Politics and Policy

Department of Political Science and International Studies, School of Government and Society

College of Social Sciences


Code 20792

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 20

Semester 1 and 2

Pre-requisite modules Where students take this course as a 10 credit unit they will be expected to undertake self directed study of the material not covered from the readin

Module description

This module is interested in studying the `how¿ in Lasswell¿s well-known definition of politics as being `who gets what, when, how¿. Policy can be understood as the product or output of politics. Contemporary examples of (public) policy-making include the Labour party¿s decision to cut spending on Higher Education; their decision to bail out banks; the decision to spend around £100 million per annum on elite sport. From education policy, fiscal policy and environmental policy to sport and health policy ¿ all are the result of politics.
The module introduces students to ways of understanding how and why such policy is developed by both the traditional institutions of government and more widely, in the era of governance, the wide range of actors influencing the policy decision making process. Indeed, the shift from `big¿ government to `new¿ governance by and through networks and partnerships is a key theme throughout the module.

Some of the key topics and questions explored are as follows:

  • What is `policy¿?
  • Who makes policy?
  • How can we study policy-making and policy implementation?
  • Who influences policy-making and policy decisions?
  • What are policy networks and communities?
  • What is `new¿ governance and how does it impact on politics and policy delivery?

The generic skills learnt by students can be applied to a policy area of their choice. There will be a balance between theoretical and actual examples of policy, drawing on expertise within POLSIS (for example, fiscal, economic, sport, EU and education policy).

Teaching and learning methods

These courses are taught by a combination of lectures, classes and directed reading.

This module is available as:
Autumn term only 10 credit unit – 3,000 word assessed essay
Spring term only 10 credit unit – 3,000 word assessed essay
Whole Year 20 credit unit – 2 x 2,000 summative essays (25% each) plus 2 hour examination (50%)