Apply to GCSI at UNSW Sydney

Help make change for the better in corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Explore real-world case studies, frameworks and best practice to lead sustainable and systemic change.

Students undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact gain rich theoretical and real world case study knowledge that is directly applicable to leading meaningful and sustained cross-sectoral social change in Australia.

The Graduate Certificate program consists of 4 courses, one core course and 3 electives. Students start the UNSW program with the core compulsory course ie COMM5708 Social Impact which gives you an introduction to the social impact area. This foundation course also provides a platform for the rest of the program by touching on some of the other content areas that we offer specific courses in. In 2018 COMM5708 will be offered in MG1 and MG3 (online and face-to-face) and in MG2 (online only).

For further information or to discuss your program plans please contact our CSI Student Experience Team at or call 02 8936 0990.

How to Apply

Applications for our next intake, Session 1 2019 are now open. Places in our courses are limited. Applicants are advised to apply in advance of the close date to guarantee themselves a spot for our September intake.

For full details on how to apply to the GCSI Program, including eligibility, click here.


Scholarships are available for both new and continuing Graduate Certificate in Social Impact students.  Applications open on the 7th of November 2019.

We encourage all students to apply in our scholarship round. If you are a new applicant for our February intake please note your application does not have to been processed in order to put in a scholarship application, but you do need to provide evidence you have applied for the program (eg. your application ID). For futher information, including eligibility and application requirements, please click here.

Course Schedule

For a copy of the 2020 Graduate Certificate in Social Impact Course Schedule, CLICK HERE.

Go to Handbook


Collaboration for Social Impact (COMM 5713)

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.


Corporate Responsibility and Accountability (COMM 5709)

Students will first review 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 a business enterprise.

Then 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 business relationships with government.

Creating Shared Value (COMM 5710)

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.

Demonstrating Social Impact (COMM 5704)

This course includes discussion of the factors that have been driving the greater focus on social impact assessment as well as the benefits and limitations of evaluation more broadly. It examines the underpinning principles of evaluation and social impact assessment, including:

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Theories of change
  • Transparency
  • Ethics
  • Verification and assurance

Design for Social Innovation (COMM 5706)

This is not a course just for designers or for social entrepreneurs (though it's great for these people too) - this is for social innovators working in government, business and the not-for-profit sector who want practical know-how and creative models for driving positive change at a systems level.

Leadership for Social Impact (COMM 5902)

The course examine the following areas:

  • Leadership in the social economy and diagnosis models for leadership challenges
  • The challenges in achieving social benefit
  • Challenges and opportunities of leadership during a time of inflexion
  • Systems thinking for leaders, exploring models 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

Social Impact Field Study (COMM 5707)

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.

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.

Social Impact Investment (COMM 5703)

The course identifies the major changes reshaping the role of philanthropy and social finance both internationally and in the Australian context, including:

  • 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

Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation (COMM 5701)

The course first examines the social economy through the emerging spectrum of organisational forms that generate both social and economic value. This includes: traditional charities, social enterprises, socially responsible business and traditional corporations. It looks at why the traditional boundaries between government, business and the third sector have blurred and what that means for the capacity to deliver new forms of social impact.

Student Stories

Keira Morris-Akeroyd

  • Dec. 14, 2017

Keira is currently studying the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact.

In her role as part of the Corporate Partnerships team at Australian Red Cross Keira is responsible for designing, managing and growing strategic corporate partnerships that help Red Cross improve the wellbeing of those experiencing extreme vulnerability.

“What I’ve loved most about the course is that it has expanded my field of vision, built my practical capabilities and inspired me to look at new and innovative ways to contribute to positive social change.

It has enabled me to deepen my understanding of social impact and equipped me with the tools I need to be more effective in creating it. This is a result not only of CSI’s experienced and passionate staff, but also the diverse peer group that the course has allowed me to connect with.   

The course, and the network I have built as a result of it, has undoubtedly led to opportunities that are shaping my career trajectory in an exciting and meaningful way.”  


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