COMM5203 Social and Environmental Outcomes Measurement - 2022

Subject Code
Study Level
Commencing Term
Term 3
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Delivery Mode
T3 Online
UNSW Business School

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

Social and Environmental Outcomes Measurement will provide introductory, applied knowledge and skills for measuring social and environmental outcomes and impact, a topic that is in increasing demand from government, business, and the 'Social Sector' including social enterprises/businesses and not-for-profit organisations. It examines some of the key social impact measurement approaches increasingly used by leading third-sector organisations in Australia and internationally as well as by governments and large corporations. The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply social impact frameworks and methodologies at a project and organisational level. 

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

There is a growing interest in how third-sector organisations can measure and demonstrate their social and environmental impact to their broad range of stakeholders (e.g. target group, funders, governments). Corporate foundations and social investors are also applying greater rigour in deciding which projects and organisations to fund and have higher expectations of grantees in terms of evaluation and assessment of the projects funded. All sectors, government, corporate and the third sector increasingly want to know the impact of their programs, initiatives, and investments. Social and Environmental Outcomes Measurement provides an overview and introduction to social and environmental impact assessment, outcomes measurement, data collection methods and evaluation as well as the underpinning principles of process, impact and economic evaluation and social and environmental impact assessment. It examines some of the key impact measurement approaches increasingly used by leading third-sector organisations in Australia and internationally as well as by governments and large corporations. The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply social impact frameworks and methodologies at a project and organisational level.

Additional Course Details

Links to all required and optional resources are on the reading list for your course in the UNSW Library's Leganto system, which you can access via your Moodle course. Please note you will need to login and may be required to enter your UNSW zID and zPass in order to access the library site. 

Required readings consist of core texts and their applications. Readings are chosen to provide both theoretical foundation and to illuminate their meaning and usage in professional contexts. The readings are not to be studied in detail but designed to initiate thinking and understanding of key themes in social systems and change.   

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course AuthorityIoana Ramia
By appointment only

Course Authority: Dr Ioana Ramia 

Dr Ioana Ramia is Principal Researcher at the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO). With a background in economics and social science and policy, Ioana has extensive expertise in research, evaluation and social impact assessment. She has research expertise in wellbeing, in particular the objective and subjective measures of wellbeing and their link to aspects of life such as education, work, housing or health. Ioana has completed research and evaluation for state government departments and non- governmental organisations, and has government, academic and private consultancy sector expertise. Ioana is a casual lecturer at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW.

Centre for Social Impact Student Team

Phone: 02 8936 0990


4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The mode of delivery for this course is online teaching and learning. You are encouraged to develop an inquiry-based approach to your learning with your facilitator guiding your learning. The Moodle site will provide access to multi-media resources and presentations that can provide you with the tools to examine, explore and discuss your learning with your co-participants and facilitators. The online resources will set the scene, framework and context for the online activities. This course comprises of: 

  • Weekly online units (4-5 pages introducing key concepts)
  • Weekly online activities (a discussion forum on a topic relevant to that week)
  • Fortnightly webinars for Q&A (one-hour long, not compulsory, will be recorded)

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

To maximise the collaborative and experiential nature of this course, a "flipped" learning and teaching approach will be used on a regular basis through the course that will help to support deeper student engagement and outcomes. The "flipped" approach means you do reading and researching independently before joining the weekly discussion forums. You have three major resources to help you learn:  

  1. The course materials, comprising readings, videos, interviews, references, insights and commentary for each module. You will do much of your learning outside the classroom by working through the course materials, and by completing the exercises as they arise.  
  2. Your course authority's role is to guide your learning by conducting class discussions, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week's work, providing insights from practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your assignments, and directing discussions that will occur between you and your co-participants.  
  3. Your co-participants are an invaluable source of rich learning content for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and debate the course materials, your views and those of the facilitator, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning. 

Course Structure

The course will cover:  

  • Rationale and Context: What is social and environmental impact? Why measure social and environmental impact? The increased focus on outcomes measurement in the business and social sector; Ethical and political context of impact assessment. 
  • Frameworks: A review of frameworks and methods to assess impact (logic framework, results-based accountability, social accounting, social return on investment).  
  • Evaluation: Underpinning principles of evaluation; process evaluation; outcomes/impact evaluation; economic evaluation; theory-driven vs data-driven evaluation; 
  • Theory of change and logic model 
  • Outcomes and Indicators: Developing indicators for outcomes across different social sectors; selection criteria for mapping potential indicators; data sources; population level and program level outcomes and indicators; benchmarking and targets for outcomes and indicators;  
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Methods of Data Collection: Collecting data and survey design in different institutional contexts; cross-sectional vs longitudinal designs; pre-post analysis; control-treatment approaches; experimental and quasi-experimental approaches; qualitative methods; methods of analysing quantitative and qualitative data; systematic reviews and meta-analysis; new developments in data - soft data, big data;  
  • Economic analysis and Social return on Investment (SROI) 
  • Applications and policy: Undertaking an applied outcomes measurement and evaluation exercise; evidence-based policy. 

6. Course Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services for students, including:  

Centre for Social Impact (CSI)

Please direct any CSI education program, enrolment and administration queries here:

Email: Phone: 02 8936 0990.

Business Student Centre 

The Nucleus: Student Hub, Level 2, in the Main Library. (UNSW map location F21)

Tel: (02) 8936 7005

Moodle eLearning Support

For online help using Moodle, go to: For technical support, email: ; Phone: 9385 1333.

UNSW Learning Centre 

Provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See website for details.

• Library services and facilities for students

• IT Service Centre

Provides technical support to troubleshoot problems with logging into websites, downloading documents, etc. Office: UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor). Phone: 9385 1333.

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services 

Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling. Office: Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building; Phone: 9385 5418; Email:

Equitable Learning Services (formally Disability Support Services)

Provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. 

Phone: 02 8374 9201; Email:

Nura Gili Indigenous Student Support 

Nura Gili's Academic Support Officers are available to assist Indigenous students 

Phone: 02 9385 3805 Email:

7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

This course is continually undergoing review and improvement. 

Student Response

Some students explained different engagement with the theory of change and logic model, preferring to learn the two elements of theory-driven evaluation concurrently. 

Some students emphasised interest in programs/organisations targeting both social and environmental outcomes.

Response to Student Feedback

In response to this feedback, as improvement to the course, we are introducing the theory of change and the logic model in the same session, with in-depth discussion in subsequent sessions, allowing students to reformulate the theory of change based on the detail of the logic model.

Examples throughout the course and exercises for the discussion forums include programs targeting both social and environmental outcomes, to showcase how the two types of outcomes coexist.

8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Module 1Introduction to social and environmental outcomes measurement

This module is an introduction to the developing world of impact measurement and to the challenges that social and environmental outcomes measurement brings. We begin by asking: what is social impact and why is it important to measure it? The impact of a program or initiative is the difference between the actual outcomes of the program and the counterfactual (what would have happened otherwise). But what constitutes a robust method for measuring the difference that a program or initiative makes? The module also examines the increased focus on outcomes measurement in the private and social sector, the capacity of organisations to undertake outcomes measurement across sectors and the funding of outcomes measurement. Ethics and politics of impact assessment are also discussed.

Assessment 3 : Participation
Week 2 Module 2Preparing for social and environmental outcomes measurement

Prior to conducting an impact assessment, it is important to ensure measurement is well received within the organisation/by the stakeholders engaged in the program, you have a good understanding of the program, the problem it seeks to solve and the people/parties engaging with the program. We first discuss what is necessary to ensure a culture of measurement within an organisation. Successful assessments of impact require that an organisation or program has clearly defined vision, mission, values, goals and objectives. These concepts sit at the foundation of all social and environmental impact assessment, but are often overlooked. 

Week 3 Module 3Evaluation

This unit introduces various types of evaluation - formative, summative, developmental, process, outcomes evaluation - before a discussion of theory-driven evaluation. Theory-driven evaluation is the most common type of program evaluation. It aims to test a program's or organisation's theory of change, with a focus on whether a program has achieved its stated objectives, or how a program intends to resolve a social problem.  We examine a theory of change for a program. We discuss evaluability assessment, or whether a program or intervention can and should be evaluated. This is an extremely important step that is often overlooked by organisations and evaluators.

Week 4 Module 4Logic model and the logframe matrix

Logic models are a way of articulating the theory of change underpinning a program or organisation. Logic models identify the inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes, which allow the examination of whether a program has or has not achieved its objectives and how it has done so.

Week 5 Module 5Recap and Review

Prepare group work for AT1

Week 6 Reflection Week
Week 7 Module 7Indicators and data sources for outcomes measurement. The Logframe matrix continued

The logic model approach differentiates between outcomes on the one hand and indicators and targets on the other hand. Indicators are the operational measures of outcomes. Developing or selecting indicators for outcomes is a very difficult and complex task. In this unit we set out selection criteria in mapping potential indicators from the outcomes specified and examine relevant instruments and measures and data sources. We also examine the differences between population level and program level outcomes and indicators. We discuss social and environmental outcomes measurement in the light of Sustainable Development Goals. We look at quantitative and qualitative research design, with a focus on survey design.

Assessment 1 : Evaluation plan (part 1)
Week 8 Module 8Impact evaluation. Experimental and quasi-experimental designs

In previous units we discussed types and principles of evaluation, the development of outcomes and indicators, and the various data sources to quantify indicators. In this unit we will focus on two approaches to assess the difference that a program or policy has made, the outcomes achieved due to its implementation. We will look at the principles underlying two quantitative approaches to establish the counterfactual (what would have occurred had the initiative not taken place) and evaluate impact: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs (QED).

Week 9 Module 9Economic assessment: Cost-benefit analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) are two approaches to investigate the economic value added by an intervention. CBA and CEA are precursors of Social Return on Investment (SROI). We will learn the basics of these two approaches, advantages and disadvantages and most appropriate settings for applying each before diving into the more complex SROI. 

Week 10 Module 10Social Return on Investment (SROI)

In this unit we will dive into the stages of Social Return on Investment (SROI). You will notice that some concepts used in this unit are similar to those introduced in previous units (logic models, outcomes and indicators, allocating a dollar value to non-monetary outcomes, etc.) as SROI builds on a wide range of concepts and approaches.

Week 11 Module 11Using research and evaluation for social and environmental change

The main purpose of evaluation is to drive change. Evaluation findings can be used to improve your organisation's performance, to demonstrate the value of your work to funders and wider audiences, to demonstrate the change you create, call for action (and funding) and influence policy. As such, utilizing and communicating evaluation findings is crucial for programs and organisations, and for people undertaking social impact assessment.

Assessment 2 : Evaluation plan (part 2)

9. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

​The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333