[Summary Course] POL 820 Politics and Policy: An Advanced Introduction

  • Week 1: Intro & Overview

1. How might we define “policy”, and what is distinctive about “public policy”?

2. What do we mean by “politics”? Identify two different definitions of politics in your readings, and consider which of them you find most persuasive.

3. What does the study of political science involve?

4. In what ways do you think policy making can be political?

1. What are the key features of the Australian political system?

2. Identify the three branches of government and explain their roles. How does the separation of powers work in practice?

3. What are the key features of a Westminster system? How has Australia deviated from Westminster historically? Does the Westminster system work effectively in Australia? Why or why not?

4. What are the key features of a federal system such as Australia’s? What impact do you think federalism might have on policy making?

1. What is a policy subsystem? How well does the policy subsystem explain how actors work together in policy making? Can you place your chosen pressure group in the policy subsystem diagram on p. 84 of the Howlett et al. reading?

2. What do community groups and non-government organisations bring to the policy process? How has the relationship between the community or non-government sector and the government changed in recent years?

3. What is a think tank? How do they contribute to the policy making process?

4. What role does the media play in public policy? What mechanisms does the government use to ‘manage’ the media?

1. Compare and contrast pluralist and structuralist understandings of power. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach? Which is more persuasive, in your view?

2. Keeping in mind the discussions from the last two weeks, which state and/or non-state actors exert the most power in the policy making process? What means do they use to exert this power?

3. Consider Lukes’ conceptualisation of power. Apply this to the policy areas of climate change and national security. How is power mobilised by actors in these policy realms? 

  • Week 6: Economics and Public Policy 1: From Keynes to Neo-Liberalism
  • Week 7: Economics and Public Policy 2: Markets and Market Failure
  • Week 8: The Nuts and Bolts of Policy: From Identification to Evaluation
  • Week 9: Governance and Theories and Models of Policy Change
  • Week 10: Reading and Revision Week (No classes this week)
  • Week 11: Economic Policy
  • Week 12: Social and Welfare Policy

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