Public Policy and Evidence

Many issues the public sector tackles are intractable, with no obvious policy solutions.

It is therefore essential that public managers and leaders are able to synthesise, and critically appraise, a range of different pieces and forms of evidence in order to inform decision-making.

This module provides you with an in-depth overview of the key qualitative and quantitative methods used in social science research, identifying their strengths and limitations for addressing different types of research question. In doing so it will equip you with the necessary skills to conduct your own research, and critical analyse the rigour of other research outputs. The module also examines the philosophical basis of social science research, including the methodology that underpins research decisions, as well as the ethical challenges faced in social research. You will also gain a comprehensive understanding of how research and evidence is (and can be) used in the public policy cycle; from decision-making, through to policy implementation, and evaluation.

Content will be delivered in our innovative blended format; the first part of the module will be taught through our bespoke online learning environment, providing you with the flexibility to learn where and when you want. For the second part of the module, you will be on campus at the University of Birmingham, applying your online learning to group problem-solving tasks and scenario-based exercises.

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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of research and evidence in the process of public policy development in different sectors and contexts.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the research process and the various methodologies available to researchers. 
  • Complete individual research plans for dissertations.
  • Demonstrate an appropriate understanding of the ‘big picture’ issues in public policy development, including the ability to make sense of the various complexities, tensions and contradictions that tend to characterise the development and implementation of contemporary public policy.
  • Demonstrate commitment to high ethical standards in carrying out public policy development and social research.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the responsibilities of the social researcher.