The Fall of Australian Prime Ministers

Subject POLS40019 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is eight hours per week, including 2 hours of class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at undergraduate level.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Mr Petro Georgiou


Mr. Petro Georgiou

Subject Overview:

Australian leadership politics has been described as ‘perhaps the most hard edged and, in a sense brutal amongst the Western democracies’.The course will examine the fall of 3 Prime Ministers – John Gorton, Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd – and the survival of John Howard.One of the key questions considered will be how does a Prime Minister, almost universally regarded as the most powerful actor in our political system, get ousted not by the electorate, but by their own parliamentary party.Comparisons with leaders in other democratic systems will be considered, as well as an examination of the concept of power, the nature of Prime Ministers’ resources, structures, incentives, motives and means by which Prime Ministers are deposed from within.The materials for the course will include memoirs, academic analyses and an analysis of contemporary accounts and reporting.The course will include a seminar series during which key players from Australian political life will discuss their understandings and insights into the fall of a Prime Minister.


On completion of this subject students should:

  • Gain an insight into the dynamics of power at the centre of the Australian Political system;
  • Be able to draw together material from academic, journalistic, biographic, autobiographic sources in understanding of the fall of Australian Prime Ministers.

A 2000 word essay (40%) due during semester, and a 3000 word essay (60%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Students who fail to meet this hurdle requirement will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment for this subject.

Assessment that is submitted after the due date and up to 10 working days late without an approved extension will be marked on a pass/fail basis only. Assessment that is submitted later than 10 working days will not be accepted or marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Reading material will be available to students on line through the subject’s LMS site.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • be able to apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;
  • develop persuasive arguments on a given topic;
  • communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively;
  • develop cross-cultural understanding.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Public Policy and Management
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Political Science
Political Science
Political Science
Politics and International Studies
Public Policy and Management
Public Policy and Management

Download PDF version.