Information in the Degree Programme Tables may still be subject to change in response to Covid-19

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: Understanding and Delivering Public Services (BUST08042)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the nature of public services in contemporary society and considers the key challenges of their management. It will examine how public management has changed and evolved over the past fifty years, how 'value creation' has become embedded as a key element of contemporary public management, and how its strategic challenges are addressed through public service management. The course will be of interest both to students considering a future career in public service and to students wanting a broader understanding of how society works. It will also offer a novel perspective on management theory and will encourage a critical and creative approach to it.
Course description Academic Description
The learning aims of this course are:

- To discover what is meant by 'public services' and their societal and economic import, and the growth of public service provision across the public, private and third sectors, exploring in particular global nuances and issues,
- To explore and evaluative the trajectory of public management reform globally and to consider the implications of this both for the efficient and effective delivery of public services and for the evolution of an active and inclusive society,
- To appreciate how the concept of 'value' has become embedded in the public management discourse and its implications for public management, and
- To evaluate the evaluation of public service quality and performance.

Outline Content
(I) Understanding public services
- So what are public services and why do we need them?
- Public Administration and Management theory - from Public Administration to Public Service Logic, via the New Public Management
- Creating value for citizens and communities through public services and the public service ecosystem
- Key ethical challenges

(II) The key challenges of public service management
Planning and designing public services
- Strategic planning and management - creating a strategic orientation and culture of public service
- Designing public services to create value

Key issues in public service management
- Governing public service markets through contracts
- Social marketing and 'nudge' policy - changing individual and societal views
- Confronting the challenge of creating environmentally sustainable communities/public services
- Managing innovation and change in public services
- Evaluating public services - the quality and performance dimensions
- Key global differences and issues

Engaging with the service user, the citizen and the community
- Communicating and working with key stakeholders to public services
- The rise and fall and rise again of the third sector in public service delivery
- Social enterprise - so what's in a name?
- The role of citizens and public service users - co-production and volunteering

The future
- Virtual public services - beyond digital to AI

The course will run over 10 weeks of contact. There will be 2 lectures per week. The lectures will mix presentation of key ideas and theories in public management together with speakers from practice who will discuss the reality of public management. A tutorial series will also run alongside the lectures with each student attending one 1hr tutorial per week between Weeks 2-10. The purpose of these tutorials will be to link the public management theory and challenges discussed in the lectures to a real-world problem.

Students will work in small groups (ideally 5-6 per group) within their assigned tutorials to address a Grand Challenge. For 2020/21, for example, the Grand Challenge will be 'Solving child poverty'. Each group will agree collectively on one aspect of the Grand Challenge to address, and then develop their own individual paper on their approach to this aspect of the Grand Challenge.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Global Challenges for Business (BUST08035) AND The Business of Edinburgh (BUST08036)) OR Introduction to Business (BUST08026) OR Social Policy and Society (SCPL08004) OR ( Industrial Management 1 (BUST08002) AND Techniques of Management (MAEE08002))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have at least 1 introductory level Business Studies course at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) An individual course paper of a maximum of 3,000 words explaining your approach adopted to the Grand Challenge and your public service response, justifying your approach within the extant research and literature and demonstrating a critical appreciation of it (60%).«br /»
«br /»
A reflective log on your learning across the course. This log should include 4 entries (maximum 2,000 words in total) - 1 for each section of the course. The log will need to show (i) that you have engaged with the key ideas and theories of each section of the course, (ii) that you developed a critical appreciation of these ideas and theories, and (iii) that you have thought about their practical import for public management in the contemporary world. (40%)
Feedback Formative
Students will produce a draft idea for their course paper by week 4 for discussion in tutorial groups. You will receive formative feedback on it in your tutorial group in week 4.

You will subsequently produce a draft summary of your course paper (maximum 1 side A4) detailing your focus, theories utilised and intended outcomes in Week 6. You will receive formative written feedback in Week 7.

Students will produce one entry for their personal reflective log by week 7 (maximum 500 words) and receive formative feedback by week 8.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain what public services are and critically appreciate their similarities/differences from commercial services.
  2. Describe the key elements of contemporary public management theory and reflect upon their implications for public service management.
  3. Appreciate the key strategic and operational challenges of managing and delivering public services for public service organisations across the public, private and third sectors
Reading List
Indicative literature
Core text: S Osborne (2020) Public Service Logic (Routledge, London)

Further reading
C Bason (2017) Leading Public Design (Policy Press)
R Chapman (2019) Ethics in Public Service for the New Millennium (Routledge)
R Common et al (2016) Managing Public Services: Competition and Decentralisation (Butterworth)
T Christensen & P Legreid (2016) The Ashgate Companion to New Public Management (Routledge)
O Hughes (2012) Public Management and Administration (Macmilan)
R Kearney & E Berman (2018) Public Sector Performance (Routledge)
H Rainey (2014) Understanding and Managing Public Organizations (John Wiley)
J Rees & D Mullins (2016) The Third Sector Delivering Public Services (Policy Press)
E Savas (2019) Alternatives for Delivering Public Services (Routledge)
P Waller & V Weerakkody (2016). Digital Government: overcoming the systemic failure of transformation. (Brunel University Press).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Digital literacy -the course will consider how digital and smart technology is transforming the nature of public services and the implications of this for public management in the future.

Flexibility - the course will encourage participants to understand public services as being enacted with ecosystems, rather than individual public service organisations - and consequently of the need to develop a flexible approach to understanding and negotiating these ecosystems to achieve service outcomes

Managing up - not appropriate to this course

Working in a multicultural and diverse working environment - this course will emphasise the importance of being needs-led and of understanding the cultural-specific qualities of social and economic needs. It will draw case studies from across a range of social and cultural environments

Numeracy/Big Data - the course will explore the role of Big Data in strategic planning and performance management for course participants as well as the impact of new developments for public management, such as AI.

Enterprising behaviour - the course will consider the role of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise for the delivery of public services and challenge participants to consider how they may enact these attributes.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katharine Aulton
Tel: (0131 6)50 8074
Course secretaryMrs Ada Logara
Tel: (0131 6)50 3827
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information