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Corruption in Today's World (POLS90037)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOLS90037
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject focuses on definitions, types and theories of corruption, and on its political, social and economic effects in various parts of the world, particularly since the 1980s. The subject encourages students to problematise the concept of corruption in terms of its varied meanings, and to distinguish it from concepts such as organised crime, shadow economy, and political sleaze. One major issue considered is the extent to which corruption can delegitimise political systems. The subject will explore cultural diversity in interpretations of corruption, and the extent to which different cultural and systemic factors appear to exacerbate or reduce corruption. There will be a particular focus on the possible connections between corruption and neo-liberalism. On completion, students should have a sophisticated understanding of corruption in the contemporary world, what causes it, how it is measured, and how it is combated. Students should also be able to provide an advanced cost-benefit analysis of corruption in political, economic and social terms.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should:

  • be able to problematise the concept and study of corruption, especially in the comparative context;
  • be able to evaluate each of the methods suggested in the literature for assessing the scale and nature of corruption in particular countries or regions;
  • be able to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the major methods proposed in the literature for combating corruption;
  • be able to outline and evaluate the debates on the possible benefits of corruption;
  • be able to provide a sophisticated critique of the major contemporary theories of the causes of corruption.

Generic skills

  • Research: through competent use of the library and other information sources (inc. online), and the definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research.
  • Critical Thinking and Analysis: through recommended reading, briefing and essay writing, and seminar discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument.
  • Thinking in Theoretical Terms: through seminar discussion, essay writing and engagement in the methodologies of the humanities and social sciences.
  • Thinking Creatively: through essay writing, seminar discussion and presentations, conceptualising theoretical problems, forming judgements and arguments from conflicting evidence and by critical analysis.
  • Understanding of Social, Ethical and Cultural Context: through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument.
  • Communicating Knowledge Intelligibly and Economically: through briefing and essay writing, and seminar discussion.
  • Written Communication: through briefing and essay preparation and writing.
  • Oral Presentation: through seminar discussion and informal class presentations.
  • Time Management and Planning: through managing and organising workloads for recommended reading, essay and assignment completion.
  • Group Work: through group discussions.

Eligibility and requirements


Entry into MC-IR Master of International Relations or 274-AB Master of Criminology.



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level

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


Additional details

  • 1. 1000-word briefing paper (20%) due early September.
  • 2. 3000-word research essay (60%) due early Ocotber.
  • 3. 1000-word briefing paper (20%) due late October.
  • Hurdle requirement: As this is an Intensively-taught subject, Lecture/Seminar attendance is compulsory for all classes and regular class participation is expected.

Dates & times

  • August
    Principal coordinatorLeslie Holmes
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursThis subject is comprised of seminars and workshops delivered as an intensive over 4 days (approx 32 hours total)
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period10 August 2019 to 8 September 2019
    Last self-enrol date16 August 2019
    Census date 6 September 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail18 October 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    August contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Readings will be provided online through the subject's LMS site prior to the commencement of the subject.

    Recommended texts and other resources

    C. Fletcher & D. Herrmann, The Internationalisation of Corruption (2012)

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    Subject coordinator approval required

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 3 August 2019