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Working Ethically (PADM90009)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePADM90009
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Working Ethically 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 is one of three professionally-oriented subjects and it builds on the World of Public Administration and the core discipline subjects to develop the professional skills of participants with a particular focus on ethics.

The course provides students with an advanced understanding of ethics as they apply to the individual in their managerial role, but also in the design and implementation of public outcomes more broadly. This subject situates these challenges in their social, theoretical, historical and disciplinary contexts to provide participants with a strong foundation for their application in practice. The subject draws in particular on key ideas from philosophy to guide participants in working ethically as individual managers and leaders, but also more broadly facing the ethical dilemmas that managers confront in complex policy and governing environments. It will place a particular emphasis on the complex relationship between scientific advancement and the challenges this poses to policy makers and public managers.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Understand key ethical challenges facing managers in practice and develop an appreciation of how to address them;
  • Acquire knowledge of the social, theoretical, historical and disciplinary factors that underpin ethics in practice;
  • Learn to recognise the distinction between ethically designed institutions and the ethics of action made within given institutional realities; and
  • Appreciate how to make decisions and provide advice in complex policy and governing environments.

Generic skills

On successful completion of this subject students should have:

  • A sound understanding of moral theory and applied ethics and their implications for public management processes and decisions;
  • A high-level ability to combine moral and political theory and professional practice in a meaningful way in order to generate responses to both ethical and managerial challenges;
  • The skills and capabilities to reflect upon professional practice in order to meet ethical challenges at the individual and institutional level; and
  • The ability to draw upon an extensive repertoire of advanced professional skills and to apply these skills with an awareness of the ethical implications of strategies and decisions.

Eligibility and requirements


Please note that to enrol in this subject:

  • 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



  • Assessment Task 1: Practice application paper of 1000 words where students write up a practical issue related to key themes in the subject (20%) due in the week prior to the face-to-face class;
  • Assessment Task 2: Syndicate project (group presentation and group paper 30%):
    • Group presentation (15%) scheduled during face-to-face classes
    • Group paper of 1500 words (15%) exploring key aspects of the group presentation due two weeks after face-to-face class
  • Assessment Task 3: Professional reflection paper of 2500 words where students apply key concepts from the course to the practical issue from assessment task 1 (50%) due four weeks after the face-to-face class.

  • Hurdle requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 100% of classes in order to pass this subject, and regular class participation is expected

Dates & times

  • November
    Principal coordinatorDaniel Halliday
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24 hours total: 3 x 8-hour seminars delivered over 3 days
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Pre teaching start date25 October 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsStudents will be required to access the LMS and the readings provided in order to prepare for the first assessment task. Note: this is due in the first week of the teaching period, which is prior to face-to-face teaching (classes begin on 8 November). Students will be able to contact the subject coordinator for support during the pre-teaching period.
    Teaching period 1 November 2019 to 10 November 2019
    Last self-enrol date25 October 2019
    Census date 8 November 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail22 November 2019
    Assessment period ends 6 December 2019

    November contact information

Time commitment details

Total 170 hours

Additional delivery details

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

Further information

Last updated: 3 April 2019