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

Postgraduate Course: Policy in Action: case studies (PGSP11462)

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
SummaryThis course is concerned with the capacity to govern, that is with the instruments and resources available to policy makers in pursuing their goals. It sets a series of structured questions through which to explore and evaluate initiatives in specified empirical fields or cases. These cover: the relations between government and other organizations in a policy domain; government's deployment of resources, principally money, people and information, to effect change; the use of different kinds of regulation to require different kinds of action.

Students are divided into work groups of no more than 4, each given a portfolio of materials specific to a domain of social and public policy, including for example: immigration and asylum; equalities (gender); prisons; alcohol and drugs; cultural policy; higher education. Case study portfolios typically include: an introductory framing document; post-devolution timelines of key events (ie ca 1999-2015); white papers and other significant national and local government documents; legislative and parliamentary papers; European initiatives; NGO statements; links to statistical and other data; research reports and related studies (the grey literature). They will not usually include academic material in the form of monographs or journal articles. Portfolios are mounted on Sharepoint, a file-sharing system widely used in the corporate and public sectors. Portfolios can be linked to twitter feeds, both to facilitate collaboration in groups and to connect to with up-to-date-policy discussion.

Each work group is tasked to critically review the structure and development of policy initiatives in its respective domain. Students are encouraged to carry out limited research of their own, identifying new materials, and will have opportunities to consult a key practitioner in their field

Course description The course is organised in three sections as follows:

Section 1 (typically weeks 1-3): introduces the course; in groups, students make a first cut at describing and appraising their policy domain. What kinds of activity does this field consist of and who are its principal actors? What issues or problems do they raise and confront? It elaborates an analytic framework and its principal elements; in groups, students begin to work out how this applies in their domain. Due attention is paid to working in groups and the design and production of effective report.

Section two (typically weeks 4-8) address different dimensions of governing capacity in turn: organization, resources and regulation. Each session is led by an introductory discussion based on core readings; class time will be largely devoted to discussion in work groups, exploring issues raised in respect of different cases and fields. Substantive sessions are preceded and followed by research weeks, in which students have time to explore, deepen and consolidate their initial understanding of their case.

Section 3 (typically weeks 9-10) is used for summary group presentations, which will also serve as formative assessment, and for comparative analysis and review across cases,

The course will be delivered in 3-hour sessions, over ten weeks, consistent with other core modules on this programme. Each group will be facilitated by an academic tutor. Each will also have access to a named key practitioner in the field, whom students may consult periodically for information and advice.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. describe and critically assess the range of policy instruments available to government in theoretical terms;
  2. analyse and critically appraise the application of those instruments to a specific field;
  3. identify and evaluate options for intervention by policy makers;
  4. negotiate and deliver a specified individual contribution to the work of a task group;
  5. access and share information with others using appropriate information technologies.
Reading List
Elmore, R F (1987) 'Instruments and strategy in public policy', Policy Studies Review 7 (1) 174186
Goodin, R E, Moran, M and Rein, M (eds) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, Oxford UP
Hood, C and Margetts, H (2007) The Tools of Government in the Digital Age, London: Palgrave Macmillan;
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills the ability to identify, understand, analyse and critically review primary materials, including policy and organizational statements, documents and reports;
the ability to work in a group, taking responsibility for the distribution and articulation of specific tasks, and reaching substantive agreement;
the use of a document-sharing platform
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Richard Freeman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4680
Course secretaryMr Lee Corcoran
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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