Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding Australian politics and government is central to a range of important conversations in Australian society relating to citizenship, public policy and national identity. This unit provides an introduction to politics and government in Australia. It focuses on the formal political system, examining parliament, the executive, the constitution, federalism, elections, parties and the public service. It also examines the role of the Australian media, on citizen's activism and engagement, and the key ideological and theoretical arguments shaping politics in Australia.

The overall aim of this unit is to acquaint students with the concepts and skills necessary to analyse the institutions, policies, and key issues in Australian politics.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the nature and significance of Australian politics and governance (GA5) 

LO2 - Critically discuss diverse political perspectives in Australia, particularly with respect to marginalised, disadvantaged, and vulnerable peoples and communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. (GA1) 

LO3 - Apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of political science to the analysis of Australian politics in a way that informs students’ own practices of engaged citizenship (GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

LO4 - Demonstrate the capacity to gather and analyse ethical solutions to political problems through evidence-based argument and evaluation of secondary sources (GA10) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


  • Liberal democracy and Australian political culture 
  • The three tiers of government and the federal system 
  • Parliaments 
  • Executive governments and the Governor-General 
  • The Public Service and bureaucracy 
  • The Constitution 
  • The High Court 
  • The Electoral system and voting behavior 
  • Political Parties 
  • Extra-parliamentary political forces: interest groups and lobbying 
  • The media in Australian politics 
  • Concrete examples of contemporary political issues in reference to the functions and problems of the topics listed above including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit employs two formal ways of learning and teaching. Lectures are structured to promote case-based learning, a format that involves collaborative deep learning. Students will explore real world challenges and problems, a process that requires them to demonstrate their investigative, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Case-based learning requires learning specific theories and concepts that will complement the conceptual tools and theoretical knowledge critical to analysing divergent approaches to Australian politics. 

Tutorials for this unit provide students opportunities for active learning. Students will engage in activities including reading, writing, interrogating ideas, exploring case studies, doing role plays, debating, and giving presentations. These activities, as well as promoting analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of lecture content, are designed to build skills appropriate to first year study in Politics and International Relations. 

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. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit have been designed to contribute to high quality student learning by both helping students learn (assessment for learning), and by measuring explicit evidence of their learning (assessment of learning). Assessments have been developed to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These have been designed so that they use a variety of tasks to measure the different learning outcomes at a level suitable for first year study in politics and international relations. The descriptive task requires students to demonstrate knowledge of the key institutional arrangements of the Australian political system through a group presentation in the seminars. The written task develops students’ skills to research and write an essay critically analysing how the Australian political system responds to key social, cultural, economic or environmental challenges. The final exam requires students to demonstrate their understanding of the topics covered in this unit through a take-home exam. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1: Descriptive Task 

Require students to demonstrate knowledge of the key institutional arrangements of the Australian political system through a group presentation in the seminars on an assigned topic 




Assignment 2: Written Analytical Task 

Students are required to research and write an essay critically analysing how the Australian political system responds to key social, cultural, economic or environmental challenges. This essay (and an essay plan, handed in earlier in the semester) will address a question from a set of challenges that will change slightly each year depending on current political debates in Australian politics. 


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Assignment 3: Final exam (Take-home exam) 

Students are required to undertake a final formal examination to demonstrate their understanding of the topics covered in this unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Appleby, Gabrielle, Nicholas Aroney, and Thomas John (eds). (2014). The Future of Australian Federalism: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 

Bach, S. (2003). Platypus and Parliament: The Australian Senate in Theory and Practice. ACT: Department of the Senate. 

Cook, I., Walsh, M. and Harwood, J. (2nd ed.). (2008). Government and Democracy in Australia.  Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

Craven, G. (2004). Conversations with the Constitution: Not Just a Piece of Paper. Sydney: UNSW Press. 

Edwards L. (2012). The Passion of Politics: the role of ideology and political theory in Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. 

Gauka, A. et al (Eds.) (2018). Double Disillusion: The 2016 Australian Federal Election. Canberra: ANU Press. 

Kefford, G. et al (2018). Australian Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

McNair, B. et al (2017). Politics, Media and Democracy in Australia : Public and Producer Perceptions of the Political Public Sphere. London: Routledge. 

Singleton, G., Aitkin D., Jinks, B. and Warhurst, J. (10th ed.). (2012). Australian Political Institutions. Sydney: Pearson. 

Ward, I. and Stewart, R.G. (4th ed.). (2010). Politics One. Melbourne: Palgrave Macmillan. 

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