Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


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

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.

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

LO1 - Demonstrate a sociological understanding of the nature of social relationships and institutions; patterns of social diversity and inequality; and processes that underpin social issues and policy (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA10)

LO2 - Demonstrate an ability to develop arguments by using evidence, evaluating competing explanations, and drawing conclusions (GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO3 - Demonstrate an ability to communicate sociological ideas, principles and knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriate formats (GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO4 - Demonstrate an ability to apply sociological theories, concepts and evidence in examining social issues and policy (GA1, GA3, GA6) 

LO5 - Demonstrate an ability to critically review, analyse, summarise and synthesise social issues and policy using quantitative and/or qualitative data (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6)

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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


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 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 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. Assignment 1 provides students with opportunities to critically examine different theoretical approaches to social policy. Assignment 2 allows students to critically examine social policy and provide recommendations. Assignment 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 OutcomesGraduate Attributes

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 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

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 assignment students will identify a social policy and provide scoping recommendations in an oral presentation with an accompanying written document. The policy brief must include identification of a policy requiring attention and a sociological assessment of the basis of an intervention. The policy brief scaffolds to Assignment 3.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Research Project

Policy is typically developed through a long process of research and discussion. This research project develops from Assignment 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 rationale for the proposed policy. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references


Baldock, J. et al. (2011) Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

DiNitto D. M. and Johnson, D.H. (2015) Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy (8th Edition). London: Pearson.

Fitzpatrick, T. 2011) Welfare Theory: an Introduction to the Theoretical Debates in Social Policy (2nd edition). London: Palgrave McMillan

Jamrozik, A. (2009) Social Policy in the Post-Welfare State: Australian Society in a Changing World (3rd edition) Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

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

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2018) Social Problems: Community, Policy, and Social Action. Singapore: Sage.

McLelland, A. and Smyth, P. (eds) (2010) Social Policy in Australia Understanding for action. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Reisch, M. (2018) Social Policy and Social Justice: Meeting the Challenges of a Diverse Society. London: Sage.

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