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

Undergraduate Course: Public Policy In Scotland (S1) (PLIT10111)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityPart-year visiting students only
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryMembers of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) engage with a wide range of institutions, processes and issues. This class will explore who MSPs are, what they do and how they relate to these institutions, processes and issues. Background to the establishment and evolution of the Scottish Parliament, debate on further reforms but also the everyday work of MSPs will be covered.
Course description The course sets out to prepare students for working with MSPs. MSPs perform various roles and functions and different MSPs interpret these roles differently. A day in the life of any MSP is likely to be very varied and subjects requiring attention can change rapidly but most MSPs attempt to specialize to some extent whether in a particular area (especially so for constituency Members) and/or subject matter(s). The subjects covered by MSPs usually reflect the powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament including the business and the economy, environment, law and order, public safety, health, education, social services, arts and culture, housing, urban and rural affairs but will also include matters such as aspects of the UK constitution, Brexit and even foreign affairs though these might not formally come under the Parliament¿s remit.
The course will focus on the roles and functions of Members: the implications of having constituency and regional list Members; Members of different parties and party work; constituency work; committee and chamber work; and both local and other campaigns. As well as understanding these functions, it will be important to understand the institutional landscape of Scottish politics and decision-making processes including the relationship between MSPs and Scottish Government, local government, other public, private and voluntary bodies. The powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament and current issues that are likely to be addressed by Parliamentarians will be discussed. An indicative list of subjects covered (subject to change reflecting the evolution of the politics of devolution) include:
- Members of the Scottish Parliament: who are they? What do they do?
- Policy-Making: Interest Groups, Access and Lobbying
- Delivering services
- Scotland's "wicked problems"
- Public Service Reform

The aim is to equip students with analytical and methodological skills in public policy analysis that will be relevant to completing projects, writing briefs and undertaking research while working in the office of a Member of the Scottish Parliament. It will marry academic studies with practical examples drawing on concerns and issue dealt with by MSPs.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the policy making process in Scotland
  2. understand key issues in Scottish public policy
  3. be able to identify key sources of relevant information
  4. be able to complete a policy brief on a subject of relevance to and in a style of value to an MSP.
Reading List
Some of the reading will with change with each cohort to reflect changing issues in public policy. Key texts will include:
- Paul Cairney, Understanding Public Policy, Palgave, 2012.
- Michael Keating, The Government of Scotland 2011
- Tom Lundberg, "tensions between regional and constituency Members", Parliamentary Affairs, 2014
- MSPs; Neil McGarvey "Expectations, Assumptions and Realities: Scottish Local Government Post-Devolution", British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 2011.
- Head, Brian and Alford, John (2013), "Wicked problems: Implications for Public Policy and Management", Administration and Society, vol.20, pp.1-29.
- Watkins , Alan and Wilber, Ken (2015), Wicked and Wise: how to sole the world's toughest problems, Chatham, Urbane Publications Ltd.
- Plus a range of public documents depending on issues under debate including Report of the Christie Commission on Future Delivery of Public Services.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Only available to students on the Parliamentary Programme through the Academy of Goverment
KeywordsAcademy of Government
Course organiserProf James Mitchell
Course secretaryMr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)50 3923
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