COMM5701 Social Impact - 2020

Term 2
6 Units of Credit
UNSW Business School

Offering Selection
This course outline is for the current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

COMM5701 Social Impact is the core course in the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and the MBAX (Social Impact) programs. It is highly recommended that students take COMM5701 either as their first Social Impact course (or one of the courses in their first study session that includes Social Impact courses). 

The course is an introduction to Social Impact covering fundamental concepts and key developments in what has become a complex social purpose eco-system. The course introduces an understanding of changes across what was formerly seen as a distinct social sector to examine the cross-sectoral social purpose developments that includes traditional organisational structures of Charities and Not For-Profits, Business and Government, but also new and emerging 'hybrid' structures and programs. The course will further explore how intractable social, economic and environmental problems embedded in society are being addressed through social innovation in business entrepreneurship, enterprises and cross-sector collaboration. It looks at why the traditional boundaries between government, business and the social sector have become blurred and fluid and what that means for the capacity to deliver new forms of social impact.  

Fundamental tools and concepts are introduced, starting with a foundation in systems thinking and the application of critical thinking tools and systems mapping. The course develops an understanding of systems thinking and the theory of how to address complex social issues or 'wicked problems' through application of these tools. Key concepts are further explored of measuring and funding impact, scaling, leadership and collaboration. The course examines the trends and drivers reshaping the dynamics of social impact and the changing role of government from provider to enabler. The course reviews changes in the social purpose ecosystem, including the 'hybridity' of social enterprises and social businesses, social procurement, social value creation, new forms of philanthropy and social impact investment.  

Through a focus on innovation and case studies, the course examines the ways in which individuals and organisations can contribute to developing new ways of collaborating by government, business and the social sector. It explores how system change is possible through these changes driven social innovation and concludes with a review of global trends and organisations that effect social change and impact. There is an emphasis on communication and application of the course concepts. 

In a course like this, with a broad overview, we touch on key themes, delving into some in greater depth than others. However, the case studies discussed in the weekly discussion forums and covered in Assessments will provide opportunities to explore many of the themes in more detail. 


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.

The course is delivered online over 12 weeks from Monday 1 June until Friday 21 August 2020. No face-to-face attendance is required but online participation is treated as equivalent to attendance and the UNSW Business School requirement of 80% attendance applies to online participation and activities. Students are expected to be online in O week, from 25 May 2020.  

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

The course aims to develop an awareness and critical understanding of social impact and the accelerating economic relationship between the public (government), private (business) and the social (not-for-profit) sectors; the way this relationship is driving the delivery of social and environmental value in communities; and the way in which this accelerating economic relationship drives social innovation, both globally and locally. 

It aims to equip participants with a cross-sector understanding of key social impact concepts as they apply to the social purpose ecosystem, and to use this understanding to operate effectively in this changed and changing environment. 

Additonal 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 AuthoritySuzanna Mahinder
By appointment only

Suzanna Mahinder is a Lecturer and Course Authority for the Centre for Social Impact and Facilitator at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), Executive MBA/ MBAx courses at the University of New South Wales. She facilitates across a range of subjects such as Managing People & Organisations, Leadership, Managing Organisational Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility & Accountability and Creating Shared Value.

Suzanna is passionate about developing people. She is particularly interested in the area of student engagement. The rationale behind her approach to Learning & Teaching is to respect and support the development of students as individuals by practising a learner-centred, problem based approach that reflects real life practice. This focus has led her to reflect on feedback and continuously improve her approach to facilitation, so as to motivate and inspire students to learn.

Suzanna has won several teaching awards including the Marcus Cohen Award for Teaching Excellence, 2018, University of New South Wales Business School,and the Facilitator Award for Teaching Excellence 2013 - AGSM at the University of New South Wales.


Centre for Social Impact, 704, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8) (referred to as SEB)

Online Course Facilitator: Nicole Moore 

Contact details via moodle. 

Centre for Social Impact Student Administration

Centre for Social Impact Student Team

Phone No: 02 8936 0990


4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The teaching model in the online class is fully online. You are encouraged to develop an inquiry-based approach to your learning with your facilitator guiding your learning using a Community of Inquiry model. The Moodle site will provide access to multimedia 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 topics being examined. 


Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

In order to maximise the collaborative and experiential nature of this course, a 'flipped' learning and teaching approach will be used that will help to support deeper student engagement and outcomes. The flipped approach means you do reading and researching independently and use group discussion time for active and interactive learning. Each Unit (topic/module) will include a range of learning materials and activities that you will complete before and after the unit is offered. You have three major resources to help you learn:

      1. The course materials comprising readings, references, insights and commentary for each unit. You will do much of your learning independently by working through the course materials and conducting research, but you will also work collaboratively in workshops and on team work assessments.
      1. Your class discussions are an important part of your on campus attendance. Your facilitator's role is to guide your learning by conducting class discussions, asking and addressing questions relevant to unit topics and readings, prompting insights from practical experience and understanding of theory.
      1. 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.

Course Structure

To create and foster a positive online learning environment this course draw on the Community of Inquiry teaching model (see below) and is structured to ensure the group moves through the course together. This course is delivered fully online with 12 online units delivered over 12 weeks. Each unit consists of workbooks, learning materials and online activities. All activities including online discussion forums must be completed each week.  

6. Course Resources

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

• Centre for Social Impact (CSI)  

Email: Phone: 02 8936 0990.

• Business Student Centre  

Office: Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building; Phone: 9385 3189.

• 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:

• 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. Office: Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building; Phone: 9385 4734; Email:


7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

This course has recently one through a considerable rewrite, including a digital uplift. This process incorporated student feedback and industry perspectives on graduate education as well as the latest resources developed by the Centre for Social Impact.  

We welcome feedback on the course structure through myExperience and directly to the course authority.

Student Response

The Centre for Social Impact introductory graduate course has consistently received highly positive feedback from students. One reason for this is that course delivery is responsive to students' needs (for example scheduling webinars at times that suit all participants). We have further built on this, for example where more feedback for assignments was requested.  

Response to Student Feedback

Additional feedback including a marking rubric have been introduced to the assessment results. 


8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Online learning materials, readings and discussionIntroduction to Social Impact; the market context

Week 0: Course Outline, Academic Honesty, Introduction forum

Week 1: Complete unit 1, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 2 Online learning materials, readings and discussionProblem definition and approach: Theory Understanding Social Impact

Week 2: Complete unit 2, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 3 Online learning materials, readings and discussionProblem definition and approach: Application Communicating Social Impact

Week 3: Complete unit 3, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 4 Online learning materials, readings and discussionSocial Enterprises and Hybridity; Purpose, structure and innovation

 Week 4: Complete unit 4, Participation in discussion forum

Formative feedback for online participation will be provided at the end of Week 4

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 5 Online learning materials, readings and discussionSocial Entrepreneurship and Innovation: case studies

Week 5: Complete unit 5, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 6 Online learning materials, readings and discussionFunding for Impact; philanthropy, social impact investment and resources

Week 6: Complete unit 6, Participation in discussion forum


Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 7 Online learning materials Reflective practice

Week 7: Mind-mapping activity and reflection


Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 8 Online learning materials, readings and discussionSocial Impact Assessment; Measuring and evaluating

Week 8: Complete unit 8 * Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 9 Online learning materials, readings and discussionScaling for Social Impact

Week 9: Complete unit 9, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 2 : Part A: Case analysis group presentation
Week 10 Online learning materials, readings and discussionPartnering and Collaborating for Impact

Week 10: Complete unit 10, Participation in discussion forum

Assessment 2 : Part B: Case analysis written report
Week 11 Online learning materials, readings and discussionSocial Impact Leadership

Week 11: Complete unit 11, Participation in discussion forum


Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 12 Online learning materials, readings and discussionPitching for Social Impact

Week 12: Complete unit 12, Participation in online activity - pitching for impact forum

Assessment 3 : Written reflection

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

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