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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Public participation in democracy and governance (PLIT10098)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary"Power to the people" is a recurrent mantra in political rhetoric and a foundational tenet of democracy. Today, understanding the role of citizens and other non-state actors in democratic government is crucial to analyse contemporary politics and policymaking. This course will focus on two key developments, namely: the transition from government hierarchies to governance networks, and the proliferation of public participation processes that involve citizens in policy and decision making.
The course will pay special attention to studying democratic innovations from around the world, for instance: digital crowdsourcing, participatory budgeting, stakeholder partnerships and deliberative mini-publics. Featuring cutting-edge research on participatory and deliberative democracy, as well as capacity-building workshops, the course will enable students to critically understand public participation in theory and practice, and develop basic public engagement skills. In doing so, students will be able to grasp the evolving politics of participatory policymaking and the demands of contemporary political work.

Course description The worlds of politics and policymaking are evolving to accommodate diverse ideas and practices around citizen and stakeholder participation. Traditional forms of public engagement (e.g. public meetings, consultations) now coexist alongside a new range of democratic innovations (e.g. mini-publics, participatory budgeting, crowdsourcing). These developments have profound consequences for how politics and policymaking work, and the evolving relationship between state and civil society. This course aims to help students to develop analytical and practical skills to understand and operate in the myriad political contexts shaped by conflicting ideas and practices about public participation.

The course will start from core themes and debates about public participation in democracy and governance (Block 1, Weeks 1-3). Then, it will proceed to specific case studies and practices of various democratic innovations and participatory processes from around the world (Block 2, Weeks 4 - 9) with a final overview session to consolidate learning and critical reflection (Week 10).

The course is open to 3rd and 4th year students and will entail a total of 30 contact hours, delivered in 10x3 hour sessions (+ break). Each session will include theoretically and empirically based presentations and debates, as well as practical exercises and workshops centred on core skills. This course is highly interactive and therefore student participation in every session is crucial. Students are expected to prepare in advance by listening to podcasts, watching videos, consulting databases and reading a range of materials (blogs, websites, papers, book chapters) provided by the course organiser.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Analytical (50%) An essay about one or more case studies [2,000 words]

Practical (40%) A practice-oriented piece of work choosing from two options (plan or blog post) [1,500 words]

Learning Portfolio (10%) The learning portfolio is designed to promote informed participation in the weekly seminar workshops, and support ongoing learning and development. The portfolio is composed of 10 sets of reading notes, submitted weekly at the workshops (from Week 2 to Week 11). As general guidance, students are advised to prepare notes between 200 and 400 words.
Feedback Advice and feedback will be given to students on their case study drafts. Each student will send a short outline (half page) of their case study to the course organiser by week 5 and receive written feedback to guide their work.
Students will also receive ongoing feedback during discussions and activities in class as well as during guidance and feedback hours.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understanding how different ideas and practices of public participation are reshaping politics and policy making across the world
  2. Developing analytical and practical skills that can be applied to a range policy contexts and areas of work (e.g. public, private and third sector)
  3. Gaining a critical understanding of the complexity of public participation processes, and the dilemmas that participation practitioners face
  4. Being able to reflect critically on the expanding fields of democratic innovation and networked governance by drawing on a range of theoretical and empirical resources
  5. Gaining confidence and competence to participate in a range of group-based activities and formats
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement;
Be able to sustain intellectual interest by remaining receptive to both new and old ideas, methods, and ways of thinking;
Be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues;
Be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views.
KeywordsPublic participation,democracy,governance,engagement work,democratic innovation
Course organiserDr Oliver Escobar
Course secretaryMr Colin Arthur
Tel: (01316)51 3162
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