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Principles of Policy Advice - POL00081M

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  • Department: Politics and International Relations
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Susan Watson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

Many graduates in public policy go on to work in organisations that produce or consume policy advice, and governments are increasingly in need of high quality policy advice as they grapple with complex social, environmental and economic policy issues. In this light, the course aims to enable students to produce and evaluate policy advice. Students should develop the capacity to perform basic policy analysis and to provide policy advice on the basis of this. Students should also develop the ability to critically assess the validity of different forms of policy advice and the constraints on those offering and receiving it. While the course introduces students to the technical steps of policy analysis (including problem definition, construction of policy alternatives and outcome projections), it also recognises policy analysis and advice as a fundamentally political activity. The course hence exposes students to literature on policy advice as rational-technical exercise, as well as literature on the politics of policy advice. Students will conduct policy analyses and produce policy advice by working on real-world policy cases in teams over several weeks. In the final summative assessment students will apply the tools of policy analysis to a real-world policy issue of their choosing.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Identify policy issues and persuasively frame them as policy problems.
  • Identify and explain different policy options that can address a given policy problem.
  • Critically assess different policy options in light of evaluative criteria.
  • Argue for the adoption of a particular policy (or set of policies) on the basis of analytical evaluation of different policy options.
  • Critically evaluate theories and tools of policy analysis as basis for policy advice.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Communication skills – Present clear and concise policy advice to a professional audience (policy-makers) in writing (in policy memos) and orally (in policy presentations).
  • Inter-personal skills - Work effectively in group projects to produce policy analysis and advice.
  • Research skills - Independently find and use relevant empirical data and literature for particular policy cases.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Ongoing oral feedback through seminars and feedback and guidance hours. Written feedback within five weeks of submission.

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.

Scott, C. and Baehler, K. (2012). 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 : W.W. Norton & Co.

Weimer, D. L. and Vining, A. R. (2010). Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice. Boston: Longman

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.