Michael Horsburgh is a graduate of the universities of Sydney and New South Wales who, after graduating, taught social policy in the School of Social Work at the University of New South Wales in 1971 and in the Social Work and Arts programs at the University of Sydney from 1972 to 1999. He was promoted senior lecturer in 1979 and associate professor in 1986.
Michael served as head of department on several occasions and was, for a period, head of the School of Studies in Religion. He retired in 1999 on reaching the age of 60. His principal academic interests were in the history of social policy in Australia, social security and child-welfare policy and the influence of Christianity on social policy. Since 1981 he has been a part-time member of the Australian Social Security Appeals Tribunal, of which he is now the longest serving member.
After retiring from academia, he served as chair of the Academic Board of the Sydney College of Divinity, which, in 2005, awarded him the degree of Doctor of Theology honoris causa. In 2001, Michael was awarded the Centenary Medal and in 2009 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the community through the Anglican Church and through theological and social work education.