COMM5704 Demonstrating Social Impact - 2019

Online, Kensington
Term 1
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

Demonstrating Social Impact is a recommended elective subject for the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and an elective for those undertaking the MBA (Social Impact) programs. It is highly recommended that students complete (or study simultaneously) the core course, Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation, before enrolling in this elective course. Demonstrating Social Impact provides an overview and introduction to social impact assessment, outcome and indicator measurement, data collection methods and evaluation as well as the underpinning principles of process, impact and economic evaluation and social impact assessment. 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 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 social impact of their programs, initiatives, and investments.

The course will cover:

  • Rationale and Context: What is social impact? Why measure social impact? What does it mean to demonstrate social impact? the increased focus on outcomes measurement in the social sector; the funding of outcomes measurement;
  • Frameworks: An overarching framework for outcomes measurement and evaluation; the program logic framework and its application in specific contexts;
  • 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;
  • Evaluation: Underpinning principles of evaluation (stakeholder engagement, transparency, ethics, verification and assurance); process evaluation; impact evaluation; experimental and quasi-experimental approaches; theory-driven evaluation; participatory evaluation; economic evaluation; an introduction to Social Return on Investment; the practicalities and politics of evaluation; communicating findings;
  • 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; qualitative methods; methods of analysing quantitative and qualitative data; systematic reviews and meta-analysis; new developments in data - soft data, big data;
  • Applications and policy: Undertaking an applied outcomes measurement and evaluation exercise; evidence-based policy.

Additonal Course Details

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-ChargeIoana Ramia
By appointment

Dr Ioana Ramia is a Quantitative Research Associate at the Centre for Social Impact. With an economics and social policy background, Ioana has a great understanding of social policy and evaluation and ability to apply complex techniques to solve social problems. I

oana is passionate about social impact assessment and the development of outcome measurement tools. She was part of the team conceptualising indicators for social outcomes published in the Australia's Social Pulse (CSI 2016) and together with colleagues won the 2013 UNSW Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Award for Social Impact.

Ioana has completed research and evaluation for state government departments and nongovernmental organisations and has both academic and private consultancy sector expertise. She was previously employed by ARTD Consultants and the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC). Ioana completed her PhD in Social Science and Policy (UNSW) and MA in International Political Economy (University of Tsukuba, Japan).

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The teaching mode of delivery for this course is fully online. 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 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 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 Forum to engage in interactive learning. Each Unit (topic) will include a range of activities that you will complete throughout the respective week. 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 outside the classroom by working through the course materials, and by completing the exercises as they arise.
  2. Your facilitator'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

Unit 1: Introduction to demonstrating social impact

It is widely expected that programs and organisations, particularly in the government and third sectors, ought to be able to demonstrate the wider social impact of their efforts. Yet the ways in which social impact is demonstrated, what is measured, how and by whom, can be fraught with ambiguity and controversy. This unit aims to introduce you to the emergence of measuring social impact and the types of information that can be used to assess social impact. We will also examine some of the common challenges in demonstrating impact.

Unit 2: Preparing for social impact assessment

Successful assessments of social impact require that an organisation or program has a clearly defined vision, mission, values, goals and objectives. These concepts sit at the foundation of all social impact assessment but are often overlooked. We also discuss here complexity of social problems and how that impacts social impact assessment. We examine complexity through problem analysis. While ethics and politics are important to consider in all research, it is especially the case when we are considering the social impact of programs and organisations that are designed to assist people who are disadvantaged because of power imbalances between the organization and its clients. We will explore both the ethical and political ramifications of research into demonstrating social impact.

Unit 3: Theory-driven evaluation

Theory-driven program evaluation is the most common type of program evaluation. It aims to test a program or organisation's theory of change, with a focus on whether a program has achieved its stated objectives and to understanding why these objectives were (or were not) achieved. One key aspect in beginning social impact assessment is understanding your stakeholders; we will complete stakeholder analysis which will support the development of the theory of change and, later, the logic model.

Unit 4: Logic model (part 1)

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. We will look back at the problem tree and stakeholder analysis to understand how they support the development of the logic model. This week we focus on the first half of the logic model (inputs, activities and outcomes).

Unit 5: Logic model (part 2)

This week we complete the logic model started in Unit 4. Mapping outcomes that result from a program or initiative is the more complex part of the logic model. We will learn about different types of outcomes, and challenges in identifying outcomes that are well defined, achievable and measurable.

Unit 6: Outcomes framework: outcomes, indicators and data sources

An outcomes framework or outcomes hierarchy lays down the outcomes and provides the indicators to measure them and the data sources to quantify these indicators. We will learn techniques to develop sound indicators. We will discuss how different types of data (qualitative and quantitative) can support impact assessment.

Unit 7: Course Reflection Week

This Unit provides a week for reflecting on what we have learnt so far and how we can / will / are using this in our own practice. This week will also provide the opportunity for students to identify any topics that they would like to learn more about or that they would like more explanation or discussion on.

Unit 8: Data collection methods

This unit provides further details into some of the most common data collection methods: survey and interviews. We also discuss the emergence of new data sources, such as soft data and the use of technology for data collection.

Unit 9: Evaluation

It is important to consult with your stakeholders to understand the purpose of outcomes measurement. Depending of the purpose of measurement, you may conduct process evaluation, outcomes evaluation or both. We will learn principles of formative and summative evaluation, and developmental evaluation. Finally, the key concept in impact evaluation is the counterfactual - what would have occurred had the initiative not taken place? We will wrap up the Unit with two quantitative approaches to establish the counterfactual and evaluate impact: randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi- experimental design.

Unit 10: Assessing costs and outcomes: CBA, CEA and introduction to SROI

This unit discusses impact assessment methods that have traditionally looked to attach a dollar value to outcomes and impact. We will explore the steps of conducting a cost benefit analysis (CBA), compare this to the cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) and discuss risks and benefits of the two methods. Understanding CBA and CEA is the base for the larger and more complex Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology.

Unit 11: Conducting social return on investment (SROI)

The SROI methodology is a way of exploring how much value a program or organisation has created or destroyed with its activities. We examine the types of SROI and key principles underpinning this methodology. We also work through the stages of conducting a SROI. When conducting a social impact assessment, you will find that stakeholders have different understanding and assessment of outcomes and impact. We will look at how to establish a financial value for outcomes, how to ensure we don't over-claim and how to calculate a SROI ratio.

Unit 12: Communicating social impact

Communicating social impact is crucial for programs, organisations, and for people undertaking social impact assessment. We will get you thinking about the importance of communication, and how it can be done successfully through written, visual and oral approaches.

5. Course Resources

The website for this course is on Moodle at:

Login to Moodle with your student zID (username) and zPass (password).

If you encounter a technical problem while using Moodle, please contact the UNSW IT Service Desk via the following channels:

Telephone: +61 (2) 9385 1333
Phone and email support is available Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am - 2pm. Online service requests can be made via their website.


There are no prescribed textbooks for this course. Each Unit will have mandatory and optional readings. Links to all of these 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.

If you experience any problems in accessing the readings, please try the following:

  • Search directly for the article on the UNSW Library home page ( by placing the name of the article in the Search box.
  • Search directly for the book excerpt on the UNSW Library home page ( by placing your course code into the Search box. When you do this all the course readings that are excerpts from books will appear.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the Business School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. UNSW's myExperience process is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course we will seek your feedback through end of semester myExperience evaluations.

Student Response

Response to Student Feedback

7. Course Schedule

For AGSM academic calendars and key dates please visit
Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 ParticipationUnit 1: Introduction to demonstrating social impact

Participation - throughout the session (10%)

Participation : Online Participation
Week 2 -Unit 2: Preparing for social impact assessment
Week 3 -Unit 3: Theory-driven evaluation
Week 4 Essay dueUnit 4: Logic model (part 1)

Essay: 1,500 words due on Friday 15 March by 11:59pm Sydney time (20%)

Assessment 1 : Essay
Week 5 -Unit 5: Logic model (part 2)
Week 6 -Unit 6: Outcomes framework: outcomes, indicators and data sources
Week 7 -Unit 7: Data collection methods
Week 8 Team project dueUnit 8: Evaluation

Team project: 3,500 words due on Friday 12 April by 11:59pm Sydney time (30%)

Assessment 2 : Team Project
Week 9 -Unit 9: Impact evaluation
Week 10 -Unit 10: Assessing costs and outcomes: CBA, CEA and introduction to SROI
Week 11 -Unit 11: Conducting social return on investment (SROI)
Week 12 -Unit 12: Communicating social impact
Week 13 Individual report due

Individual report - Impact assessment: 3,500 words due on Sunday 19 May by 11:59pm Sydney time (40%)

Assessment 3 : Impact assessment

8. 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 Education Quality and support Unit (EQS)
The EQS offers academic writing, study skills and maths support specifically for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, and individual consultations.
Level 1, Room 1033, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 7577 or 02 9385 4508

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 Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational 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. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

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

Disability Support Services
UNSW 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 who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
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

Search Degrees

Find a degree or course