Parliamentary partnership to enhance learning

August 4, 2014

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Western Australian parliamentarians will soon swap the Chambers for the lecture theatre, with a new Parliamentary Studies unit to be offered at Murdoch University from August 2014.

The unit, offered through the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, in association with the Parliament of Western Australia, aims to give post graduate students a sophisticated understanding of both the theory and practice of parliamentary politics.

School Dean Professor Benjamin Reilly said it will be the first Australian university unit to be co-taught by parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

“The Parliamentary Studies unit has a strong skills focus, sharpening academic learning while enhancing the future employability of our students,” he said.

Professor Matthew Flinders, a Visiting Distinguished Professor of Politics from the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom), will be leading the initiative.

He said a similar Parliamentary Studies unit, also drawing on the expertise of the British Houses of Parliament, was launched at the University of Sheffield in 2010.

The program was subsequently rolled out to 14 universities and expanded to include collaborations with the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“Meaningful collaborations like these are really setting the standard in terms of high quality, research-led teaching,” Professor Flinders said.

“The idea is to make the study of politics come to life in a way that develops new insights and skills.

“We want to forge new relationships, to create new opportunities and to break new ground in relation to the student experience.”

The unit will draw on the expertise of senior parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, who will deliver guest lectures.

"We are happy to support this initiative and to provide students with first-hand parliamentary knowledge and experience," said the Honourable Michael Sutherland MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Professor Reilly said the innovative new unit will have a substantial practical component, bringing together the expertise of academics and practitioners.

“For example, instead of the traditional essay, students will be required to draft a submission to a parliamentary committee,” he said.

“This may sound daunting, but our students will receive lots of support and I am sure they will thrive on the challenge. They will certainly learn invaluable new skills.”

Comments (One response)

Mike Peeters August 5, 2014

Fantastic initiative – I work as a research officer in the Liberal Party and it is great to see such a unit addressing Parliamentary legal procedures and the like.

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