1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Enrolment not permitted
POLI3012 has been successfully completed
Assumed knowledge
Familiarity with basic Australian or US politics such as can be obtained from second level undergraduate topics in these areas.
Topic description

This topic explores the contemporary politics of Australia, Canada and the United States in comparative terms, beginning with the social structures of the three countries. The connection between social structure and federalism is explored. The topic also examines, again comparatively, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the national governments in the three nations, comparing the power of executives, the effectiveness of the legislatures and the role of 'rights' in the three juridical systems. Political parties are central to all three nations, but they are remarkably different, especially in terms of their expectations of party line voting. Policy outcomes on the matters such as immigration, health care and gun control are examined. As 'settler societies', all three nations displaced their aboriginal peoples and that, and subsequent policy, is explored here too. The goal of the topic is to understand Australia better and to recognise in the diversity of the way these three nations function, possibilities for reform both here and there.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Introduce students to the differences and similarities in the political and policy development of Australia, Canada and the Untied States
  • Understand better their own society by virtue of comparing it with two similar yet different societies
  • Understand the differences in social policy and political procedure across these three seemingly similar nations
  • Appreciate the manner in which policy decisions reflect the extent of federalism, and social differentiation, across a nation
  • Further enhance students' ability to conduct independent research and to assess and evaluate different types of sources
  • Consolidate students' written and communication skills
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Discuss the political and policy evolution of Australia, Canada and the United States
  2. Articulate differences in the operation and outcomes of a parliamentary and non-parliamentary forms of government function
  3. Pursue a research agenda and answer a concise research question in each of these three nations
  4. Appreciate the value of comparative research for questions of both policy development and political reform