The Nature of Governing

Subject PADM90005 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

February, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 15-Apr-2016
Assessment Period End 05-May-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 09-Mar-2016
Census Date 18-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 15-Apr-2016


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 contact hours: 4 hours per week in weeks 1 to 6 of Semester 1,
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission to the Master of Public Administration and formal enrolment in the subject The World of Public Administration

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
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:

Subject Overview:

The Nature of Governing 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 sets out the foundations of governing for public outcomes and examines how government and governing institutions have evolved over time and in various settings to meet political and policy challenges, and the implications of this for public managers.

This subject provides students with the theoretical concepts and analytical tools to understand the nature and practice of governing and government in a globalizing world. Its focus is on the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public administration. It draws mainly from the disciplines of political science and international relations, and from related disciplines such as sociology and political economy. Its core objective is to help participants to understand how the political environment (comprised of institutions, ideas and actors) and the practice of politics, constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy. This political environment is simultaneously local, national, international and global and includes elections and appointment procedures, interconnected policymaking institutions, multiple accountability mechanisms, delegation and independent agencies, interest groups, civil society and public opinion. The subject explores the great diversity of these political processes, actors and institutions and assesses how the practice of politics shapes the work of public managers across a range of practical and topical policy domains. The international dimension of this political environment has become ever more important and particular attention will be paid to the influence of international negotiations and agreements, international organizations, global standard setting bodies, international policy learning and diffusion, transnational private sector and civil society actors on the work that public managers do.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • Understand how the political environment constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy and governing;
  • Acquire knowledge of the theoretical concepts and analytical tools needed to analyse this evolving political environment;
  • Understand the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public policymaking and administration;
  • Appreciate the expanding impact of the international dimensions of policy, including how this environment shapes and enables the work of public managers within countries
  • Understand the potential and pitfalls of international policy diffusion and learning.

Assessment Task 1: An issues paper of 1000 words where students identify and address an issue relevant to their work experience or interests that relates to a key governance theme (20%) due in the week beginning 22 February;

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

  • Group presentation during the subject (20%) during period 29 February to 8 April
  • Individual paper of 1500 words exploring key aspect of the group presentation (20%) due one week after the scheduled presentation

Assessment Task 3: Case paper of 2500 words where students apply key concepts from the course to the issue identified in assessment task 1 (40%) due in the week beginning 2 May.

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

All 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 critical understanding of the operation of governments in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and across the world, and of the way in which the political environment affects the work of public managers;
  • A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity of international relations, and an ability to collaborate effectively with other domestic and international actors and institutions;
  • A high-level ability to combine the theory and practice of governing in order to address the managerial challenges that result from the operation of government;
  • A high-level ability to connect professional skills in public administration with discipline based expertise in political science, international relations and cognate disciplines;
  • Well-developed interpersonal and communication skills necessary to a range of professional activities including report writing, workplace discussions and lobbying strategies;
  • Flexible communication skills with a highly attuned sensitivity to a diverse audience, and to the issues specific to cross-cultural communication.

Note: 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.

Related Course(s): Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Specialist Certificate in Public Administration

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