THE UNIVERSITY of EDINBURGH

DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2021/2022

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

Undergraduate Course: Evidence, Politics and Policy (SCPL08010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science 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
SummaryYEAR 1 STUDENTS ARE WELCOME TO SIGN UP TO THIS COURSE.

The course shows how social research can shed light on topical social and political debates. Students are given opportunities to reflect critically on the ways in which evidence is used in debate about public policy.
Course description 1a. Academic description

The course illustrates how social research can shed light on topical social and political debates. The specific aims are:
- to understand how academic enquiry can be used to understand public political debates and public policy
- to understand how evidence informs debates, and how it is sometimes distorted and misused in these debates;
- to understand how social and political theory can be brought to bear on understanding topical debates;
- to develop the skills of engaging in topical debates in a rational and evidence-based way while also taking account of the important role of ideology and emotion.

1b. Outline content

After two introductory weeks which ask general questions about evidence and policy, the course looks at four current policy issues that are prominent in political debate. In 2016-17, these are likely to be:
- Migration: what are its effects on the UK, and how do people - migrants as well as non-migrants - react to it?
- Unemployment: how have people across Europe responded to the rise in unemployment since the beginning of the recession in 2008?
- Crime: why are crime levels so controversial while levels of crime in the UK are at all-time lows?
- Student finance: what are the effects on educational opportunity of different ways of funding students in higher education - including different approaches to student fees?

1c. Student Learning

The purpose of the four topics noted in 1b above is to give you experience of the kinds of issues that arise in using evidence to engage in public political debate. The main purpose of the lectures (and about half the tutorials) is to give the background of the debates in order to prepare you with the knowledge to take part in them. But the main part of your experience is then active engagement with debate and evidence. For each topic, one tutorial is an exercise in thinking about evidence through case studies. Throughout the course, you are expected to engage in online debate about the four topics with other students on the course and with the course teachers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesNone
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  126
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 177 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Policy brief (40% of final grade)
You are required to write a 1,000-word policy brief on an issue relating to the lectures in weeks the first half of the course.

Reflective portfolio from online discussions (60% of final grade)
You will be assessed on the basis of a 1,500-word reflective portfolio where you will draw together your contributions to the online discussions and explain how you responded to the debates. You will have to show evidence that you have contributed to at least three strands of debate in the course (that is, debates from the opening two weeks, migration, unemployment, crime, and student finance).
Feedback Feedback is provided on the first item of assessment noted below, well before the deadline for the second assessment. The main form of feedback is through the discussion that takes place in the online debate noted in 1c.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand how evidence informs debates, and how it is sometimes distorted and misused in these debate.
  2. Understand how social and political theory can be brought to bear on understanding topical debates.
  3. Develop the skills of engaging in topical debates in a rational and evidence-based way while also taking account of the important role of ideology and emotion.
Reading List
None
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsPolitics. Social Policy. Debate. Evidence.
Contacts
Course organiserDr Daniel Kenealy
Tel: (0131 6)50 4080
Email: Daniel.Kenealy@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMs Ieva Rascikaite
Tel:
Email: irascika@ed.ac.uk
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