Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3178: Policy Analysis for the Real World

This module descriptor refers to the 2020/1 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks), term 2 (11 weeks) and term 3 (0 weeks)

Academic staff

Professor Claire Dunlop (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module gives you a taste of what it is like to be a policymaker. The first part of the module draws on policy documents to explore the policy context facing contemporary policymakers and the key trends in policymaking in an era of internationalization and austerity. Drawing on cultural theory, part two explores the purpose of policy and the tools available to policymakers. What is policy for? Should it be efficient? Should it make us happy? Should it provide minimum standards? Should it provide choice? These questions are addressed using various conceptual lenses that have common currency amongst policy elites in western democracies as well as in public administration scholarship. Part three of the module explores how to communicate effectively with decision-makers and the analytical techniques that are deployed to weigh policy options and make recommendations. The final part of the module explores some of the main issues and implications of policymakers’ choices. How do policies construct and imagine citizens and why do these intended targets of policy often not respond as expected? What makes a policy fail? Can policymakers learn to do better? While this module is located in the public policy sub-field of political science, its successful completion does not assume that students have completed any policy modules.

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