POLIS 2105 - Issues in Australian Politics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course covers key political and policy issues for the 21st century. It particularly focuses on issues of economic, social and technological change and their practical political implications in fields ranging from economics, foreign relations and the media to health and welfare. In the process, the course also deals with issues such as globalisation and the role of the nation state; the influence of international issues on Australian Politics e.g. the impact of changing geopolitics on Australian relations with the U.S. and Asia; the ongoing global financial crisis; the role of liberalism and social democracy; the new information economy; genetic engineering; the politics of identity e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, religion and the politics of sexuality; the politics of film and news media; environmental politics and climate change; new forms of inequality; the politics of emotion and the politics of fear and uncertainty. The course draws on relevant analytical and theoretical frameworks and encourages students to follow up their own research interests, including relevant ones not formally covered in the course.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 2105
    Course Issues in Australian Politics
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites 12 units of Level I Humanities/Social Sciences courses
    Incompatible POLI 2071, POLI 2105, POLI 3071
    Assessment Tutorial paper 1250 words, Major Essay 3250 words
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Emerita Professor Carol Johnson

    Course Lecturer/Co-ordinator: Prof. Carol Johnson.
    Carol’s Room: 405 Napier Building.
    Tel: 83135809.
    e-mail: carol.johnson@adelaide.edu.au (I’d be grateful if you could check the Course Outline and the course material on MyUni to see if the answer is there before e-mailing me since this will speed up my ability to reply to essential queries).
    Consultation time: unable to confirm at time of posting — see My Uni contact details

    See My Uni for more information.
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Analyse the major concepts and debates in political thinking relating to issues in Australian Politics
    2 Understand the relevant social, historical, economic, ideological and international context and constraints in which those debates occur and political institutions function.
    3 Understand a range of approaches to issues in Australian Politics and reflect critically on the character of political concepts and issues
    4 Engage confidently in written and oral public debate in a range of social and cultural settings
    5 Communicate and cooperate in a range of group activities
    6 Undertake independent research in the field of Australian Politics
    7 Produce analytically sophisticated, well substantiated and cogently argued written material
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 6, 7
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 3, 4,5,6,7
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 4,5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 6
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 6
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 4, 7
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2,3,5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is no suitable textbook. We produce Issues in Australian Politics Tutorial Readings. These can be obtained from the Image and Copy Centre in the Hughes Building (see MyUni for more information regarding availability and price). Students may also find that the following books provide useful background reading but they are not required to be purchased: Rodney Smith, Ariadne Vromen and Ian Cook, Contemporary Politics in Australia: Theories, Practices and Issues (Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2012); Andrew Scott, Politics, Parties and Issues in Australia: An Introduction, (Pearson Education Australia, Melbourne, 2009); Narelle Miragliotta, Wayne Errington and Nicholas Barry, The Australian Political System in Action, (Oxford University Press, Sydney, 2nd edition, 2013); Sarah Maddison and Richard Denniss, An Introduction to Australian Public Policy: Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2009); Students are expected to stay in touch with current developments via consulting media sources (electronic, visual and print) and government and political party websites.
    Recommended Resources
    There is an extensive reading List available on MyUni, which also provides key information regarding how to find additional sources.
    Online Learning
    Copies of lecture slides and recordings, the course Reading List and some additional materials will be posted on MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The key teaching & learning mode is lectures supported by problem-solving tutorials developing material covered in the lectures via a process of analysis, discussion and debate.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students undertaking a Humanities and Social Sciences subject such as Issues in Australian Politics are expected to spend at least 156 hours work per semester on the subject, of which 36 hours are allocated for attending classes (lectures and tutorials). So that leaves 120 hours to be allocated to this subject across the semester. We would expect students to spend approximately 2-3 hours each week preparing for their tutorials (say 33 hours in total). We would expect students to spend at least 10 hours researching and answering their bibliographic assignment (it may be more depending upon the difficulty of your topic and how advanced you are with your essay preparation – remember this work feeds directly into your major essay but is only meant to be an initial go at looking for sources). That leaves approx. 77 hours, of which we suggest approximately 27 hours should be spent researching, thinking about and writing your tutorial paper and approximately 50 hours should be spent researching, thinking about and writing your essay (though less if you spent more time on your bibliographic assignment). Precisely how you break those figures down further will depend upon your topic, the speed with which you write etc.etc.. However, do allocate sufficient time to polish your written drafts. How much time you spend in particular weeks will also depend on your other commitments but we would urge you to spend at least some time every week in finding and collecting research material for your written assignments.

    These figures can only be approximate and you should use your own judgment. However, they do at least give you some idea of the time commitment we expect from you. Note that we expect full-time students to be organising their employment and leisure activities, as much as possible, around their university commitments – not the other way round! In particular, we suggest you work out a careful plan for the semester which allocates your time in advance and takes into account that many of your final assignments, exams etc will invariably be due around the same date.
    Learning Activities Summary
    WEEK Lecture Tutorial
    ONE Organisational plus the politics of uncertainty/fear Organisational plus key issues
    TWO Globalisation, GFC, political economy. Also hints on bibliographic exercise (2nd Lecture) The politics of uncertainty/fear
    THREE Neo-liberalism, Keynes and markets-includes health and welfare Globalisation, GFC, political economy
    FOUR Racial and ethnic issues Neo-liberalism, Keynes and markets-includes health and welfare
    FIVE Politics of gender (Also essay writing hints, 2nd lecture) Racial and ethnic issues
    SIX Politics of Sexuality; Censorship Politics of gender
    SEVEN Technology & government (includes biotech and health) Politics of Sexuality; Censorship
    EIGHT Politics of film & television Technology & government (includes biotech and health)
    NINE News media & public sphere Politics of film & television
    TEN Environmental issues News media & public sphere
    ELEVEN Summary & Assessment Environmental Issues
    TWELVE Essay consultations course coordinators  office Summary/Essay consultations
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Please note that tutorials are a crucial part of this course that enable you to engage with other students, as well as your teachers,  in learning about key issues in Australian politics.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Students are required to produce 1 bibliographic exercise, 1 essay and 1 tutorial paper. These are all summative forms of assessment i.e. contribute to your final result in this subject.

    Tutorial participation - 10%
    Source/Bibliography exercise – 5% (Due beginning week five - exact date on MyUni).
    Tutorial papers - Approx 1,250 words, 30% (Due one week after verbal presentation).
    Essays (Research Projects)- approx. 3,250 words, 55% (Due end week thirteen - exact date on MyUni).

    Further information regarding your bibliographic assignment, tutorial and essay (research project) topics will be posted on My Uni.

    A lengthy Reading List will also be available on MyUni

    Please note that the above word lengths DO NOT INCLUDE your footnotes and bibliography.
    Students should aim to meet the above word lengths, however, they are only approximate. Nonetheless, it is most unlikely that a piece of work substantially under these lengths would be of adequate standard. Note that this course does not have a policy of automatically deducting marks for students who go over the word length for the above assignments. However, marks will be deducted if e.g. students “waffle” and do not have a tightly structured argument. We will also endeavour to ensure that students who go massively over the word lengths are not unfairly advantaged over students who have kept to the above word lengths.

    See later in this outline for information regarding the grading system used and what to do if you disagree with a mark.

    You'll also find information regarding citation styles, footnotes, quotation marks, plagiarism etc. later in this outline.

    You’ll find information regarding how to submit work, apply for extensions and penalties for late work later in this outline.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    TUTORIAL ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY and attendance in your group is included in your tutorial participation mark. If you do not attend regularly, your tutor can refuse to accept your essays and tutorial papers so that you fail the subject. If you miss more than two tutorials per semester, you should give your tutor an adequate explanation in writing (e-mail is a good form) or marks will be deducted from your tutorial participation grade. If your tutorial attendance is poor, your tutor will give you a low mark for tutorial participation, even if they do allow you to submit work.
    Assessment Detail

    Tutorial participation - role of all students in group: All students are expected to read the tutorial reading for each week and to participate in the general discussion on the topics covered in those readings. It is not sufficient to just talk generally about the topic in tutorials, you also need to show your tutor that you have read the readings for that week and can critically engage with them. In addition, every student attending a tutorial should come to the tutorial prepared with either (a) a brief (i.e. two to three line) written comment on one of the tutorial readings or (b) a written question arising specifically from one of the tutorial readings — and be prepared to elaborate on this in class. Normally you will just be expected to incorporate these in your spoken contributions but you may be asked to hand the written document up, so please have your name on top in case. 
    Remeber tutorial attendance is compulsory.

    Role of the student presenting the tutorial paper: In addition to participating in tutorials, you will be required to produce one tutorial paper per semester. Tutorial topics will be allocated in the first tutorial of the semester, so come with preferences worked out. Once you are allocated a topic it is your responsibility to do two things:

    (1.) You need to introduce the discussion of that tutorial topic to your group in the week it is scheduled for. Your own spoken contribution should be between 5 and 7 minutes duration — the latter is an absolute maximum to allow time for discussion, and talking for more than this may result in marks being deducted. You can speak to the paper in a number of ways. You can: (a) discuss the main points of your paper (b) organise a tutorial discussion around 4-6 questions arising from the tutorial topic and which you wish the group to address (c) read out a written paper (d) allocate differing political positions for other students and your tutor to role-play or (e) some combination of the above. Whatever you decide to do, try to stimulate an interesting exchange of information and views.

    (2.) Your presentation will influence your tutorial participation mark (but note that that is assessed taking into account your participation in all tutorials during the semester – and an excellent presentation will not stop you being marked down for poor participation in other classes). Your presentation can also influence your tutorial paper mark in borderline cases but your tutorial paper mark will be mainly judged on the written version of the paper, which should be handed up within seven days after your verbal presentation. The written paper should take the form of a formally written short essay, answering the tutorial question set for the week.

    See the submissions section for details of how to hand it in, extensions and penalties for late work. See summary of assessment section for word length.

    Tutorial papers should be based on wider reading than just the set readings for that week — see the reading list on MyUni. Remember that the tutorial paper is worth 30%. Tutorial papers or essays handed up without proper footnotes will not normally be accepted for marking. If the lack of referencing constitutes plagiarism (see later in this outline), the work will be dealt with following the procedures set out in the university’s plagiarism policies/guidelines. It is your responsibility to provide proper referencing as set out in the Essay Writing Instructions that are mentioned above — indeed that is one of the things you are being assessed on.


    A detailed list of tutorial questions will be available on My Uni. 

    Two copies of the Australian Politics Tutorial Readings will be available on Reserve (the number is limited by library policy).


    Don’t forget the Reading List on My Uni!!!!!


    The Sources/Bibliographic assignment is due to be handed in by the beginning of week five (exact date on My Uni). You will find an electronic copy of the assignment posted on MyUni. Assignments should be submitted as set out in the instructions on My Uni.

    You should obtain a copy of the Politics Department's Essay Writing Instructions from http://www.hss.adelaide.edu.au/historypolitics/students/undergraduate/resources.html before starting work on your assignment, essay and tutorial paper and should read it again before you start writing. Please note that we require footnotes, rather than the Harvard (brackets) system in this course, because footnotes are easier for markers to consult and work better for citing politicians’ speeches and government documents (e.g. you may be citing large numbers of speeches by a politician that were produced in the same year, so the author/date system is difficult to use).

    The DUE DATE for essays is due the end of week thirteen (exact date on MY Uni) . See the submissions section and My Uni  for information on method of submission, how to apply for an extension and penalties for late work..


    The Politics Discipline Essay Writing Instructions, available from http://www.hss.adelaide.edu.au/historypolitics/students/undergraduate/resources.html, give full details of how to use other people's material properly and how to avoid plagiarism. I will also post additional information on My Uni. (Note that we require students to use footnotes as their referencing system in this course, rather than the Harvard system of references in brackets, because that is easier for marking and better for citing politicians’ speeches and government documents — see above. However, you may use short titles for subsequent references, rather than op.cit or ibid. if you wish) i.e. author’s surname, short title, p. no (as long as your first footnote gives the full details) as per below:

    For example, the first reference would be

    Julia Baird, Media Tarts: how the Australian press frames female politicians. Melbourne: Scribe 2004, p. 10

    Subsequent references

    Baird, Media Tarts, p. 12

    Please include a separate bibliography of references cited – you can also add a separate list of references consulted but not cited if you wish.

    When citing internet sources please give as much of the following information as possible: author and/or organization , title, organization/publisher, date of speech or document if available, web address, date you consulted the source.

    If you have queries regarding how to cite material that are not answered by the above, please consult Snooks & Co, Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edn, rev (Snooks & Co., John Wiley & Sons, Canberra, 2002).

    Plagiarism is a very serious offence and involves major integrity and academic honesty issues. It is the academic equivalent of fraud, e.g. embezzling funds, and is treated accordingly. We need to be able to assess how well YOU have understood material; how well YOU can write and argue etc. — not how well the person you have ripped off can do these things. (In other words, the specific way in which a person combines words reveals their knowledge and expertise. Those specific combinations of words belong to them. The original ideas they develop also reflect their abilities. The facts they have collected reflect their hard work. So you need to use the proper way of acknowledging whenever you are knowingly using somebody else’s words, ideas, or facts). Plagiarism is also treated so seriously because it can falsely increase a student’s marks. Plagiarised work will be dealt with according to the strict procedures set out in the University’s plagiarism policies/guidelines – see www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/230
    Plagiarism generally takes two main forms. The first form is copying the work of other students and we have various checks to guard against this possibility. The second form is copying the work of authors published in print or electronically. Please note that all quotations (i.e. use of someone else's words) must be surrounded by quotation marks or clearly indented, as well as acknowledged by footnotes. Using footnotes alone, without quotation marks or indentation, still constitutes full plagiarism and will be treated accordingly. Use of other people's ideas, figures etc. must be acknowledged by a footnote even if you are not quoting directly (see Politics Department Essay Writing Instructions for details).

    Ignorance is not a sufficient excuse. It is your responsibility to ensure that you don't plagiarise. It is part of our assessment requirements that you know how to acknowledge sources properly. If you have any doubts about what constitutes plagiarism (or other forms of cheating) ask your tutor/lecturer. If you are seriously behind with your work or unable to understand things NEVER resort to plagiarism. Ask your teachers for help instead. If you come to us, we’ll do our best to help you get through. We are happy to assist students who ask us for help. We are definitely not happy to waste many hours, or even days, tracking down the sources of people who are trying to dishonestly increase their marks by cheating.

    The high reputation of a University of Adelaide degree depends on us taking a strong stand against plagiarism and in supporting academic honesty. Doing so not only protects honest students from unfair competition, it also ensures the quality and high status of your degree.


    Essays and tutorial papers should:

    · Reveal very wide reading (even more for big essays than tutorial papers). Make good use of both primary sources (e.g. sources from politicians, government, social movements themselves) and secondary sources (commentaries by others).

    · Reveal your ability to find the information you need by using library and other sources. (Good library research skills are essential , see reading list on MyUni for assistance).

    · Reveal the ability to assess the reliability and quality of different types of information e.g. material from internet, newspapers, protest groups, politicians, academic books and journals. For example, is a politician’s depiction of an opponent a reliable source? Is your material from the internet produced by a well qualified person? Do you use enough scholarly sources?

    · Be substantiated with evidence, examples, footnotes. We need evidence - not assertions.

    · Show that you know how to use the scholarly conventions properly e.g. how to use footnotes, cite quotations etc.

    · Be in your own words except for judicious use of acknowledged quotations. Never plagiarise (see previous page in course outline).

    · Be clearly argued. We want your own, well substantiated views showing your ability for original, independent thinking and analysis.

    · Analyse a range of views.

    · Be polished. Write more than one draft!

    · Reveal knowledge of relevant background material covered in a wide range of lectures e.g. how different views studied in the course impact on your topic.

    · Generally reveal the relevant skills outlined in the Course Learning Objectives and Graduate Attributes.


    Students must do their tutorial paper and essay on substantially different topics. In other words, you cannot do both on globalisation, or both on popular culture (film or news media), or both on race. If in doubt, ask your tutor. See summary section for information regarding word lengths.

    Devising your own essay (research) topic.
    A few suggestions for topics will be posted on My Uni (and if you choose one of these set questions, you needn’t get your tutor’s approval). However, one of the things we want to do in this course is to encourage you to follow up your own interests (as long as they are relevant to the course) and develop your own research projects. This is particularly the case since there are only a handful of issues in Australian Politics that we can study in twelve weeks, so we’ve had to leave quite a lot of interesting issues out. So, if you'd like to work out an alternative essay topic on a topic covered in the course please consult with your tutor. (The wording should not be overly similar to a tutorial question or an essay question in another course — remember it is cheating to hand in substantially the same work for more than one course). Similarly, if there is a pressing issue that you would like to analyse in an essay but that isn’t included in the course outline, please talk to your lecturer/tutor about the possibility of doing an essay on that topic. For example, students in the past have done essays on topics such as Australian relations with Indonesia, the politics of Mad as Hell or The Project, drugs policy, health policy, tertiary education policy, Australian participation in Afghanistan, the politics of social media and a host of other issues. However, you should do a library search (e.g. using APAIS and, if appropriate, searches of media and government/parliamentary/party websites, see Reading List on My Uni) before you see your lecturer/tutor to ensure that there is sufficient material available.

    Tutorial papers or essays handed up without proper footnotes will not normally be accepted for marking. In those cases where the lack of referencing constitutes plagiarism (see earlier in this outline), the work will be dealt with following the procedures set out in the plagiarism policies. (Remember, it is your responsibility to provide proper referencing as set out in the Politics Discipline Essay Writing Instructions available from http://www.hss.adelaide.edu.au/historypolitics/students/undergraduate/resources.html See note regarding citing internet sources in the citation section of this outline.

    Don’t forget the lengthy Reading List on MyUni!!!!!
    Full information about how to submit your work is given on MyUni.

    Extensions (and deductions of marks for late work handed in without an extension).
    Students wishing to apply for an extension need to submit the relevant form available at http://www.adelaide.edu.au/student/exams/mod_arrange.html to the school office at least 5 days prior to the due date for the assignment. You need to state how long an extension you are asking for.

    Exceptions to the Policy
    If one of the following criteria is met, an informal extension can be organised with the course coordinator or tutor:
    • small extension – 2 days or less (email your tutor making a case for an extension);
    • assessment item is worth 20% or less (i.e. for the bibliographic assignment please email your tutor making a case for an extension);
    • student is registered with the Disability Office (need to attach a Disability Access Plan – DAP) – email your tutor.

    Note that essays handed in late, even with an extension, may receive only minimal comments due to marking time constraints (e.g. unfortunately we can’t get an extension for submitting our results, so this may limit how much time we have available to mark work handed in late).
    Work that is handed in late without an extension will have 3% per day (including weekends) deducted.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Issues in Australian Politics is continually reviewed in response to SELT feedback. Changes made in response to previous feedback include the following: (a) the word lengths for essays and tutorials were reduced (b) in response to a comment that students needed reminding what is required for tutorial papers, some key information from the course outline was also included in the Tutorial Readings page separators for each week (c) changes will also be made in response to some comments on content – e.g. in regard to explaining material that some students found harder to understand (d) Additional changes have included clarifying what is included in assessment word counts and further clarifying what is required in the bibliography exercise.. Unfortunately, not all changes to content asked for could be made, partly because students have wildly differing views on their favourite and least favourite topics in the course and partly because of educational grounds e.g. what we need to cover in a one semester course that introduces students to a wide range of issues. However, topics are changed and/or updated each year, so please give feedback again in 2014.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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