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Unit information: Power, Politics and the Policy Process in 2021/22

Unit name Power, Politics and the Policy Process
Unit code SPOLM1060
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Ayres
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Policy making is a commonplace activity but one which is often difficult to
understand and explain. During the last century a new discipline of policy
studies emerged and with it the promise that through a better understanding
of the nature of policy making, the content and impact of policy would be
improved. Policy studies is a sub-field of political science that tries to
understand and build up knowledge of the whole process of public policy
beginning from the big picture of the global economy through the complex
issues of which policies are chosen for inclusion on the political agenda,
who designs them, who delivers them and how, finally, they are evaluated.
The concept of political power influences every stage of the policy process
and as such is at the core of policy analysis. This unit introduces students
yo the concepts of politics and power and explores them in relation to key
theories of policy making:

Unit Aims
•To introduce students to the literature of policy studies and to the
development of the field over the last fifty years,

•To introduce the main theories that seek to explain the nature of policy
making, including agenda setting, policy formation, implementation and
policy evaluation,

•To enable students to apply these theories to understanding and explaining
various aspects of policy making in different settings.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit students should:

  • Understand the range of theories and models of the policy process,
  • Be able to critically review contemporary debates about the nature, scope and effectiveness of policy,
  • Be able to develop a better understanding of policy and policy making in their chosen fields.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involiving a combination of syncronic and asyncronic sessions, including online lectures, study groups and self-directed exercises

Assessment Information

Part 1: Public Policy Analysis (1000 words) (30%)

Part 2: Essay (3000 words) (70%)

Both assessments cover ILOs 1-3.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOLM1060).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.