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PRL8007 Deliberative Community Participation and Engagement

Semester 1, 2012 Online Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities and Communication
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Alison Feldman
Moderator: Chris Kossen

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


Community involvement in organisational planning and decision-making is critical to effective practice in an increasingly complex operational environment. Today's organisations are challenged by the need to balance strategic intent with socially responsible approaches which take account of the views and experiences of the wide range of publics affected by the organisation's operations. The ongoing expansion of democratisation in modern communities means that a diverse range of organizations are becoming increasingly concerned with engaging the broader community in decision-making and policy processes. The emphasis on community consultation in Australia and internationally in recent years indicates that demand for specialist expertise in managing community engagement is high at present, and is predicted to continue into the future.


This first part of the course introduces students to the historical and contemporary contexts of participation in organisations, and the development of organisational engagement with the diversity of all its publics. The second part examines a range of theoretical perspectives which provide a deep understanding of the typology, dynamics and power dimensions of engagement, particularly from a public relations perspective. The third part focuses on models, methods and challenges of managing and conducting engagement. The fourth part focuses on the importance of scholarship of engagement - a critical component in maintaining knowledge on current issues and developing continuing professional practice.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the broad context in which participatory approaches have developed within organisations, and between organisations and their diverse publics;
  2. demonstrate a good understanding of theoretical perspectives on citizen democracy, and engagement, and critically evaluate the contribution of these theories to organisational practice;
  3. describe the components of an effective model of public participation, and the issues and challenges of developing effective engagement approaches;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of various methods available to foster engagement processes and the associated benefits and challenges that these bring to contemporary organisations;
  5. evaluate a public participation program and reflect on professional practice.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Why involve the public in planning and policymaking? The evolution of, and typology of, community consultation, deliberation and engagement in the contemporary era 15.00
2. The conceptual territory of engagement: including symmetrical communication, systems and complexity theories, relationship management, corporate sustainability, and stakeholder theory 20.00
3. ’Best practice’ professional communication: principles, frameworks, policy and practice (including core values and ethical issues for public engagement) 20.00
4. Assessing consultation and engagement practices 25.00
5. Issues in consultation practice - including tensions in engaging publics in decision-making, planning and policymaking 10.00
6. The scholarship of engagement: developing scholarly, informed and effective public participation and engagement practice 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Creighton, J 2005, The Public Participation Handbook: Making Better Decisions Through Citizen Involvement, Jossey Bass, San Francisco.
    (USQ Library online e-Book.)
  • Gastil, J & Levine, P. (eds.) 2005, The deliberative democracy handbook: strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century, 1st edn, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
  • Sanoff, H 2000, Community participation methods in design and planning, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
  • Sarkissian, W, Vajda, S & Hofer, N 2008, Kitchen Table Sustainability: Practical Ways of Helping Communities Engage Directly with Sustainability Challenges, Earthscan Publications Ltd, London.
    (USQ Library online e-Book.)
  • Wates, N 2000, The Community Planning Handbook: How People Can Shape Their Cities, Towns and Villages in Any Part of the World, Earthscan Publications Ltd, London.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 97.00
Private Study 68.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
DISCUSSION PAPER 100 40 30 Mar 2012
CASE STUDY REPORT 100 60 04 Jun 2012

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students? responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.