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POLS520 New Zealand Government and Politics

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

In-depth analysis and evaluation of New Zealand political institutions and their role in policy making.

This course will enhance your capacity to understand, analyze, explain, and critically evaluate the historic shifts in policy-making that have dominated New Zealand’s political history since 1935, especially the shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism, the policy-making of the Key-English National Government, and the politics and policies of the Ardern Labour-led Government.

Paper title New Zealand Government and Politics
Paper code POLS520
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,713.25
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,512.50

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Limited to

Available to students eligible to enrol in 500-level MPols papers.


Teaching staff

Associate Professor Brian S. Roper

Paper Structure

The paper is structured around a consideration of the rise of the Keynesian welfare state, the post-war Keynesian consensus, and the shift from the Keynesian interventionism of the Muldoon Government to the neoliberalism of the Fourth Labour Government and the National dominated governments that followed it. We then investigate the question of whether or not the Fifth Labour Government’s so-called ‘Third Way’ really did chart a middle course between Keynesianism (the first way) and neoliberalism (the second way).

The Key-English National Government’s neoliberal policy agenda and the Arden Labour-led Government’s policy agenda are considered in the final section of the course. In the process we will be discussing all of the major areas of public policy: macroeconomic management, social welfare, employment relations, education, health, and public sector reform.

Teaching Arrangements

One three-hour seminar per week.


The formal assessment is weighted as follows:

  1. Three reading summaries (3 x 5%= 15%).
  2. Seminar presentation and essay (30%)
  3. Three-hour exam, that is worth 55%.Teaching Arrangements One three-hour seminar per week.

There is no required textbook for this course. The bulk of the reading material will be available in the Reserve Section of the Central Library or will be provided in the form of handouts.

Course outline

View a sample course outline for POLS 520. (Students taking this paper should refer to blackboard for the current course outline)

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation, Literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

This course helps you to:

  • Engage with theoretical perspectives that explain why governments do what they do.
  • Learn about New Zealand’s political past in order to develop a clearer understanding of the present.
  • Develop an awareness of the wider social and economic context, including inequality within society, to understand how social and economic forces shape politics and influence government.
  • Describe the main features of, and actors within, New Zealand’s distinctive political economy.
  • Know what government is and how it works.

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the methods of inquiry, the techniques and the procedures employed in the study of politics, as well as those employed in investigating particular political problems and phenomena;
  • Analyse written or oral communications in order to break them into constituent parts to make political ideas and assumptions clear and make the connections between ideas explicit;
  • Judge the appropriateness of methods used to solve political problems and evaluate whether to use methods if these bring about ends other than those desired;
  • Apply abstractions (general ideas and methods) to new and unfamiliar, particular and concrete situations;
  • Articulate ideas, feeling and experiences to others, both as a writer and speaker; and

Carry out self-directed and independent research.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Thursday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41