Comparing New Zealand Government and Policy (Online)

Certificate of Proficiency | Contributes to MPP

Recommended Background

Students will have a bachelors degree in a relevant subject

University Entrance (or equivalent required for admission)


12 weeks

Next Start Dates

15 July 2024 (2024 Semester Two)

Enrolment closes one week before the course starts. Apply early to secure your spot.

Domestic Fees


Course Overview

This course is part of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and may also be taken as a course-only study option. It provides an examination of the composition, functions and rules associated with New Zealand’s machinery of government at both central and local level. Throughout the course, you will analyse the relative impact of institutions, interests and ideas on public policy outcomes in New Zealand and internationally. You will apply these understandings to the methods and processes associated with policy transfer and lesson drawing cross-nationally.
Upon completion, students who wish to progress their studies further towards a formal qualification may count this course towards the Master of Public Policy (entry criteria and time limits apply).
The beginning of this course surveys many of the key institutions and principles of New Zealand’s government. You will apply this knowledge to a policy design activity to get you thinking about the types of people and sources you might consult when designing a policy for the New Zealand community. In the second half of the course, we consider public policy and governance issues in comparative context—with a particular emphasis on the practice of lesson-drawing and how governments engage in this practice. You will apply these learnings to a range of class activities, including a research essay.
Introduction to the class This week introduces you to the course generally, including its purpose and the topics to be considered. By the end of this module, you should feel confident in the assessments and expectations in order to succeed in the course. You will also be able to explain the reasons for policy actors engaging in lesson-drawing from other countries when developing public policies in the New Zealand context.
New Zealand’s constitutional context This week introduces the students to New Zealand’s constitutional context. The focus is to understand the structure of government as well as the role of the Treaty of Waitangi/Tiriti o Waitangi in New Zealand government and governance. Students are given an overview of these institutions and will consider some of the key debates about these enduring institutions.
Westminster adapted One of the most important things for a policy analyst to advocate or remember is the ‘public’ part of ‘public policy’. Given our emphasis on analytics, analysis and data, it is easy to forget that politicians make policy and are not always swayed by evidence. This week, we consider New Zealand’s adapted Westminster system as an important venue for policy change.
The machinery of government This week introduces you to New Zealand’s bureaucracy – often referred to as the ‘machinery of government’. Building on previous weeks, we begin to see how the electoral system, structured by our constitution, leads to a government, which, in turn, relies on specialised agencies and individuals to both advise the elected officials on policy but also to implement the decisions that the Government makes. This two-way relationship of advising on and implementing policy is what makes the bureaucracy unique and so vital to New Zealand’s government system.
Local & regional government policy-making This week’s topic is local government. We will consider the structure of local government in New Zealand, and its relationship to central government. We will also examine how local governments are elected and what the guiding principles for local government in New Zealand are.
Public finance and appropriations This week introduces students to the public finance/appropriations/budget process in New Zealand. Students will review the standard legislative process of budget-making and its connection to public policy. In particular, students will explore the concepts of gender budgeting and the well-being budget in New Zealand as significant changes with enormous potential for linking budget allocations with desired policy outcomes.
Why compare NZ? Lesson drawing for policy makers This module introduces students to sub-field of comparative public policy. Students will review the development and definitions of this approach over the past 50 years. In particular, students will explore the concept of lesson drawing and consider how policy makers might make use of it as an analytical tool.
How to compare? Thinking about methods and process In this module you will look at the methodological logic of making comparisons and then explore in more depth the methods used by comparative scholars. You will also engage in a series of short activities that inform how you might choose a preferred comparative method.
What influences successful lesson drawing? (Part 1: institutions, actors and ideas) By the end of this module, you should be able to: – demonstrate a knowledge of key policy-relevant institutions, interests and ideas – understand how cross-national variation in these three “factors” influences policy outcomes – identify how to take such variation into account when engaging in lesson drawing.
What influences successful lesson drawing? (Part 2: international organisations) This module focuses on the intersection of the global and the national in public policy. It is the final substantive content module for the course. We take a look at the way in which scholars understand the way international organisations (IOs) work. In the second part of the module, we shift the focus from the IOs to the nation state, and the way the latter has engaged with policy instruments created by the former.
Reading week In this module, no new content will be introduced. This week is reserved for you to review the course content (including the readings assigned for the course) and to work on your final assignment.
Course summary As you work on your final assignment, we will take a look at a case study on New Zealand’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) policy and how other countries have looked to us to draw lessons from a policy innovation. This is an important reminder that lesson-drawing is a two-way street and that through innovative and deliberate design, the policies we contribute to have the opportunity to have far wider impacts than we might initially conceive.

Students who complete this course will:

  1. Gain a better understanding of New Zealand government and how it works
  2. Enhance their research and writing skills and develop a research topic of their personal interest
  3. Learn and practice important applied research and design skills on a current topic germane to New Zealand government
  4. Understand the role and influence of key actors, ideas and institutions in the policy process
  5. Be able to critically analyse the various approaches used to explain differences in policy outcomes
  6. Be able to link theory and practice through comparative policy analysis
  7. Be able to define and apply key policy concepts

Upon successful completion of the course you will:

  • Be awarded with 30 credit points from the University of Auckland
  • Have the option to take your credit into the MPP (entry criteria and time limits apply)

Frequently asked questions about this course

Application FAQs

What are the entry requirements?
This course is for students with a bachelors degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include anthropology, business, communication, economics, governance, law, media, organisational studies, political science, public administration, public health, public management, public policy, public relations, social geography, social sciences and sociology. Please note that for admission you must meet the requirements to study at a New Zealand University (e.g. through University Entrance or an alternative entrance pathway).

What is the date for the next intake?
The next start date for this course is 27 February 2023. Enrolment closes one week before the course starts. Enrol early to secure your spot.

Is the course fee a one-off lump sum?
Yes, the course fee is a one-off sum of $2,324.70 for domestic students.

Is this course open to non-resident students?
No. Currently Auckland Online Certificates of Proficiency are only open to NZ citizens and permanent residents.

Studying FAQs

Can I study the course in my own time? Is it suitable for those working full-time?
Yes. You can study at a time that suits you (within the allocated course dates). Auckland Online courses are designed for working professionals. They are flexible yet structured to help you gain the knowledge in the time you have.

How is the course structured?
The course will run over 12 weeks (with a break in the middle), and will comprise 12 weekly modules. Further details on the course structure can be found under the ‘Course Structure’ tab further up on this page.

Assessment FAQs

How will I be assessed?
Learners will be assessed through a combination of activities that address the learning objectives from each of the modules in the course. These will comprise weekly tasks, a policy design activity, and a research essay.

Benefits FAQs

What is a Certificate of Proficiency (CoP)?
A Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) is a course-only study option that allows you to take a course at the University of Auckland, without studying a full programme. It is a good option for those who want to study short-term or to test whether a subject is something they wish to pursue more of in the future.

Does the course enable me to take further study at the University?
If you decide to progress your studies further towards a full qualification, you can apply to reassign the points from your CoP to the MPP (entry criteria and time limits apply).

How many course credits will I attain upon completion of the course?
Upon completion of the course, you will be awarded with 30 credit points from the University of Auckland.

Do I get a certificate at the end?
As a Certificate of Proficiency is not a formal qualification, you will not be able to graduate with it or receive a graduation certificate. Your results will be recorded on your official academic transcript, providing evidence of your study.

*Fees are inclusive of 15% GST, but do not include the Student Services Fee, course books, travel and health insurance, or living costs. Amounts shown are indicative only. In addition to the tuition fee, there is a Student Services Fee of $4.44 per point (online). Fees will be confirmed upon completion of enrolment into courses.

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