Working Ethically

Subject PADM90009 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: This subject will be delivered intensively from 9:00am - 5:0opm 19 - 21 September 2014.
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours


Admission to the Master of Public Administration program and successful completion of the following subjects The World of Public Administration and at least two of the following: The Nature of Governing, The Rule of Law, Managing Public Finances.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Previous study in public policy, political science, management, law, business, economics, international relations, non-profit management or cognate area.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
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:


Office of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts


Subject Overview:

Working Ethically is one of the core subjects in the Melbourne Master of Public Administration. The Melbourne MPA is an interdisciplinary, globally-focused degree program for managers that work within or with government. This subject is one of three professionally-oriented subjects and it builds on the World of Public Administration and the core discipline subjects to develop the professional skills of participants with a particular focus on ethics.

The course provides students with an advanced understanding of ethics as they apply to the individual in their managerial role, but also in the design and implementation of public outcomes more broadly. This subject situates these challenges in their social, theoretical, historical and disciplinary contexts to provide participants with a strong foundation for their application in practice. The subject draws in particular on key ideas from philosophy to guide participants in working ethically as individual managers and leaders, but also more broadly facing the ethical dilemmas that managers confront in complex policy and governing environments. It will place a particular emphasis on the complex relationship between scientific advancement and the challenges this poses to policy makers and public managers.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • Understand key ethical challenges facing managers in practice and develop an appreciation of how to address them;
  • Acquire knowledge of the social, theoretical, historical and disciplinary factors that underpin ethics in practice;
  • Learn to recognise the distinction between ethically designed institutions and the ethics of action made within given institutional realities;
  • Appreciate how to make decisions and provide advice in complex policy and governing environments.

Assessment Task 1: Practice application paper of 1000 words where students write up a practical issue related to key themes in the subject (20%)due in the week beginning 8 September;

Assessment Task 2: Syndicate project (group presentation and group paper):

  • Group presentation (20%) scheduled during 19-21 September
  • Group paper of 1500 words exploring key aspect of the group presentation (20%) due in the week beginning 6 October

Assessment Task 3: Professional reflection paper of 2500 words where students apply key concepts from the course to the practical issue from assessment task 1 (40%) due in the week beginning 20 October

Hurdle Requirement: As this is an Intensively-taught subject, seminar attendance is compulsory on all 3 days. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Participants are required to read the following prior to commencement of the subject: Jonathan Wolff (2011) Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry, Routledge, New York.

All other readings will be provided via the LMS

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 have:

  • A sound understanding of moral theory and applied ethics and their implications for public management processes and decisions;
  • A high-level ability to combine moral and political theory and professional practice in a meaningful way in order to generate responses to both ethical and managerial challenges;
  • The skills and capabilities to reflect upon professional practice in order to meet ethical challenges at the individual and institutional level;
  • The ability to draw upon an extensive repertoire of advanced professional skills and to apply these skills with an awareness of the ethical implications of strategies and decisions.
Related Course(s): Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)

Download PDF version.