Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2102: Explaining Public Policies

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


1. How Do We Explain Policies? What Gives a Theory its Power?


2. Multiple Streams Approach (MSA) and the Role of Luck, Chance and Contingency


3. Multiple Streams Approach (MSA) Case Studies – Tobacco Control and Alcohol Pricing


4. Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET) and Why Policies Change (Sometimes…)


5. Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET) Case Studies – Civil Nuclear Power and Capital Punishment in the US


6. Social Construction of Target Populations (SCTP) – How Policy Decisions Construct Citizens and Democracies


7. Social Construction of Target Populations (SCTP) Case Studies – LGBT Citizens Treatment in Law and Artificial Intelligence


8. Policy Learning – Do Policies Ever Improve Over Time?


9. Policy Learning Case Studies – Hormones in Beef Trade War and Brexit


10. Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) and the Persistent of Stories and Myths in Policy


11. Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) Case Studies – Arab Spring and US Gun Control


12. Combining Theories and Module Recap


N.B. Please note these case studies are indicative, some weeks we may branch out to further empirical examples.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities16.511 x 1.5 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities1111 x 1 hour tutorial. Tutorials are based on lecture topics.
Guided Independent Study5.5Preparation for seminar presentation
Guided independent study40Preparation and writing of essay
Guided independent study37Preparation and revision for examination
Guided Independent Study40Reading for tutorials

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).