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Graduate Diploma in Social Impact

Gain advanced skills in corporate social responsibility, philanthropy and social venture development.

  • Overview
  • Program structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
  • FAQs

The Graduate Diploma in Social Impact develops socially-responsible leadership abilities in private, public and social sector professionals. Graduates create social and environmental value and drive innovation in dynamic, cross-sector social landscapes.

Why choose this graduate diploma?

The Graduate Diploma in Social Impact is delivered in a combination of face-to-face and online courses designed for working professionals. The intensive face-to-face classes are taught over two full weekends to provide minimal impact to your personal and professional lives.

Designed for a new generation of leaders, you will build skills to drive social innovation, drive corporate responsibility, develop social enterprises and lead organisations to create social and environmental value.

Graduates are eligible to apply into the AGSM MBAX (Social Impact), to further develop their business acumen and look at social impact through a managerial lens.

UNSW Business School is a leading business school in the Asia-Pacific, with our subjects consistently ranking within the top 50 worldwide. Our students build professional networks among more than 90,000 Business School alumni worldwide and begin their new career before graduation.

During this postgraduate degree you will have access to a suite of professional development opportunities offered by Career Accelerator, that are exclusive to UNSW’s Business School students. Career Accelerator helps you build industry connections through networking, mentoring, internships and global business practicums opportunities.

Who is this degree for?

  • Professionals working in the social sector who are committed to meeting corporate social responsibilities and are looking to develop expert skills
  • Professionals working in the business sector looking to change career paths into the social impact sector
  • Professionals looking to seek a leadership career in social enterprises within community groups

Job and career prospects

The graduate diploma may lead to further studies in Social Impact, which will open up many career opportunities in:

  • Not-for-profit and government departments
  • Community and research groups
  • Public sector
  • Consulting firms
  • Educational institutions

The Graduate Diploma in Social Impact consists of eight courses (48 UOC): 1 core course, plus 7 elective courses.

Core course

COMM5701 Social Impact

This course examines the accelerating economic relationship between government, business and the third sector to deliver social (including environmental) value in communities and the way in which this drives social innovation.

The course first examines the social economy through the emerging spectrum of organisational forms that generate both social and economic value: from traditional charities, to social enterprises, through to socially responsible business and traditional corporations. Second, the course examines trends and drivers re-shaping the dynamics of social impact.

The course examines the ways in which these changes drive social innovation and it concludes with a review of global trends and organisations that effect social change and impact.

Choose seven courses from the following

COMM5703 Social Impact Investment

Major changes are reshaping the role of philanthropy both internationally and in the Australian context:

  • Global economic realignments, the privatisation of community services
  • New patterns of wealth distribution and of inter-generational wealth transfer
  • Greater expectations of the role of corporate citizenship and of corporate philanthropy

These forces are also extending the meaning of philanthropy by encouraging the growth of new forms of social investment, in which commercial enterprise is being shaped by social as well as financial goals, to create innovative, and sometimes hybrid, models of sustainable community services, environmental protection and social development, as well as new business opportunities.

This course will introduce the history, core concepts and current issues in the fields of philanthropy, fundraising and social investment. It will also examine patterns of fundraising and giving, ethical and philosophical perspectives and the management and legal aspects of social investment programs.

COMM5704 Demonstrating Social Impact

Demonstrating Social Impact is an elective subject for the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and M Com, MBT or AGSM MBA programs. It provides an overview and introduction to evaluation and social impact assessment, the underpinning principles of evaluation and social impact assessment and examines some of the key social impact measurement approaches increasingly used by leading Third sector organisations in Australia and internationally, including Logic Models such as LogFrame; Social Return on Investment (SROI); and Social Accounting and Audit (SAA). Other frameworks used to measure the impact of corporate social initiatives will also be discussed.

The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply social impact frameworks and methodologies at a project and organisational level.

COMM5706 Design for Social Innovation

Social innovation, the outcome of the work of social entrepreneurs and others can be developed in almost any context. It is often a response to an identified problem, issue or opportunity. Design thinking and methods take a whole systems, rather than a silo, approach to offer different perspectives to the traditional business tools.

Design for Social Innovation offers participants the opportunity to learn and apply design tools and methods to real projects with a focus on social outcomes.

This course is an elective subject for the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, and an elective available for all postgraduate students. It provides an overview and introduction to the role and application of design concepts in social innovation and social enterprise.

The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply design principles at a project or organisational level.

COMM5707 Social Impact Field Project

This course is an individual student driven project bringing together learning from the core COMM5708 along with 2 Elective courses. It applies the cumulative learning of students' three previous courses so it cannot be studied until the student has completed three GCSI courses.

This course places students, through negotiation, with an agreed suitable host, in a practical working environment with a social impact focus. Students may choose to work individually, or in a team of two.

Students will work at least one day a fortnight at a host organisation’s premises on a project with a social impact focus agreed between the organisation, the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact Program Director and the student(s).

Suitable projects should come from any of the areas studied in the other Graduate Certificate courses: social enterprises, the measurement of social value creation, social finance, leadership for social impact, corporate responsibility and accountability. The course has no formal classes; all sessions are arranged between the supervisor and the student. The course requires a written interim and final report.

COMM5709 Corporate Responsibility and Accountability

Corporate Responsibility and Accountability is a specialist course for the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and an elective for those undertaking the Master of Commerce or MBA or MBT Programs. It examines how business manages its social, environmental and economic impact on society.

The course first reviews the historical evolution and development of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Citizenship and why it is now a key part of managing the business enterprise.

Second, the course examines what acting responsibly means for corporations in terms of the market, community, environment, workplace and government. Issues covered include business and human rights, business-community partnerships, corporate philanthropy, the human resource management implications of CSR, business and the environment and businesses’ relationship with government.

Third, the course examines how business accounts for its behaviour and impact in society through sustainability reporting and the role of external assurance and outlines debates on the appropriate role of government policy in either regulating and/or enabling responsible corporate behaviour.

COMM5710 Creating Shared Value

Creating Shared Value (CSV) is a business strategy aimed at enhancing a company’s competitiveness through finding business opportunities through addressing social problems. As an organisation and business ethos, CSV seeks greater integration of organisational economic imperatives with the identification of social needs that can be addressed via the expansion of economic markets and business innovation. Complementing existing strategies of corporate philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, CSV is aimed at creating shared value by reconceiving products and markets, increasing productivity in the value chain, and enabling development of clusters of stakeholders. This course will examine the fundamentals of CSV and how businesses might co-create sustainable financial and social value.

COMM5713 Collaboration for Social Impact

This course examines key concepts and frameworks of sector collaboration and develops your capacities to undertake highly effective collaboration with existing and emerging partners. Primary topic areas include: cross-sectoral leadership, building and sustaining strategic partnerships, creative collaborative management, collaboration dilemmas and tensions and effective collaboration design and implementation. In completing this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge and frameworks required to develop and sustain cross sectoral collaborations to achieve social impact and outcomes. You will also have the opportunity to develop a range of skills and competencies that can be applied to build collaborative partnerships with government, business and the third sector within your workplace.

COMM5902 Leadership for Social Impact

Leadership for Social Impact is designed for a new generation of leaders

  • Those who seek a leadership career in social enterprises, and those already in the sector who wish to enhance their professional capacity to create social and environmental value through leadership of third sector/not-for-profit organisations
  • Those who aspire to hold executive positions in companies which are committed to maximising social benefit and meeting corporate responsibilities through their products and practices
  • Those who wish to become senior public administrators working with community groups, or public service executives with a responsibility for developing the public policy framework
  • Those individuals and foundations that seek to ensure that their social investment is applied to greatest social impact

The course provides students with an introduction to the challenges and opportunities of leading organisations with the purpose of improving social outcomes.

The course will examine the following areas:

  • Current challenges in achieving social benefit
  • Leadership in the social economy
  • Challenges and opportunities of leadership during a time of inflexion
  • A model of leadership centred on identifying adaptive challenges for leaders
  • Intervention of leaders and practices for more effective and positive social outcomes
  • New forms of organising designed to address breakdowns in the social economy
  • Governance systems and demands
  • Diagnosis of leadership challenges

There are 3 categories of entry.

Category A

To be eligible for the program, you need to have:

  • A recognised bachelor degree (or equivalent qualification) with a credit average (65% or higher) as determined by the UNSW Postgraduate Coursework Entry Calculator; and
  • At least 2 years full-time relevant work experience


Category B

Professionals without a bachelor degree can apply to the program if they have:

  • At least 5 years full-time relevant work experience in government, corporate or not-for-profit sector.


Category C

Students completing the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (with a minimum overall WAM of 65) are able to articulate into the Graduate Diploma of Social Impact with full course credit given.

  • At least 5 years full-time relevant work experience in government, corporate or not-for-profit

The UNSW English Language requirements also apply to this program.

Supporting documentation

Applicants need to provide a detailed resume (outlining relevant competencies and achievements) and evidence of other academic and professional qualifications.

How to apply

You can apply for this program online:

There are three intakes per year. Applications are assessed on a session by session basis.

Term Application Open Application CloseClasses StartClasses End
Term 1 2021
17 September 2020
15 January 2021
15 February 2021
13 May 2021
Term 2 2021
15 February 2021
30 April 2021
31 May 2021
26 August 2021
Term 3 2021
4 June 2021
13 August 2021
13 September 2021
9 December 2021

NB: Turnaround time is estimated at 2-3 weeks. Any applications or supporting documentation received after the close date will be rolled over to the next session intake.

We know you're busy balancing postgraduate study with your personal and other work commitments. So UNSW Business School's dynamic learning spaces, facilities and student support helps you make the most of every day on campus.

Expand your professional network

Your postgraduate cohort is more than a valuable future business network – you'll make lifelong friends in class and at a range of social events. Join a student club – there are more than 180 social, cultural, sports and professional clubs to choose from. The Graduate Student Association is a great place to start.  Find out more

All the support you need to achieve

If it has been a while since you last studied, you may need to brush up on your skills. We'll help with study skills workshops and Career Mentoring programs. Our Meet the Executive series offers unique behind the scenes business insights and the Business School's LEAD Business Leadership program, as well as many other orientation, leadership and mentor programs, can open the door to new opportunities. Find out more

Stay active on campus

Exercise boosts your mental wellbeing and can help you deal with exam or assignment pressures. It's easy to stay fit with state of the art sporting facilities on campus, including a 50m indoor pool, fitness centre, squash courts and a range of competitive sports teams. Find out more

Everything you need in one place

The UNSW Kensington campus is like a village hub, with cafes, bars, banks, a post office, medical and dental centres as well as retail outlets. It's a short bus trip to Sydney's CBD, many beautiful beaches, the SCG and Centennial Park, and movie theatres at Fox Studios. Find out more

Make the most of every opportunity

Your postgraduate degree is a unique chance to get a new perspective on life. So get involved – as well as student clubs and social activities there are internships, volunteer projects, competitions and international exchanges on offer. It's a great way to further develop your leadership, project management or specialist skills.

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Graduate Diploma
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Study Mode
Face to face
1 – 1.5 years
Commencing terms
Term 1 – January
Term 2 – June
Term 3 – September
Course fee*
Program fee (total)*
* Fees are indicative only

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