Social Policy: Special Topics

Subject PPMN90003 (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:

April, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 01-Apr-2016 to 09-Apr-2016
Assessment Period End 28-May-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 01-Apr-2016
Census Date 15-Apr-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

May, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 14-May-2016 to 22-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 16-May-2016
Census Date 27-May-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 10-Jun-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: This subject is taught intensivley, with a different Special Topic in April and May. Each offering will consist of seminars held over 4 days (32 hours).
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Public Policy or Sociology at Undergraduate level

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:


Miss Emily Porter, Prof Shelley Mallett


Emily Porter:

Shelley Mallett:

Subject Overview:


Special Topic: Changing Labour Markets and Social Inequality

Labor markets have undergone substantial changes over the past decades. Trends of globalization, de-industrialization, increasing (youth) unemployment, changing gender roles and demographic ageing have transformed substantially the nature of employment relationships and work in advanced economies. Labor force has become more diverse in the composition of workers – with more women, older workers and immigrants – while more divided by people’s education, race and gender. In this subject we will investigate how changes in the labor market institutions, as well as changes in the organization and composition of workers have produced disparities in careers, wages and labor market dynamics within and across generations over the past decades. To address these issues, the subject combines insights from sociological and economic labour market theory, ranging from classic human capital and job search models to more sociological approaches that emphasize the structure of organizations and institutions within a comparative perspective. We will use this theoretical background to discuss more recent empirical work about e.g., changing work and employment relationships; transformation of job histories and careers; the rising wage and gender inequality; the role of welfare states and institutions; discrimination in the labour market; and the intergenerational transmission of (dis)advantage. Through active in-class discussions, quizzes and exercises students will learn how to interpret labour market theories and critically assess empirical work.


Special Topic: Homeless Youth in Focus

Youth homelessness emerged as a social issue in the 1980s. Since then, reduced full-time employment opportunities for school leavers and rising housing costs have reshaped the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

But what is the problem? How do young people become homeless? What factors are to blame: Social and economic policies, family breakdown, or young people's risk-taking behaviour? How have changes in the youth transition impacted on young people's pathways in and out of homelessness?

What role do governments and other policy practitioners play in managing youth homelessness? How can social research be applied to improve policy design and program delivery? Which policy frameworks make a difference? What are the key challenges faced by practitioners and service providers?

Taking youth homelessness as a case study, this subject aims to equip students with the critical and practical skills necessary to make a positive contribution to contemporary social policy. Integrating conceptual and programmatic insights it will not merely ground students in the policy context under study, but also enhance their professional capacity to apply this knowledge to broader practice.

During the course students will visit the Education First Youth Foyer at the Kangan Institute in Broadmeadows.

Learning Outcomes:


Upon successful completion of this subject students are expected to:

  • Name, define and interpret basic concepts and components of labor market theories;
  • Have a critical understanding of the sources and consequences of changing labour markets for individuals working lives, their employment opportunities and the fortunes of their families;
  • Reflect upon and critically discuss recent empirical work;
  • Provide a thorough and critical analysis of literature on this topic.

  • A research paper of 1000 words, on a question as guided by the subject co-ordinator (20%) due 2 weeks after the delivery of the subject.
  • A research essay of 4000 words, on a question as guided by the subject co-ordinator (80%) due 8 weeks after the delivery of the subject.

Hurdle requirement: As this is an Intensively-taught subject, Lecture/Seminar attendance is compulsory for all classes. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

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 demonstrate competence in critical, creative and theoretical thinking through essay writing, seminar discussion and presentations, conceptualising theoretical problems, forming judgments and arguments from conflicting evidence, and by critical analysis;
  • be able to demonstrate proficiency in the application of policy analysis skills to empirical problems;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the academic protocols of research and presentation.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
100 Point Master of Social Policy
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Social Policy
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of Social Policy
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Public Policy and Management
PD-ARTS Public Policy and Management

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