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Unit information: Power, Politics and the Policy Process in 2015/16

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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

This unit explores 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 and the role of individuals in shaping policy design. The concept of political power influences every stage of the policy process and forms a central strand running through the entire course. The unit introduces students to the main theories that seek to explain the nature of policy making and debates these in light of contemporary issues about the nature, scope and effecticeness of policy in modern societies.

This unit has three main 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

The unit will involve a mix of lectures, set reading, group discussions and practical exercises.

Assessment Information

An essay of 4000 words in which students should demonstrate an understanding of relevant theories and modes of policy making, and a familiarity with contemporary policy debates and different approaches to policy making.

Reading and References

Bovaird, T. and Loffler, E. (2009) Public Management and Governance 2nd edition, London, Routledge.

Cairney, P. (2012) Understanding Public Policy, Hampshire, Palgrave MacMillan.

Hill M. (2012) The Policy Public Policy Process: 6th Edition, London, Routledge (electronic version available).

John, P. (2012) Analyzing Public Policy, London, Routledge.

Torfing, J., Peters, G., Pierre, J. and Sorensen, E. (2012) Interactive Governance: Advancing the paradigm, Oxford, Oxford University Press. (electronic version available)

Raadschelders, J. (2013) Public Administration: The interdisciplinary study of government, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Walker, R.M., Boyne, G.A., Brewer, G.A. (2010) Public management and performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Welch, D. (2014) A guide to ethics and public policy: Finding our way, London, Routledge.