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Unit information: Informing and Evaluating Policy - Research Methods and Analysis in 2021/22

Unit name Informing and Evaluating Policy - Research Methods and Analysis
Unit code SPOLM1061
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Yiming Wang
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the use of quantitative and qualitative techniques and data analysis in a public policy. It demonstrates the application and analysis of quantitative and qualitative techniques to primary and secondary sources. It considers - questionnaire design; sampling techniques, statistical inference and experimental design; interviewing, focus groups, case studies and analysis of documents. The strengths and weakness of different quantitative and qualitative techniques are explored along with issues relating to the use of comparative data. All these topics will be explored via the use of public policy case studies.

The unit aims to:

  • familiarise students with the principles of good research design, methods selection and appropriate analysis.
  • Explore key quantitative and qualitative methods that inform policy research.
  • Familiarise students with techniques of analysis for both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Explore the complementarities of quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • evaluate research design in different areas of policy research
  • understand the principles and practicalities of appropriate methods
  • understand the principles and practicalities of data analysis
  • be able to interpret and evaluate quantitative data in different forms

Teaching Information

The unit will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including online lectures, study groups and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

A written assignment of 4,000 words requiring students to demonstrate a critical understanding of research design, methods selection, data analysis and interpretation pertaining to academic research on public policy (100% and linked to ILO 1-4).


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. SPOLM1061).

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.