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The Nature of Governing (PADM90005)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePADM90005
Winter Term
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The Nature of Governing is one of the core subjects in the Melbourne Master of Public Administration. The Melbourne MPA is an interdisciplinary, globally-focused degree program for managers that work within or with government. This subject sets out the foundations of governing for public outcomes and examines how government and governing institutions have evolved over time and in various settings to meet political and policy challenges, and the implications of this for public managers.

This subject provides students with the theoretical concepts and analytical tools to understand the nature and practice of governing and government in a globalizing world. Its focus is on the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public administration. It draws mainly from the disciplines of political science and international relations, and from related disciplines such as sociology and political economy. Its core objective is to help participants to understand how the political environment (comprised of institutions, ideas and actors) and the practice of politics, constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy. This political environment is simultaneously local, national, international and global and includes elections and appointment procedures, interconnected policymaking institutions, multiple accountability mechanisms, delegation and independent agencies, interest groups, civil society and public opinion. The subject explores the great diversity of these political processes, actors and institutions and assesses how the practice of politics shapes the work of public managers across a range of practical and topical policy domains. The international dimension of this political environment has become ever more important and particular attention will be paid to the influence of international negotiations and agreements, international organizations, global standard setting bodies, international policy learning and diffusion, transnational private sector and civil society actors on the work that public managers do.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Understand how the political environment constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy and governing;
  • Acquire knowledge of the theoretical concepts and analytical tools needed to analyse this evolving political environment;
  • Understand the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public policymaking and administration;
  • Appreciate the expanding impact of the international dimensions of policy, including how this environment shapes and enables the work of public managers within countries; and
  • Understand the potential and pitfalls of international policy diffusion and learning.

Generic skills

On successful completion of this subject students should have:

  • A critical understanding of the operation of governments in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and across the world, and of the way in which the political environment affects the work of public managers;
  • A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity of international relations, and an ability to collaborate effectively with other domestic and international actors and institutions;
  • A high-level ability to combine the theory and practice of governing in order to address the managerial challenges that result from the operation of government;
  • A high-level ability to connect professional skills in public administration with discipline based expertise in political science, international relations and cognate disciplines;
  • Well-developed interpersonal and communication skills necessary to a range of professional activities including report writing, workplace discussions and lobbying strategies; and
  • Flexible communication skills with a highly attuned sensitivity to a diverse audience, and to the issues specific to cross-cultural communication.

Eligibility and requirements


Students must be admitted to the Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Administration (Enhanced), Graduate Certificate in Public Administration (Advanced) or Specialist Certificate in Public Administration.



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Previous study in public policy, political science, management, law, business, economics, international relations, non-profit management or cognate area.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Group presentation (20 minutes) (10%): held during teaching period (hurdle)
  • Literature review (1,500 words) (25%): due two weeks after end of teaching period (hurdle)
  • Policy Analysis (3,500 words) (65%): due six weeks after end of teaching period (hurdle)
  • Students are required to attend 100% of classes in order to pass this subject and regular class participation is required (hurdle)

Dates & times

  • Winter Term
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours35 hours total: 5 day intensive
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Pre teaching start date 1 July 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsPre-teaching Period Requirements: Students will be required to access the LMS and the readings provided in order to prepare for the first assessment task, which is due in the first week of the teaching period. The first week of the teaching period does not involve face-to-face classes. Students will be able to contact the subject coordinator for support during the pre-teaching period.
    Teaching period15 July 2019 to 19 July 2019
    Last self-enrol date 3 July 2019
    Census date15 July 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail26 July 2019
    Assessment period ends 9 August 2019

    Winter Term contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Additional delivery details

Delivery mode:
Intensive, and with a pre-teaching period.

Further information

Last updated: 3 April 2019