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

Postgraduate Course: Analysis for Policy (PGSP11310)

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 descriptionThe overall aim of the course is to introduce students to the broad range of analytical approaches and methods relevant to policy development and implementation. It will consider analytical methods relevant to: identifying policy issues; learning from elsewhere; appraising options; conducting consultations; implementing policy; and learning from implementation processes and outcomes.

The course will complement rather than duplicate the analytical skills covered by other MPP core courses (e.g. the coverage of cost benefit analysis within the Economics of Public Policy course). While the course will focus on policy analysis as a technical activity, it will recognise that policy analysis is also a political activity with ethical implications.

The emphasis will be on developing students' overall understanding of different analytical approaches and methods, including when they are relevant, and the knowledge and skills required to employ them effectively. The course will get students to assess the level of their current knowledge and skills and identify areas for further development. Students will develop some of this necessary knowledge and skills within the course. Where students lack a grounding in a particular area, or wish to deepen their skills and knowledge beyond what they get in this course (e.g. in preparation for the capstone project), they will have the opportunity of additional, personalised provision. This will be provided by relevant complementary skills courses and resources (such as online material and workshops on quantitative methods and data analysis packages).
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 70 %, Practical Exam 30 %
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. Core knowledge
o Understand the role of analysis in the policy process
o Appreciate the strengths and limitations of different analytical approaches and methods
o Be able to identify the sources and uses of different forms of evidence

2. Intellectual skills
o Be able to apply and demonstrate critical appraisal skills

3. Practical and transferable skills developed
o Be familiar with quantitative and qualitative data analysis
o Have greater awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of own analytical skills
o Develop and enhance their communication skills, including the delivery of presentations and analytical reports
o Develop and enhance their nterpersonal and group work skills
Assessment Information
The course will be assessed through:
o In-class group case study presentations (30%)
o An individual analytical report (2,500 words) (70%)
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 1 - Overview of knowledge and skills required for policy analysis
Topics addressed: identifying and interpreting the issue(s) to be analysed; choosing the investigative method(s); obtaining data; processing and interpreting data; communicating results.

These areas of knowledge and skills will be developed in tandem over subsequent weeks of the course. The first session will get students to do an initial review of their quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills in order to identify priorities and resources for further development.

Week 2 - Identifying current and future problems
Topics addressed: accessing and analysing population data; horizon scanning; and modelling and forecasting.

This session will include a public health case study and outside speaker. It will cover the importance of both qualitative and qualitative analysis, but the emphasis will be on the uses and abuses of statistics.

Week 3 - Learning from elsewhere
Topics addressed: policy transfer and lesson drawing.

This session will consider both systematic and pragmatic methods for learning from elsewhere, focusing on the importance of understanding the policy context and it implications for transferability. The session will build on the previous week's public health case study by developing and illustrating the main learning points.

Week 4 - Learning from existing research
Topics addressed: rapid and systematic review methods.

This session will emphasise the dangers of basing policy decisions on the results of a single research project. It will introduce students to the methods and uses of systematic review via a criminal justice case study, which will encompass meta-analysis techniques.

Week 5 - Option appraisal
Topics addressed: stakeholder analysis and multi-criteria analysis.

The session will build on the criminal justice case study and introduce students to alternative approaches to optional appraisal.

Week 6 - Conducting consultations
Topics addressed: designing, executing and analysing.

This session will consider methods for consulting stakeholders and the general public about policy options and proposals. This will include the use and analysis of focus group data, opinion polls and survey data, and other interactive methods. An outside expert will provide a case example.

Week 7 - Evaluating policy implementation (1)
Topics addressed: evaluation frameworks and methodological choices; evaluation contexts (policy, programme and project evaluation).

This session will provide an introduction to evaluation approaches and methods. The vehicle for discussing these issues will be an education policy implementation case study.

Week 8 - Evaluating policy implementation (2)
Topics addressed: process evaluation (case studies and surveys).

This more in-depth consideration of process evaluation will emphasise the importance of qualitative analysis, and will draw on a social policy case study to illustrate the key learning points.

Week 9 - Evaluating policy implementation (3)
Topics addressed: outcome evaluation (experimental methodologies and theory-based evaluations).

This more in-depth consideration of outcome evaluation will emphasise the importance of quantitative and qualitative analysis, and will build on the previous week's social policy case study to illustrate the key learning points.

Week 10 - Utilisation-focused analysis
Topics addressed: communication, collaboration and consensus building.

This session will emphasise the importance of ensuring that the evidence which arises from analysis is actually used. It will explore what this implies for the ways in which analysis is undertaken, reported and communicated to policy makers, practitioners and others.

Week 11 - Assessing and developing analytical knowledge and skills
This session will revolve around a summative 360 degree appraisal of students' current knowledge and skills in order to develop a continuing learning plan.
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Blastland M & Dilnot A (2008) The Tiger that Isn't Seeing Through a World of Numbers, London: Profile Books

Bryman, A (2004) Social Research Methods, second edition, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Chelimsky E & Shadish W R eds (1997) Evaluation for the 21st century: A handbook, London: Sage

Fielding, J. & N. Gilbert (2006) Understanding Social Statistics (2nd edition), London: Sage

Marsh, C. & J. Elliott (2008) Exploring Data (2nd edition), Cambridge: Polity

Quinn Paton M (2008) Utilisation focused evaluation, London: Sage

Ritchie J and Lewis J (2003) (eds) Qualitative Research Practice, London: Sage.

Robson, C. (2002). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-Researchers, Oxford: Blackwell.

Seale, C. (2004). Researching Society and Culture London: Sage.

Spiker P (2006) Policy analysis for practice Bristol: Policy Press

Wright, D. (2002). First Steps in Statistics, London: Sage.

Additional resources:
The Social Research Up-date series, available on-line at (which outlines some traditional and not-so-traditional data collection methods).

A number of specialist journals such as Evaluation and Evidence & Policy.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Thompson
Tel: (0131 6)51 1562
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Adams
Tel: (0131 6)50 3315
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