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PRL8007 Community Participation

Semester 1, 2016 Online
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Arts and Communication
Student contribution band : Band 3
ASCED code : 080509 - Public Relations

Contents on this page


Examiner: Barbara Ryan

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.


The 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 expectations

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 2016
ENGAGEMENT PLAN 100 60 13 Jun 2016

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    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.

    It is the students? responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and 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

  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:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  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:
    Not applicable

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable

  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

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.