Policy analysis, policy development and policy activism are essential aspects of effective social work practice as they protect the interests of disadvantaged and disempowered people. Social workers increasingly require the knowledge and skills to understand how policies are initiated, designed, resourced, and changed. This involves both an awareness of policy processes in relation to specific areas of social policy and an understanding of theory and concepts relevant to the dynamics of policy processes. This unit of study is designed to assist students to develop transferable skills in social policy analysis. It revisits the policy cycle and the sociopolitical and economic context of Australian social policy as introduced in the units 'Introduction to Social Policy' and 'Social Welfare: History and Current Context'. This unit uses the knowledge and insights of the discipline of social policy, along with political science, economics, sociology, and organisational theory to analyse and interpret policy processes and important areas of social policy.

Unit details

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ASW2013 - Introduction to Social Policy

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate policy development processes and the factors that impact on policy development and implementation;  
  2. Assess the sociopolitical and economic environment within which social policy is developed;  
  3. Plan and undertake social policy research and analysis;  
  4. Exhibit an in-depth understanding of at least one major area of social policy;  
  5. Inquire into and discuss issues in contemporary Australian social policy; and  
  6. Evaluate the relationships between social policy, social research and social work practice.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Assignment Policy analysis paper (800 words) 25%
Assignment Annotated bibliography on chosen policy topic (1000 words) 25%
Essay Policy critique paper (2200 words) 50%

Required reading

Social policy in Australia: understanding for action, Third
McClelland, A & Smyth, P 2014
South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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