COMM5902 Leadership for Social Impact - 2022

Subject Code
Study Level
Commencing Term
Term 2
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Delivery Mode
UNSW Business School
The course outline is not available for current term. To view outlines from other years and/or terms, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

Leadership is not about popularity, but it does rely on influence.

Leadership is not the sole territory of formal leaders and bosses, but they do set the tone for the organisational culture.

Leadership is not just about how you work; it's about how you live your life. It's about relationships and human connection.

It's how you bring the personal to the professional and practice moral courage, mindfulness and creativity at work.

Whether you work in the corporate, NFP or government sector, your approach to leadership can be purposeful and ethics-based. Leaders from all sectors can create positive social impact. As the sectors increasingly work together it is useful to understand the leadership styles preferred by different types of organisations.

This course is underpinned by the idea that leadership is not a position you have; it is a set of values and behaviours that you practice. We explore your leadership practice at all stages of your career, whether you are an intern, consultant, manager or CEO.

Through in-depth case studies and leadership theories, you will compare and contrast the dominant approaches to leadership in each sector. You will be able to recognise complexity and its role in your leadership practice.

At the conclusion of the course, you will understand the different approaches to leadership and how to implement leadership initiatives in your personal and professional endeavours.

The course is an elective in the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and the MBAX (Social Impact) programs but is also suitable for other postgraduate students[1] with an interest in learning more about leadership.

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

Leadership for Social Impact will help you understand how leadership and people-management practices can enhance the success and sustainability of organisations, whether large or small. The aim of the course is to foster the development of the analytical and practical competencies needed to enhance your own leadership practices. For students undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (GCSI) or the MBA (Social Impact) this course complements your understanding of positive social change developed in COMM5701 Social Impact. For other postgraduate students, this course will provide you with a foundation in leadership and people-management principles, and an understanding of leadership for positive change, that can be extended and developed in other courses.

Please note there are no prerequisites for this course.

Additional Course Details

There are no prescribed textbooks for this course. Each Unit (topic) 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.

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course AuthorityDilan ThampapillaiCentre for Social Impact, 704, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8) (SEB)+61 2 8936 0909By appointment

Course Authority: Dilan Thampapillai

Dr Dilan Thampapillai is an Associate Professor and Director of Education at the Centre for Social Impact UNSW. Dilan's particular expertise is in contracts, inequality, artificial intelligence and intellectual property, and he has published over forty law review articles and book chapters. His forthcoming monograph book with Hart Press addresses contractual exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dilan has written articles on the inter-relationship between artificial intelligence and copyright law and he has presented his research at a number of forums including Jesus College, Cambridge University and at the WIPO-WTO Colloquium for IP Academics. He has also authored a text on Contract Law and has co-authored a text on Commercial Law with Cambridge University Press. Dilan is an incredibly experienced academic with significant experience in curriculum design, program management and student experience.

4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

You are encouraged to develop an inquiry-based approach to your learning and will be supported in this throughout the course by a clear teaching strategy. The teaching model in the online class is fully online. The COMM5902 online 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 teachers. 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 constructivist teaching approach will be used that will help to support deeper student engagement and outcomes in the online classes. Each unit (topic) will include a range of activities that you will complete before and after the week in which that unit is offered. Indicative time frames will be provided to support your learning in this way. Extensive use will be made of the course Moodle site. 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 activities.
  2. Your classes are online in the Moodle site. 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 assessments, and directing discussions that will occur between you and your co-participants.
  3. Your co-participants. Your co-participants are an invaluable potential source of learning for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and argue with the course materials, the facilitator and your views, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning.

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.

Unit 1: Introduction - Social impact and the social purpose ecosystem. We begin this course with a discussion of the approach to learning adopted here. We then consider the broader context within which leadership for social impact can take place - the social purpose ecosystem - and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities presented by this context. 

Unit 2: Traditional approaches to the study of leadership. As the context for social impact becomes increasingly challenging, the need for leadership increases. This week we consider some key elements of leadership as well as some traditional approaches to the study of leadership. 

Unit 3: Leadership across sectors. This Unit addresses leadership for the third sector and recognises the key features of complex adaptive challenges and systems thinking. You will consider why distributed or shared leadership is essential for creating social impact and reflect on your own leadership practice in the light of the concepts introduced in this Unit. 

Unit 4: Leadership and social impact values. Unit 4 investigates leadership and social impact values. You will identify and describe the main elements of authentic leadership. You will then reflect on the meaning of values-based leadership and how it applies to your own leadership-development journey. Finally, you will be able to identify features of third-sector cultures and some related challenges for leaders. 

Unit 5: Understanding yourself as leader. In Unit 5 we turn the spotlight onto you - as a potential leader or agent of change in your own domain. The concepts and activities featured this week will become central elements of Assessment 3 (your Personal Action Plan). 

Unit 6: Leadership and strategising workshop. Unit 6 shifts the focus once again - this time to a leading and strategising workshop that involves some hands-on, small-team exercises. You will recall that in Unit 4 we discussed values - or purpose-based leadership - and saw how this was a key element of leadership for social impact. Here we turn to some practical tools for collectively engaging key stakeholders in a shared journey. 

Unit 7: Ethical leadership. Ethical behaviour is a vital element of the leadership process. In this Unit you will consider how organisations in the social economy are typically dependent on public trust and goodwill and 'are instrumental and indispensable in building social capital' (Jeavons 2005, p. 179). You will also balance this by considering a complex array of stakeholders and perspectives. 

Unit 8: Leading and engaging your workforce. Unit 8 addresses leading and engaging your workforce. You will begin by acknowledging how employee and volunteer commitment and engagement is a key leadership responsibility, before identifying the three facets of employee/volunteer organisational commitment. You will then consider management practices and cultural elements that engender affective commitment and workforce engagement. 

Unit 9: Managing change for social impact. In Unit 9 we consider the key elements of organisational change processes and identify how barriers to change might be overcome. The second part of this Unit investigates how leaders can initiate and manage change that is effective, ethical and sustainable.  

Unit 10:  Power and Influence. Understanding power and influence is crucial for future leaders. This Unit enables you to apply some key strategic thinking tools to an actual organisational scenario, before identifying some limitations of, and possibilities for, these tools. It concludes by supporting you to work collaboratively on a series of tasks. 

Unit 11: This week we consider leadership for social impact in practice, as we share the findings of your group project research with the class. In the online class, each group will upload their 10-minute presentation in which they will 'pitch' their case for their leadership program.  

Unit 12: In our last week, we review where we have come in the course and continue the reflection process about your own leadership journey.

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

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.

COMM5902 Leadership for Social Impact has been developed through a sustained process of stakeholder consultation, planning and design. In this course we will evaluate and use your course-level feedback, both quantitative and qualitative, to guide our process of continuous improvement through the ongoing review and redesigning of the course.

Student Response

Students have requested smaller team sizes for the project

Response to Student Feedback

We now have the option of about three students per team, depending on your program.

8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Unit 1, forum discussionUnit 1: Introduction: Social impact and the social purpose ecosystem.

Participation is assessed throughout the course (20%)

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 2 Unit 2, forum discussionUnit 2: Traditional approaches to the study of leadership
Week 3 Unit 3, forum discussionUnit 3: Leadership across sectors
Week 4 Unit 4, forum discussionUnit 4: Leadership and social impact values

Formative feedback given on online participation weeks 2 - 4

Week 5 Unit 5, forum discussionUnit 5: Understanding yourself as leader
Week 6 Unit 6, forum discussion Unit 6: Leadership and strategising workshop

Assessment 2: Team Project

Part A - Oral Presentation (15%) due Sunday 10 July, 11.59pm Sydney time

Assessment 2 : Team Project Part A Individual Oral Presentation
Week 7 Unit 7, forum discussionUnit 7: Ethical leadership
Week 8 Unit 8, forum discussionUnit 8: Leading and engaging your workforce
Week 9 Unit 9, forum discussionUnit 9: Managing change for social impact

Assessment 2: Team Project

Part B - Team Report (25%) due Sunday 31 July, 11.59pm Sydney time

Assessment 2 : Team Project Part B Team Report
Week 10 Unit 10, forum discussionUnit 10: Power and Influence
Week 11 Unit 11, forum discussionUnit 11: Leadership for social impact in practice.
Week 12 Unit 12, forum discussionUnit 12: Review

Assessment 3: Personal Action Plan (40%) due Monday, 15 August, 11.59pm Sydney time

Assessment 3 : Personal Action Plan

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