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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Online Scheduled


SOCS200 All the Feels Emotions Society Culture OR SOCS201 Social Justice and the New Economy OR SOCS202 Culture: Rights, Representation, Resistance OR SOCS206 Globalisation, Religion and Modernity OR SOCS207 Meaning of Life: Researching Qualitatively OR SOCS208 The Power of Social Connection: Social Capital Revealed OR SOCS209 Race and Ethnicity: Australian and Global Perspectives OR SOCS226 Global Youth Cultures OR SOCS234 Sociological Theory and Practice OR SOCS235 Health, Illness and Wellbeing OR SOCS239 Sociology of Gender and Sexuality OR SOCS243 Global Health OR SOCS244 Difference and Diversity: Social and Sexual Health OR HIST251 Human Rights in History

Unit rationale, description and aim

Sociologists are often called upon to critically analyse policies and develop policy briefs. To do this, they critically review, analyse, summarise and synthesise sociological scholarship including research using quantitative and qualitative data, drawing together information to devise policies that are instrumental in shaping people's lives. Students will explore how contemporary issues, wealth, power and politics shape policy and how organisations, welfare, and citizenship underpin social change and stability.

The unit provides students with a critical understanding of social issues and policy and introduces the context, development, process and challenges of social policy in contemporary society. The aim of the unit is to develop an understanding of theoretical approaches, key concepts, skills and research techniques which underpin current debates relevant to social issues and effective policy development.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe a sociological understanding of the nature of social relationships and institutions; patterns of social diversity and inequality; and processes that underpin social issues and policyGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC11, GC12
LO2Develop arguments by using evidence, evaluating competing explanations, and drawing conclusionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO3Communicate sociological ideas, principles and knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriate formatsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO4Apply sociological theories, concepts and evidence in examining social issues and policyGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC11, GC12
LO5Critically review, analyse, summarise and synthesise social issues and policy using quantitative and/or qualitative dataGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


Topics will include:

  • Welfare and citizenship: The policy context
  • Power and Politics: How policy is shaped 
  • Wealth and its Constraints: Policy implementation
  • Wealth and its Power: The role of organised entities
  • Sociological research and knowledge in policy formation
  • Contemporary issues in policy analysis and development
  • Family Issues in Policy
  • Drug Issues in Policy
  • Environmental Issues in Policy
  • Theoretical approaches to social issues and policy

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit’s learning and teaching strategy is based on the delivery of lectures and student participation in tutorials. Lectures provide students with expert knowledge of unit material organized in terms of theoretical approaches, case material and problem-solving. Lectures provide students with opportunities to learn relevant theoretical approaches and case material in order to develop the skills required to research social issues, scope possible policy initiatives and develop policy briefs. To do this, students need to be able to independently seek additional readings, evidence and other sources. Tutorials provide students with opportunities for active participation in learning through discussion and debate, preparing and delivering oral presentations and raising questions directed to further exploration of topics.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks for the unit are designed to encourage and contribute to student learning and at the same time to ascertain the success of the learning process. Assessments are designed to meet unit learning outcomes and encourage the development of graduate outcomes. A variety of tasks are undertaken by students enrolled in the unit in order to develop skills appropriate to a third-year study in sociology. Assessment Task 1 provides students with opportunities to critically examine different theoretical approaches to social policy. Assessment Task 2 allows students to critically examine social policy and provide recommendations. Assessment Task 3 provides students with opportunities to research and develop a project which examines social issues and revise or formulate policy.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Critical Reflections

Students will critically examine different theoretical approaches to social policy. This may be in the form of an exam, take-home exam, quizzes or written reading reflection, as set by the lecturer.


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2: Policy Brief

A policy brief is a concise statement provided to a minister or senior bureaucrat who needs a summary of all the key elements of a situation in relation to a policy that can be subject to intervention. In this assessment task, students will identify a social policy and provide scoping recommendations in an oral presentation with an accompanying written document. The policy brief must include the identification of a policy requiring attention and a sociological assessment of the basis of an intervention. The policy brief scaffolds to assessment task 3.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 3: Research Project

Policy is typically developed through a long process of research and discussion. This research project develops from assessment task 2. Students will extensively research the issue identified in the Policy Brief and critically examine it in terms of a sociological framework. The written project will discuss the policy issue in terms of its sociological background and also in terms of the sociological implications of the proposed policy. The project will also include a statement of the rationale for the proposed policy. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references


Baldock, J. (2012). Social policy (Fourth edition). Oxford University Press.  

Blau, J., & Abramovitz, M. (2014). The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy. Oxford University Press.  

DiNitto, D.M., & Johnson, D.H. (2016). Social welfare: politics and public policy (Eighth edition). Pearson.  

Fitzpatrick, T. (2011). Welfare theory: an introduction to the theoretical debates in social policy (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.  

Jamrozik, A. (2009). Social policy in the post-welfare state: Australian society in a changing world (Third edition.). Pearson Education Australia.  

Jimenez, J.A. et al. (2014). Social Policy and Social Change: Toward the Creation of Social and Economic Justice. Sage.  

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2019). Social problems: community, policy and social action (Sixth edition.). SAGE Publications, Inc.  

McClelland, Smyth, P., & Marston, G. (2021). Social policy in Australia: understanding for action .(McClelland, P. Smyth, & G. Marston, Eds.; Fourth edition.). Oxford University Press.  

Reisch, M. (2019). Social policy and social justice: meeting the challenges of a diverse society (Third edition.). Cognella Academic Publishing. 

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