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PRL3003 Public Sector and Public Service Communication

Semester 2, 2014 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Arts and Communication

Contents on this page


Examiner: Matthew Grant
Moderator: Chris Kossen

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.
This course should be completed during the student's last year in the program.


Public sector organisations, not-for-profit organisations, social service organisations and community groups are significant players in today’s global economy. Increasing priority is being placed on greater involvement of the public in the processes of these organisations. While this has resulted in the creation of better informed and connected publics, it has also created increased expectations among these publics for high standards of practice.

Communication in the organisational environment of these organisations is complex. They possess unique characteristics which require different communication systems and approaches from those in the private sector. Particularly in the case of public sector organisations, communication is governed by accountabilities and constraints not found elsewhere.

Thus, these organisations require a distinctive approach to public relations. This course, therefore, addresses a need to develop within organisational communication specialists the capacities to work within these unique sectors.


Public service, not-for-profit, social service and community organisations possess unique characteristics which impact on the practice of communication. Communication specialists in these sectors develop programmes and campaigns around a diverse range of areas, including matters in `the public interest', behaviour change programmes, public education, safety initiatives, working for `the social good', and education around issues of legislation or government compliance.

By taking this course, students will learn how the cultures of public service, not-for-profit, social service and community organisations influence the practice of communication. They will be introduced to the different types of communication within the sectors. They will also learn how to apply a range of communication disciplines within the context of these organisations in order to strategically plan and manage effective communication.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. articulate an understanding of the roles of public sector and public service organisations in society;
  2. critically analyse the core concepts of applicable communication and organisational theories and their applicability to public service, not-for-profit, social service and community environments;
  3. comprehend methods used to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of public sector and public service communication and discuss their applications;
  4. comprehend the basic concepts of communication ethics, and their application in the conduct of professional communication in public sector and public service environments;
  5. demonstrate information literacy skills appropriate to the discipline, and apply research strategies by investigating, planning, and submitting communication strategy and campaign outlines appropriate to the public sector and public service setting;
  6. communicate orally and in writing by preparing and submitting a written assignment and a learning portfolio.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The role and place of public sector and public service organisations 10.00
2. Organisational culture, frameworks, characteristics, and concepts 20.00
3. Working as a communication professional in public service, not-for-profit, social service and community organisations 10.00
4. A strategic view of communication 20.00
5. Communication campaigns to inform and educate 15.00
6. Communication campaigns to persuade and change behaviour 15.00
7. Public sector and public service communication ethics 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.
  • Beckwith, SL 2006, Publicity for nonprofits: generating media exposure that leads to awareness, growth, and contributions, Kaplan Pub, Chicago, IL.
    (Online Resource - Ebrary.)
  • Chung K 1999, Going Public. Communicating in the Public & Private Sectors, Hale & Iremonger, Alexandria, NSW.
  • Feinglass, A 2005, The public relations handbook for nonprofits: a comprehensive and practical guide, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
  • Moss, D & DeSanto, B (eds) 2002, Public relations cases: international perspectives, Routledge, New York.
  • Young, SA 2007, Government communication in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge [England] & New York.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 20.00
Directed Study 97.00
Private Study 48.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 30 15 Aug 2014
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 70 24 Oct 2014

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:
    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:
    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.

  2. This public relations course maintains high standards of spelling, grammar, syntax and style. Faults in any of these could render a project or proposal unacceptable.