Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3228: From the Shadows into the Light: Political Advisers and Policy Making

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Module Aims

The main aim of this module is to provide you with the full conceptual skills to critically engage with the research scholarship on the policy roles of political advisers across countries, as well as across political and administrative traditions: a) Westminster (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK); b) Napoleonic (Belgium, France, Italy, Greece), c) European continental and Nordic (Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands); d) the USA; e) Supranational institutions (European Commission and European Parliament). In so doing the module also aims to provide you with the skills to critically reflect upon stereotypes and images of political advisers, created by the media and advisers’ own accounts. Although political advisers enjoy a share as central players in the policy making process, their advent in the central political stage has come along with important challenges. Concerns are being raised due to advisers’ growing numbers, their lack of accountability, the way they operate (spin-doctoring), their policy influence, as well as the opacity of their status. The fundamental question the module will address is whether political advisers are pillars of responsive and good governance, or incompetent and non-accountable dark princes. Moreover, is there convergence, or divergence in the use and roles of political advisers across systems and why? In addressing such issues, a complementary aim of the module is to make you aware of the professional and ethical values pertaining to the job of political adviser.

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 an in-depth knowledge of the concepts and theories on political advisers and their policy making roles .
2. Apply the appropriate concepts and theories in order to explain and critically appraise the role of political advisers in policy making across countries over time.
Discipline-Specific Skills3. Find, use and critically analyse a range of material, including empirical and theoretical studies published in scientific journals, books and conference papers; policy reports and guidelines published by governments, administrations and international organisations; news and internet items.
4. Critically analyse both empirical and theoretical material by applying theoretical arguments to empirical case studies.
Personal and Key Skills5. Communicate ideas effectively both formally during presentations and informally during class discussions.
6. Communicate ideas effectively in a given number of words in written form.
7. Work independently and in groups.