicians, and faceless bureaucrats. It often feels remote and obscure, even threatening. This unit aims to demystify public policy by examining the way that policy is made in contemporary societies. We start from the position that public policy is like any other human activity: it is the product of interests, conflicts, alliances, and inequalities between people. By the end of this unit you will be able understand and analyse these relationships at an advanced level.

The unit adopts the theory of fields in order to make sense of the wealth of materials, theories, and case studies published on public policy. We will explore policy making through key theories in the study of public policy and profiling the key ‘players' in the game of public policy, paying particular attention to their strategies and interests. The unit is will also offer a detailed case study on a particular struggle within policy making – the appropriate place of evidence in policy. In sum, this unit provides you with the analytical tools to conceptualise and critique the specific figurations that produce ‘policy'.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequence
  • Level 2 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate advanced knowledge of public policy making; (2) critically explain the key actors and institutions involved in contemporary public policy; (3) demonstrate the ability to analyse how these actors produce, challenge and express policy preferences; (4) evaluate the extent to which theories of the policy process clarify or obscure our understanding of public policy; and (5) effectively communicate knowledge, ideas, analyses and arguments about public policy through oral and written formats.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) written assignments; (2) tutorial presentation and participation; and (3) analytical assignment. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Hang Duong (00109271)
Unit rules
12 points of Social Sciences and/or Humanities study at level 1
POLS3301 Public Policy
Advisable prior study
Ideally students should have studied level 1 units of the Major
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.