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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 looking at business models for social change, 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.


Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 1, Term 2, Term 3



Delivery Mode

Fully online

Indicative contact hours


Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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