Making Public Policy in the Real World PUBPOL3018

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines policy making in the real world, about how policy agendas and ideas develop and how solutions are produced. Drawing on a broad range of policy examples, from terrorism to mad cow disease (BSE) the course explores how ideas get translated into practice and what can go wrong for the policy maker.


Ten 2 hour classes

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Social & Public Policy normally requires a grade point average of 12 (grade C3) over Social & Public Policy 2A and 2B (formerly Public Policy 2A and 2B) as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses





One 3000 word written assessment (worth 50%) and one two hour exam (worth 50%).

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

■ To provide an appreciation of what can be learned from studying the policy process

■ To develop an understanding of different conceptual approaches to policy analysis

■ To develop skills in applying policy analysis tools to real world problems.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Compare explanations of policy making as a rational or incremental processes and explain how these relate to the use of evidence in policy process

■ Identify the role that institutions and institutional arrangements have in shaping policy types and styles.

■ Explain the challenges to policy making posed by multi-level government and supranational organisations

■ Describe the actors involved in policy networks and communities and explain how power may be exercised within such arrangements. 

■ Evaluate alternative approaches to citizen involvement - FOI, citizen's juries, referenda and so on.

■ Discuss the advantages of, and problems with, policy transfer from other countries

■ Evaluate the merits of different approaches to policy evaluation

■ Critique how judgements of overall policy failure or success might be made

■ Demonstrate the relevance of policy analysis concepts and techniques to specific domains of social and public policy.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.