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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
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits15 ECTS Credits7.5
SummaryAnalysis for Policy provides a specialised introduction to the ways different kinds of information are produced and used in the course of policy making. It considers the role and function of research and analysis at different stages of the policy process, including in the identification and specification of policy problems, in public and stakeholder consultation and in programme and service evaluation. It covers both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection, and considers different obstacles to the use of evidence in policy. The course recognises that policy analysis is an essential professional and technical function, but also notes the political and ethical questions it may raise.
Course description This course is designed for postgraduate students in social and public policy. It aims to identify and problematize the different kinds of knowledge and information produced and used at different stages of the policy process, and to explore different ways of providing knowledge for policy. The course is taught in a combination of whole class and small group discussion, prompted by short lectures and targeted readings. We discuss theory and method through real-world examples and case studies. Assessment is by means of a formative guided exercise in research design and a final analytic paper based on students' own policy and practical interests.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 21/09/2015
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 150 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 3, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 147 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 70 %, Practical Exam 30 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Components of Assessment:

1. research design: 1000 words: 30%
2. policy analysis: 2000 words: 70%

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically assess the different kinds of knowledge used in policy making
  2. distinguish and discriminate among the different methods of analysis used at different stages of the policy process
  3. appreciate and assess the means by which different kinds of policy-relevant data may be gathered, manipulated and used
  4. effectively apply their practical understanding of the research process to policy problems
  5. design and deliver different ways of communicating research to policy
Reading List
Bardach E (2012). A practical guide for policy analysis (4th edition), London: Sage.
Bryman, A (2004) Social Research Methods, second edition, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Davies HTO, Nutley SM and Smith PC (eds) (2000). What works? Evidence-based policy and practice in public services, Bristol: Policy Press.
Fielding, J. & N. Gilbert (2006) Understanding Social Statistics (2nd edition), London: Sage
Freeman, R and Sturdy, S (eds) (2014) Knowledge in Policy: embodied, inscribed, enacted, Bristol: Policy Press
Marsh, C. & J. Elliott (2008) Exploring Data (2nd edition), Cambridge: Polity
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.
Spicker P (2006) Policy Analysis for Practice Bristol: Policy Press

Additional resources: the Social Research Up-date series, available on-line at, outlines some traditional and not-so-traditional data collection methods. There a number of specialist journals relevant for the course such as Evaluation, Evidence & Policy, Policy and Politics and Public Money and Management.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The personal and professional skills and attributes developed in this course include:

1. The ability to identify the cognitive and informational dimensions to policy problems;
2. the ability to design and deliver alternative solutions to those problems, to a professional standard;
3. and to communicate research questions and findings effectively to a range of audiences.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Daniel Kenealy
Tel: (0131 6)50 4080
Course secretaryMr Lee Corcoran
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