Assessment 3: Essay – Critical Analysis

Assessment 3: Essay – Critical Analysis

Social workers are often employed in positions where they need to be equipped to critically analyse policy and then defend their point. These positions include: policy analysts, political advisors, Ministerial advisors, lobbyists and board members of not for profit organisations.  Government policy is a complex and dynamic process. Policy regularly deals with social issues, often intentions are good but the policy or program is poorly implemented, or has assumptions, silences and unexpected perverse outcomes associated with it.

Using Carol Bacchi’s ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ approach the way the problem is ‘produced through policy’ is everything. This assessment item is designed to get you to explore this complexity in relation to a selected policy. Your essay does not have to use analysis from all of Bacchi’s questions, in-depth analysis is preferred to surface analysis of using all of her questions.

This assessment is to be in essay format (introduction, body and conclusion) and must use academic referencing conventions. 

Task Overview

1.     Select one of the following Australian or South Australia social policies to form the basis of your analysis:

  1. South Australian Aboriginal Education Strategy 2019-2029
  2. Strategy to Safeguard the Rights of Older South Australians 2014-2021
  3. National Drug Strategy 2017-2026. Specifically priorities: Enhancing access to services and support; or Reducing adverse health, social and economic consequences.

2.     Research your selected policy and issue. Look for evaluations or reviews of the policy and academic literature published on the policy and issue. How has the government responded to the issue in the past? What would a social justice response to the issue look like? What might be some of the implications of this policy for social work practice? The focus for your analysis is on the policy, in the context of the understanding of the issue.
3.     Use Carol Bacchi’s ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ Approach to guide your critical analysis of your selected policy. You may use all 7 questions or select one or two questions to guide your analysis, remember more in-depth analysis is required. Read the academic literature that has used Carol Bacchi’s WPR approach.
4.     Write your critical analysis essay using evidence to support your argument.
5.     This is an essay format where depth of critical analysis is required. DO NOT USE HEADINGS TO FORMAT YOUR ESSAY.
6.     Reference your essay.This paper must be referenced using academic references and an APA identified referencing system eg in-text author-date. Quality of references count – academic social work journals and books are recommended. This referencing system must be used consistently. This means that the reference list must be in alphabetical order by last name of author.

Please read the Marking Rubric which can be found in the assessment section of FLO. In summary your essay will be assessed in the following areas:

  • Extent of critical analysis of the policy and use of academic resources and independent research;
  • Coverage, knowledge of the policy selected;
  • Organisation of the ideas;
  • Quality of written expression;
  • Use of examples;
  • Relevance to social work, articulates a social justice approach.

WORD COUNT: 2000 words (excluding references)         

WEIGHT: Contributes to 40% of overall grade

Requirements for Essays

  • Review the requirements and weighting outlined in the marking rubric.
  • An essay requires an introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Essays must be referenced using an APA (American Psychological Association) Referencing style eg in-text author-date.
  • A minimum of seven (7) Academic references will be required for the essays.
  • Essays need to be written using a size 11 font, Arial, 1.5 line spacing.
  • If you are not sure about referencing, visit the Student Learning Centre or their website at  Please note that correct spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation and formatting are essential.
  • Be cautious about exceeding the word limit.
  • All essays must be submitted via Turnitin (See submission).

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