Postgraduate Module Descriptor


POLM015M: Behavioural Public Policy and Administration

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Module Aims

The main objective of the module is to provide you with a critical understanding of how research and theoretical insights from the fields of behavioural economics and social psychology are being used to develop policy innovations in the contemporary era. The module discusses the idea of ‘boundedly rational’ decision-making and the implications of this for governments seeking to develop policy tools or shape the ‘choice architecture’ to influence citizens, or indeed bureaucrats. The module will use up-to-date case studies of behavioural public policies that are being applied by contemporary governments in OECD countries, and we will discuss the applicability of these approaches in different international contexts. While the course has practical policy relevance, you will be encouraged to take a critical, questioning approach and the course will also cover ethical and legitimacy questions surrounding behavioural public policy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how behavioural economic and social psychological insights are being used by government to secure policy outcomes
2. Demonstrate awareness of key heuristics employed in human decision-making
3. Articulate a range of theoretical perspectives concerning the role of the State in influencing citizen behaviour
Discipline-Specific Skills4. Effectively synthesise and extract arguments from academic literature
5. Critique a range of academic theories and perspectives
6. Appraise the strengths & weaknesses of different research methodologies
Personal and Key Skills7. Present arguments and distil evidence in a cogent way to a non-specialist audience
8. Apply theory and research findings from a variety of disciplinary perspectives to real world policy dilemmas