Critical Approaches to Social Policy

Subject POLS90052 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 6.25
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

March, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 03-Mar-2016 to 10-Mar-2016
Assessment Period End 08-Apr-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 04-Mar-2016
Census Date 11-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 01-Apr-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 12 hours – 2 x 6 hour seminars
Total Time Commitment:

85 Hours


Admission into 101AA Ph.D.- Arts or DR-PHILART Doctor of Philosophy in Arts.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
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 Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Bina Fernandez



Subject Overview:

This PhD elective will introduce critical approaches to the construction and analysis of social policy with particular focus on the developing world, but with relevance to the developed world. The dominant, linear approach to policy as a sequence of ‘design, planning, implementation, and evaluation’ will be critiqued for its failure to recognise the socio-cultural contexts, values and ideologies within which policies are embedded. We will explore the worldviews and assumptions of policy makers, the discursive construction of policy ‘subjects’ through policy labels and language, policy technologies of enumerating, categorising and describing populations and the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity and religion contribute to the success or failure of policies. Case studies using ethnographic and interpretive approaches will be used to throw light on the nature of policy-making and programmes in key social issues: for example, the meanings, measurement and experience of poverty; the construction of ‘indigenous’ peoples and of the ‘household’; the role of ‘local knowledge’ in health policies.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • enhanced knowledge of key terms and concepts used in the analysis of policy in the developing world;
  • an ability to analyse assumptions, norms, ideologies and values that frame policies within particular historical and cultural contexts;
  • advanced capacity to critically assess policies in the developing world;
  • enhanced engagement with leading-edge research in policy research; and
  • an ability to reflect upon their own research work in relation to the content of the module.

1. One 2,500-word essay (100%), due two weeks after the end of teaching.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 100% of classes in order to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

This subject will contribute, through teaching and discussion with academic staff and peers, to developing skills and capacities including those identified in the University-defined Graduate Attributes for the PhD, in particular:

  • the capacity to contextualise research within an international corpus of specialist knowledge;
  • an advanced ability to engage in critical reflection, synthesis and evaluation of research-based and scholarly literature; and
  • an advanced understanding of key disciplinary and multi-disciplinary norms and perspectives relevant to the field.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Doctor of Philosophy - Arts

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