SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHL224414
Module Leader William McDougall
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Sociology
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

normally any level 3 politics module

Summary of Content

The module aims to provide students with the knowledge and understanding of the public policy process; policy cycles; public policy in formulation, implementation and evaluation from a theoretical perspective as well as contextualise concepts, themes and issues within the UK and Europe. The module covers the main political and theoretical philosophies underpinning public policy; considers how public policy is made and managed; and the domains of public policy. The module will improve students understanding of the political-administrative interface, the politics of bureaucracy, the actors involved in the policy process, governance, networks, the relationships between state and non-state actors, and the capacities to make and manage public policy. Students will critically reflect upon conceptual and theoretical frameworks and arguments by applying these to public policy case studies. Thus, students will be exposed to the complexities of politics and public policy and analyse these within a Scottish, UK, European and international context.


-360 1. Public Policy Processes and Cycles 2. Public Policy Formulation: conceptual and theoretical perspectives 3. Public Policy Implementation: conceptual and theoretical perspectives -360 4. Policy Actors 5. Politics of Bureaucracy 6. Policy Capacity 7. Public Sector Reforms: the impact on public policy 8. Governance and Public Policy 9. Policy Management through Market and Partnerships Policy Evaluation: Performance and Accountability

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the module, students should know the conceptual and theoretical frameworks of public policy; appreciate the main arguments and debates of public policy; and critically reflect upon these arguments, debated concepts and theories to a real world context. Thus, students should demonstrate:1. A knowledge of public policy processes, cycles, concepts and theories;2. An understanding of the debates, issues and arguments of public policy formulation, implementation and evaluation; 3. An appreciation for the politics of the political-administrative interface, the politics of the bureaucracy, and the impact of public sector reforms on public policy processes;4. Critical analysis and reflection of the applicability of public policy debates, arguments and theories to real world issues; and5. An understanding of the context of the policy process in Scotland, UK, Europe and comparatively

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and directed learning activities. The lectures will be two hour, weekly sessions where students will learn of public policy processes, cycles, concepts, theories, debates and arguments of public policy formulation, implementation and evaluation; the political-administrative interface; the politics of the bureaucracy; the impact of public sector reforms on the public policy process; and context of public policy. In addition to the lectures, there will be one hour, weekly seminars where students will critically analyse and reflect upon the applicability of public policy debates, arguments and theories to real world issues. In weeks 4 and 8 students will receive case studies as directed learning activities. This will involve the analysis of real world case studies to contextualise public policy debates, arguments and issues within the seminar sessions. The lectures and seminars are underpinned by module tutors' research and the students' independent learning. This independent learning will be informed through reading the core text, academic journal articles, government reports and contemporary public policy issues in traditional and social media. Students will also be directed to read relevant supportive documentation disseminated to students in via GCU Learn. The learning outcomes will be assessed through coursework and a final, unseen written exam

Indicative Reading

-284 Core Text: -284 Miller, K.J. and McTavish, D. (2013) Making and Managing Public Policy, London: Routledge. Other Reading : -240 Anderson, J. (1997) Public Policy Making , New York: Houghton Mifflin. Birkland, T. (2005) An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making, New York: M.E. Sharpe. Cairney, P. (2012) Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Dorey, P. (2005) Policy Making in Britain, London: Sage Publishing. Du Gay, P. (2000) In Praise of Bureaucracy: Weber. Organisation. Ethics, London: Sage Publishing. Dunn, W.N. (1994) Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction, 2 nd edition, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Dye, T. (2002) Understanding Public Policy, 10th edition, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. -240 Hill, M. (2009) The Public Policy Process , Harlow: Longman. -240 Hogwood, B.W. and Gunn, L.A. (1984) Policy Analysis for the Real World , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hood, C. and Lodge, M. (2006) The Politics of Public Service Bargains: Reward, Competency, Loyalty and Blame, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Howlett, M. and Ramesh. M. (2003) Studying Public Policy, Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press. John, P. (1998) Analysing Public Policy, London: Continuum. Kingdon, J.W. (1984) Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, Boston, Mass.: Little Brown. Marsh, D. and Rhodes, R.A.W. (1992) Policy Networks in British Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press. -240 Massey, A. and Pyper, R. (2005) Public Management and Modernisation in Britain , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan -240 Page, E. and Jenkins, B. (2005) Policy Bureaucracy: Government with a Cast of Thousands , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Parsons, W. (1995) Public Policy: an Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. -240 Peters, B.G. (2001) The Politics of Bureaucracy , London: Routledge -240 Peters, B.G. Rhodes, R.A.W. and Wright, V. (2000) Administering the Summit: Administration of the Core Executive in Developed Countries, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pierre, J. and Peters, B. Guy (2000) Governance, Politics and the State , Basingstoke: Macmillan. Pollitt, C. and. Bouchaert. G. (2011) Public Management Reform: A Comparative Analysis, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rhodes, R.A.W. (1997) Understanding Governance: Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability , Buckingham: Open University Press. Rhodes, R.A.W. (2008) Understanding Governance. Maidenhead: Open University Press. -240 Rhodes, R.A.W. (2011) Everyday Life in British Government , Oxford: Oxford University Press. -240 Richards, D. and Smith, M. (2002) Governance and Public Policy in the United Kingdom , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wu, X., Ramesh, M., Howlett, M. and Fritzen, S. (2010) The Public Policy Primer: managing the policy process, London: Routledge. Journals: Governance; Local Government Studies; Parliamentary Affairs; Policy and Politics; Policy Studies; Politics; Public Administration; Public Management Review; Public Policy and Administration; Regional Studies; Scottish Affairs; IRAS; JPART; Journal of European Public Policy; International Journal of Public Sector Management; Public Money and Management

Transferrable Skills

-240 1. Personal and Career Development Skills : communication strategies, developing and managing effective relationships, and critical thinking of public policies. -240 2. Self-Management and Organisation : Managing time and assignments and evaluating own performance. 3. Communication : Oral, aural and written skills are developed during lectures, and when participating and presenting in seminars. Writing skills are developed when completing written coursework and examinations. 4. Group Work : Team membership and leadership skills are developed in the context of seminars. 5. Learning: A range of cognitive skills and systematic problem solving skills from logical and innovative reasoning in lectures, seminars, assessments and independent learning. Data Gathering, Manipulation and Presentation : These skills are developed as students make use of secondary resource material. Students will use and further develop library skills to find and organise information, as well as utilising information technology for the production of coursework. Information storage and retrieval skills are used for work on coursework and the examination.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 48.00
Independent Learning (FDL) 36.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Independent Learning (FT) 80.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 n/a 2 question - 1250 words each
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 n/a Assignment (2500 Words)