PIR-20068 - Why Policy Changes
Coordinator: Jon Herbert Room: CBB2.027 Tel: +44 1782 7 33539
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

Why do some policies change while others stay the same?
Ultimately, most politics is about what governments do, or don't do. While many scholars of politics work in specific fields (e.g. legislatures, transport policy), those working in the field of public policy try to explain the whole: how does the system fit together to produce change or continuity in the way the government acts? That questions raises further issues: how do agendas work?, how do people in a policy area work together or compete with one another?, how does policy reflect people's political interests? This module introduces you to the work and methods of these scholars. There are three assessments for the module: two short written pieces which ask you to consider two particular areas of public policy scholarship (each of 1200 words and each worth 25% of your final module mark) and a policy analysis essay examining a policy area of your choice (2000 words, worth 50% of your final module mark). If you're after some indicative reading, try John Kingdon's Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies or Michael Hill's The Public Policy Process.
If you've ever wondered about questions of policy, such as why the trains don't run on time, or why you're paying fees to study at university, this module might help you understand.

1. The central purpose of this module is to introduce students to the subject of public policy. Students should become familiar with the ideas of the leading scholars in the field and develop the capacity to question their arguments.
2. Students will also learn and apply the skills associated with policy analysis.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate familiarity with a number of the main theories of public policymaking and a capacity to identify the limitations of these approaches: 2
Analyse an instance of policy making, adopting and applying a particular theoretical approach to deliver a logically structured and delivered policy analysis: 1
Write in a concise and effective academic style (in accordance with guidance in the module guide): 1

Study hours

Lecture Attendance: 10 hours
Seminar Attendance: 10 hours
Seminar Preparation: 50 hours
MCQ Preparation: 20 hours
Essay Preparation: 60 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 75%
A Policy Analysis
Students will write a 1600 word policy analysis. Students will choose a particular policy change they want to analyse as a case study, and, by applying one theory of policy change they have studied during the module, explain the change in their chosen case study. Emphasis will be on clarity in applying the model and clarity of explanation.

2: Multiple Choice Questions - Knowledge weighted 25%
Multiple Choice Question Paper
The student will sit a short MCQ, roughly in Week 7, depending on co-ordination of assessments with other modules on the course. This test will be written to examine students' progress at two levels. First, it will ask basic questions testing the students' factual knowledge of the theories on public policy studied by that point in the module and the criticisms of them. Second, it will offer questions to test students' capacity to discern between and recognise the use of the theories.