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Leading & Managing Change - POL00089M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sebastian Booth
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module explores the theory and practice of leading and managing change in public sector organisations. Reform and change are persistent features of organisational life within the public sector across the globe. How best to understand, manage and lead this change is a key challenge to policymakers, managers and public service professionals alike. This module examines the public sector reform agendas of the New Public Management and New Public Governance and the increasing need for change management across sector, organisational and professional boundaries. It also examines the broad context in which organisational change takes place, including the political, economic, social and institutional factors that shape change and the role of international, national and local stakeholders in these processes. In doing so, it emphasises the multi-level nature of change and highlights the interrelationship between society, institutions, organisations and individuals. It then goes on to consider the organisational change process, including an examination of the different ways in which various individuals influence, lead and respond to change. It further considers the issue of evaluating the outcomes and successes of organisational change initiatives.

The module emphasises the importance of context and the specific complexities of leading and managing change within public sector organisations. It therefore questions simple ‘prescriptive’ approaches to change management that dominate both the mainstream literature and professional practice. At the same time, it also seeks to enlarge students’ sense of scope for influencing and managing change and the role that tools and techniques can play. The module also introduces theories of organisational change and change management, as well as frameworks for diagnosing, influencing and evaluating change. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate and assess the relevance of these arguments with reference to their own experience and knowledge of change within the public sector. The overall aim is to interrogate established theory and practice and to enable students to analyse and develop ways of dealing with real instances of organisational change within the public sector.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To introduce a broad range of theories and frameworks applicable to leading and managing change in public service organizations;
  • To identify the specific issues and complexities involved in leading and managing change in public sector contexts;
  • To challenge established assumptions around change management;
  • To consider factors that can help or hinder effective change, in relation to individuals, organizations and society;
  • To explore different models of the change agent/change agency;
  • To introduce a multi-level perspective towards change, highlighting inter-relationships between society, institutions, organizations and individuals.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module a student should be able to:

  • Reflect critically on organisational change and change management within different public sector contexts;
  • Discuss how individuals influence, lead and respond to organisational change in the public sector;
  • Assess the merits and limitations of using tools and techniques for diagnosing change requirements and for developing and evaluating effective change;
  • Review examples of organisational change in the public sector and apply theories and frameworks in order to make recommendations on how to achieve effective change


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

Special assessment rules



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

Module feedback

Students will receive oral feedback through seminars and in feedback and guidance hours. Written feedback will be given on summative work within six weeks of submission.

Indicative reading

  • Osborne, S.P. and Brown, K. (2005) Managing Change and Innovation in Public Service Organisations. London: Routledge (available as an e-book)
  • Hughes, M. (2010) Change Management: a Critical Perspective. CIPD: London. (available on short-term loan)

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.