Masters Modules.

Policymaking in the Real World.

Policymaking is an increasingly complex process, involving a range of ‘wicked problems’, an expanding cast of policy actors and a growing set of options for addressing them. Given the multiple risks and crises with which they must deal, how can policymakers design effective policy, learn from mistakes and deal with unexpected events? What tools can they employ to do so and how can we evaluate their success or failure? This module will provide you with a theoretically informed, but practice-focused approach to these questions. You will gain a range of practical skills through innovative group projects and visiting speakers from the policy world.

The module is divided into two main parts. In the first part, we consider some of the choices that policymakers make when designing policy. These include the costs and benefits of delegation, the 'added-value' of working with experts, the role of the private sector and the challenge of engaging with the public. These choices are set in the wider political context, and we consider issues such as electoral pressures and ideology. The second part of the module focuses on the challenges that policymakers are often required to address. We consider the difficulties associated with monitoring performance and learning from policy failure, the constraints of austerity, the spotlight of media scrutiny and the intense pressure that comes from external shocks and crises.


This module is typically taught through a varied programme of workshops, seminars and lectures over the semester.

During 2017-18, students on this module have participated in academic seminars, applied their knowledge in problem solving workshops, and engaged with policymakers and those responsible for implementation in 'policy labs'.


The module is typically assessed through individual coursework and group project work.

During 2017-18, students completed a piece of individual coursework, which required them to combine academic insights and empirical knowledge to address a pressing issue in the field of policymaking. Students also worked in small groups to deliver an applied policy report, in which a policy problem was address and solution proposed.

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