Engaging Citizens: Participation and Democracy

School: School of Government and Society
Department: Institute of Local Government Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: 2 x 2 full day seminars

Module convenors: Dr Karin Bottom

This module provides a lively, clear and highly accessible introduction to how public policy is constructed within a democratic society. The course covers how the policy agenda is established, how we define policy problems, methods of policy making, implementation and evaluation. By understanding how these theories have developed and used to conceptualise the policy making process, we then draw upon the practice of policy making in the real world through the use of real life case studies, experiential learning and experts from their field of practice.

This module encourages students to examine emergent forms of citizen participation and to question the limits of representative democracy and changing patterns of state-civil society relations.

Teaching and learning approach

Unit 1

  • Welcome and Introduction to the module
  • Exploring current participant experiences of the nature and dynamics of Central – Local Relationships
  • Central - Local Relationships: Local Government or Local Administration?
  • Balance of Power Inquiry: Case Study Analysis
  • Councillors Commission: Members' Remuneration: Models, Issues, Incentives and Barriers
  • Power and Decision Making in Local Policy and Politics
  • Modes of democracy: Representative, deliberative, participative and pluralistic
  • Exploring democracy in practice: Place Shaping and Total Place
  • Power and decision making: Theory and Practice
  • Assignment Preparation: Case studies in democracy and participation
  • Local Policy Making and Implementation
  • Public policy making: Theory and practice
  • Implementing public policy
  • Neighbourhood Governance and Participation

Unit 2

  • Citizen Participation
  • Drivers of citizen consultation and participation
  • From social exclusion to social inclusion
  • Case studies of participation: Presentations
  • Closer to the people? Neighbourhood budgeting in Tower Hamlets
  • Local politics and politicians
  • Local political structures into the 21st century
  • Local authority standards and ethics
  • Assignment preparation

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

  • Critically examine upon different problematisations of representative democracy and traditional patterns of participation;
  • Critically reflect upon new and emergent forms of participation and the changing relationship between the citizen and the state;
  • Critically evaluate upon alternative models of democracy and citizen-state relations;
  • Construct and present arguments in written form.


The module will be assessed through the completion of two written assignment:

  • 2 x 3,000 word assignments (each 50%)

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.