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Unit of study_

SCPL2601: Australian Social Policy

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

In this unit of study Australian social policy is explored: the legal and administrative framework; relationships between family and the state; employment, unemployment, unpaid work and welfare; the public/private mix; aged care policies, the culture of welfare state provision, indigenous policies, migration, multiculturalism and the formulation and delivery of social welfare services in Australia.

Unit details and rules

Unit code SCPL2601
Academic unit Sociology and Criminology
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in Sociology or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Social Policy or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Socio-legal Studies
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Amanda Elliot,
Lecturer(s) Amanda Elliot,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Tutorial Participation
Engagement and participation in tutorials
10% Ongoing Tutorial Participation
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Essay
35% Week 06
Due date: 28 Mar 2024 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment hurdle task Policy Report
Policy Report
45% Week 11
Due date: 12 May 2024 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Budget Analysis
Budget Brief
10% Week 13
Due date: 26 May 2024 at 23:59
1000 words equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO5
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

Tutorial Participation: Students are assessed on their contributions to tutorials throughout the semester

Essay: Students are required to write a short essay covering material presented in the first 6 weeks of the unit

Policy Report: Students are required to develop and submit a report on a substantive policy area

Budget Brief: Students are required to engage with the 2024-25 Commonwealth Budget and write a briefing note on its key elements


Detailed information for each assessment, including instructions and marking rubrics, can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Grade Descriptors



Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: unacceptable levels of paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; presentation, grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; submitted very late without extension.



Written work contains evidence of minimal reading and some understanding of subject matter, offers descriptive summary of material relevant to the research topic, but may have a tendency to paraphrase; makes a reasonable attempt to organise material logically and comprehensibly and to provide scholarly documentation. There may be gaps in any or all of these areas.


Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading and research, and demonstrates a reasonable understanding of subject matter. Offers a synthesis of relevant material and shows a genuine effort to avoid paraphrasing, has a logical and comprehensible structure and acceptable documentation, and attempts to mount an argument, though there may be weaknesses in particular areas.


Written work contains evidence of a broad and reasonably accurate command of the subject matter and some sense of its broader significance, offers synthesis and some evaluation of material, demonstrates an effort to read broadly, contains clear focus on the principal issues, understanding of relevant arguments and diverse interpretations, and a coherent argument grounded in relevant evidence, though there may be some weaknesses of clarity or structure. Articulate, properly documented.



Written work contains evidence of comprehensive reading, offers synthesis and critical evaluation of material on its own terms, takes a position in relation to various interpretations. In addition, it shows some extra spark of insight or analysis. Demonstrates understanding of broad historical significance, good selection of evidence, coherent and sustainable argument, some evidence of independent thought.


Adequate reading, research, understanding and presentation of subject area, relevant theories and methodologies.  Some evidence of ability to think theoretically as well as empirically, and to conceptualise and problematise issues.  Weaknesses include gaps in research, important unresolved problems and inconsistencies within the argument, deficiencies in clarity, and stylistic lapses.



Sound grasp of subject area, with extensive reading and research; ability to use methodology and theory, evidence of careful and thorough discovery and original use of appropriate sources; competent analysis and evaluation of material; ability to present material clearly and succinctly with a well-thought out argument. Properly documented; writing characterised by style, clarity, and some creativity.

80 to 84

General excellence in subject area without major error or naivete; breadth of knowledge; clear familiarity with and ability to use appropriate methodologies and theories; clear evidence of some independence of thought in the subject area. Makes good attempt to ‘get behind’ the evidence and engages with its underlying assumptions, takes a critical, interrogative stance in relation to political argument and interpretation. Superior written style, clarity and creativity.

High Distinction

85 to 89

As above, but with greater evidence of intellectual independence and more originality of thought. Shows a command of the field both broad and deep, independent intellectual argument and a significant degree of original thought.

90 and above.

Outstanding, demonstrating independent thought throughout, a flair for the subject, and research achievement of a kind that produces at least some work of potentially publishable standard in a serious academic journal.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 02 Key Terms for Social Policy Online class (2 hr) LO1
Key Terms for Social Policy Tutorial (1 hr) LO1
Week 03 What is Social Policy? Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO4
What is Social Policy? Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 04 The Historical Context: War, Depression, The Race Power and the "White Australia Policy" Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
The Historical Context: War, Depression, The Race Power and the "White Australia Policy" Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 05 The Contemporary Context: The Australian Welfare State Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
The Contemporary Context: The Australian Welfare State Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 06 Poverty, Politics and Policy Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Understanding Poverty Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Paid Work and Social Security Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Paid Work and Social Security Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Regulating the Unemployed Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Regulating the Unemployed Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Regulating the Family: Gender, Care and Labour Online class (2 hr) LO3 LO5
Regulating the Family: Gender Care and Labour Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Individualisation and Privatisation - The National Disability Insurance Scheme Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Individualisation and Privatisation - The National Disability Insurance Scheme Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Indigenous Social Policy - Contemporary Perspectives Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Indigenous Social Policy - Contemporary Perspectives Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Understanding the Australian Government Budget Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Budget Briefing Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Where to from here: challenges for Australian social policy in the 21st century Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording:  Weekly lecture recordings and other online content are available to students via the Canvas site for this unit.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction. This means that for three (3) hours of scheduled instruction you should be doing nine (9) hours of preparation time.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Reading is essential for success in this course. The weekly readings, incorporate scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles and book chapters, contemporary public commentary and reports from government and non-government organisations.  

The required readings for each week will thus draw from a range of sources, all of which are published on the Canvas site and are (mostly) available electronically through the Reading List (Leganto) link. 

There may be instances where a direct link to a reading is provided only on the Canvas site (for instance where a recently published media article is added to the suggested readings or online content for the unit). 


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. familiarise yourself with the key institutions and actors involved in developing social policies concerned with income support, unemployment and care in Australia
  • LO2. understand the history, development and restructuring of the Australian welfare state
  • LO3. fluently engage with current debates about the transformation of the Australian welfare state drawing on both substantive policy knowledge and sociological theory
  • LO4. understand and explain the different approaches to justice, needs and rights that underpin different policies in the contemporary and historical contexts
  • LO5. conduct analysis of substantive policy and effectively communicate this.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The teaching team of this unit reviews the curriculum and content every year in order to provide students with a range of themes and learning resources that are engaging and that provide them with opportunities for critical reflection.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.