- ARCHIVE as at 1 September 2013 for reference only

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Politics of Public Policy (PGSP11309)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits15
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course seeks to acquaint students with the literature on policy-making and on the principles of public policy from the perspective of the institutions and practices of political systems. It is particularly concerned with the exploration of issues which cross the remits of different levels of government (local, regional/provincial, nation-state, supranational, international). The course provides a framework for a discussion of the mechanisms and processes of government, presented in a way that facilitates comparative analysis of political systems at multiple levels of government. The course aims to equip students with applied knowledge of policy-making, and will also enable students to build a critical understanding of the degree of value of general models and concepts of the policy-making process. Finally, the course will also bring together academic expertise and practical experience, by inviting policy practitioners to present case studies on issues of policy or administrative concern.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 150 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 3, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 147 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. To have an in-depth applied knowledge about the structures and processes of policy-making within and across multiple spheres of government
2. To understand the relation between policy development through rationalist models of the policy process and through events-driven, reactive governing styles
3. To be able to apply theories and insights from scholarly enquiry to practical issues and problems of public policy.
4. To reflect upon the politics of policy-making in a range of international contexts since the financial crisis of 2008
5. To locate relevant information on policy-making processes through library and IT resources and to analyse and present these in a professional fashion
6. To exercise informed independent thought and critical judgement, as well as demonstrate collaborative and team-working skills
Assessment Information
The course will be assessed through the following means:

60% Policy Brief (3,000 words)
30% 48 hour project
10% Participation and Attendance

Policy Brief
Students will draw on the class discussions and readings to analyse a substantive policy issue of their choosing. Their goal will be to investigate and develop a workable solution to the policy problem, using the theories, analytical skills and techniques they have learned in this course (in addition to the Analysis for Policy course). Students will then submit this analysis in the form of a 'policy brief' (maximum 3,500 words), that is written in a professional manner, concluding with specific policy recommendations.

The 48 Hour Project
In small groups of 3-4 people, students will be given the goal of writing an 'issue memo' to a postulated 'client organisation' (i.e. a government department, NGO, international institution) about a public policy issue they know little or nothing about. They will be given 48-hours to solve the problem and complete the project. At the end of this period, students will present their policy analysis and recommendations to the rest of the class, using powerpoint and other visual aids, and the team are given an overall grade. Topics are developed by the course convenor and assigned to students randomly. The exercise assesses students' abilities, as a group, to analyse and resolve policy challenges. It is intended to simulate a real-life work environment in which rapid-response skills are key.

Participation and attendance
Students are encouraged and expected to actively participate in class. This includes preparing for class by means of study questions, readings and assignments. Students may have up to two 'excused' absences but will be expected in this case to make up the work. Since students will be working in a team some of the time, they will also need to inform their team and discuss with their team members how to make a continuous contribution. Communication is a key skill, as is the ability to develop and test arguments in classes.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 1. 'Politics matters' theories
Topics addressed: veto points, legislative behaviour, government formation, reconciliation of party policies, role of political parties
Case-study: coalition formation in Germany, Scotland, UK; majority-building for health care reform in the US

2. Analysing the policy process
Topics addressed: definition of the policy process, agenda-setting, process streams, street-level bureaucratic implementors, use of evidence
Case-study: policy formation in the time-frame of a single administration e.g. US, UK, Germany

3. Theories of governance and governability
Topics addressed: the role of government in governance and societal steering, the distribution of responsibility for the overall performance of the social and economic system
Case-study: 'big society' and 'we're all in this' themes of UK government

4. Policy and the regulatory state
Topics addressed: types of public policy instruments, positive and regulatory state systems, definition of regulatory bodies, use of private and non-profit providers and arm's length state instruments
Case-study: contract provision of public services (e.g. health, employment activation)

5. Forces for stability in the system: interests, institutions and ideas
Topics addressed: institutionalism, legal inheritances, protocols of consultation, structure of political parties, interest group behaviour, resistance to cuts and changes
Case-study: cutbacks in pension provision

6. Constraints on change: path dependency, inertia and lock-in
Topics addressed: path-dependent policies, incrementalism, orders of change, public sector reform, changing paradigms on economic policy and public finances
Case-study: international variations in health systems

7. Theories of Policy Learning and Transfer
Topics addressed: coercive and voluntary learning over space and time
Case-study: influence of world and European financial bodies on deficit reduction policies in 2010

8. Political power in the core executive
Topics addressed: elected politicians and unelected officials, power of the bureaucratic machine, attempts at co-ordination, central institutions supporting the head of government and finance functions
Case-study: policy-making capability supporting heads of government

9 Multi-level governance/horizontal differentiation
Topics addressed: theories of multi-level government, EU and devolution, service delivery at the local and individual level
Case-study: the international presence of intermediate governments (e.g. in EU)

10. Ethics/values in public policy
Topics addressed: transparency, equality standards, evidence-based policy, means of redress, accountability of public officials, roles of media and whistleblowers
Case-study: wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list - Michael Hill, The Public Policy Process (Pearson Longman 5th ed 2009)
- Michael Hill and Peter Hupe, Implementing Public Policy (Sage 2nd ed 2009)
- John Hudson and Stuart Lowe, Understanding the Policy Process (Policy Press 2nd ed 2009)
- Michael Moran, Martin Rein and Robert E. Goodin eds, Oxford Handbook of Public Policy (Oxford University Press 2006, paperback edn 2008)
- Paul Sabatier (ed), Theories of the Policy Process (Westview Press, Oxford, 1999)
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Richard Parry
Tel: (0131 6)50 3918
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Adams
Tel: (0131 6)50 3315
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