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Examines how social issues in contemporary Australia are constructed and interpreted across their social, cultural, political and moral dimensions. The unit examines the role of discourses in the construction of social issues, social groups and social arenas as social problems and the role of the state in the translation of these into social policy. Areas examined may include work, families, disabilities, Indigeneity and education. Concepts such as globalisation, neoliberalism, individualisation, race relations, risk and social exclusion explain the relationship between the individual, the group and the state. The unit is relevant to anyone seeking to understand contemporary social issues, especially students working in the area of human services, including social work, education, law and the criminal justice system.

Summary 2021

Unit name Social Problems and Social Policy
Unit code HGA223
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
School of Social Sciences
Discipline Sociology and Criminology

Dr. Max Travers

Teaching staff

Level Intermediate
Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the social context in which social policy takes place and its relationship with global and local social changes.
  2. Understand how a number of contemporary social problems are defined and debated in the policy making process.
  3. Be able to apply different sociological theories to social policy, including political economy, constructionism and governmentality.




25 points at introductory level in any discipline in any faculty


Teaching Pattern

On Campus:
Weekly lecture (2 x 1 hour lecture)
Fortnightly tutorial (1 hour)

Off Campus:
Minimum of 3 hours weekly consisting of two online lectures
Discussion forum participation and other reading


Task 1: Exam, 2 hours (50%).

Task 2: Newspaper Report Exercise, 500 words (10%).

Task 3: Essay, 3000 words (40%).

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Information about any textbook requirements will be available from mid November.


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