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York Policy Lab - POL00016C

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Eva Heims
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The module explores frameworks for identifying and addressing policy challenges, and supports their application to ‘real world’ local issues of national and global relevance.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

On this module, you will act as policy analysts who explore the way in which policy issues of global and national importance touch down - and can be addressed - in York. How do issues get framed as policy problems and end up on the political agenda? Which factors shape policy formulation? Can policy-makers and policy analysts design successful policies? To answer these questions this module provides a comprehensive introduction to policy analysis by exposing you to theoretical and applied policy analysis models. You learn how to frame issues as policy problems, how to systematically evaluate alternative policies to tackle a policy problem, and how to persuasively communicate a policy recommendation. You will conduct policy analyses by working on real-world policy cases in teams during the seminars. In the final summative assessment you will apply theories and tools of policy analysis to a real-world policy issue in order to provide a piece of policy advice to decision-makers.

Module learning outcomes

By completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Identify the types and actors and influences that shape public policies (PLO 1);

  • Frame issues as policy problems and argue for the adoption of a particular policy based on analytical evaluation of different policy options (PLO 2);

  • Identify the tools of applied policy analysis and use critical reasoning to analyse how they have been used to evaluate policies (PLO 2).

  • Demonstrate awareness of the challenges of conducting policy analysis research, including finding and using relevant empirical data (PLO 3)

  • Communicate policy recommendations that draw on key facts and concepts from research on policy analysis to a professional audience (policy-makers) in writing (policy briefs) and orally (in policy presentations) (PLO 5).

Module content

Overview of week by week topics (indicative):

Week 2: What is Policy Analysis?

Week 3: Policy Problem Definition

Week 4: Formulating Policy Options

Week 5: Introduction to the ‘Real World Case’

Week 6: The Role of Evidence in Policy Analysis

Week 7: Are some Policies better than Others?

Week 8: Analysing Policy Options - Tools and Techniques

Week 9: Influencing Policy through Effective Communication

Week 10: The Politics of Policy Advice (Lecture)/Presentation of Group Policy Analysis on Practice Case (Seminars)

Week 11: Presentation of Policy Recommendations to whole cohort and/or Policy-Makers (e.g. York City Council or Open Innovation Team) (Lecture)/Discussing your Formative Policy Briefs (Seminars)

Assessment (indicative):

The final aim of this module is to enable you to write a policy brief, i.e. to enable you to provide policy recommendations on the basis of systematic and evidence-based policy analysis. This is reflected in your summative assessment, which is a 2500 word policy brief addressed to real-world decision-makers. You will select a policy issue from an approved list according to your own interests.

The formative work of this module gives you a chance to practice your policy analysis skills in preparation for your summative policy brief. To practice, you will work on an analysis on a real-world issue in teams during the seminars from Week X onwards. You present your team policy analysis in your Week 10 seminar and submit a formative team policy brief. Feedback on your presentation and team policy brief will be helpful for writing your individual summative policy brief. The best team policy briefs will get a chance to present their analysis to an external client (tbc, e.g. York City Council or Open Innovation Team) in Week 11.


Task Length % of module mark
Policy Brief
N/A 80
Reflective Statement
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Policy Brief
N/A 80
Reflective Statement
N/A 20

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 25 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Bardach, E. and Patashnik, E. M. 2015. A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Knill, C. and Tosun, J. 2012. Public Policy: A New Introduction. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Meltzer, R. and Schwartz, A. (2018) Policy Analysis as Problem Solving: A Flexible and Evidence-Based Framework. London: Routledge.

Mintrom, M. 2012. Contemporary Policy Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scott, C. and Baehler, K. 2010. Adding Value to Policy Analysis and Advice. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Stone, D. 2012.. Policy Paradox; the art of political decision-making. New York: WW Norton.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.