The University of Southampton

PAIR6009 Public Policy and Democracy

Module Overview

This module provides a master's level introduction to how and why state policy is produced, with an eye towards interrogating the conditions under which "public" is perhaps only a euphemism. It looks at emerging trends and ideas in the policy world about how to orient the policy process more towards the public, and critically examines the desirability and plausibility of many of these moves. The course will draw upon real-world examples to illuminate academic debates, encouraging students to make links between theory and practice.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: - The normative arguments for greater public inclusion in the policy making process. - Important trends in policymaking practice that are related to these arguments. - These emerging practices and their capacity to include and exclude. - The possibilities and limitations of making public policy more inclusive.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically assess the normative arguments for greater public inclusion in the policymaking process.
  • Link academic arguments about inclusion in the policy process to real-world issues and events.
  • Apply independent research skills both to relevant academic literatures and policy-oriented documents and evidence.
  • Use oral communication skills for the purpose of presenting research findings


Across the span of twelve 2-hour seminar sessions, a range of topics related to the overarching theme will be explored, including: open policymaking, stakeholder consultation, citizen engagement and e-democracy.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course aims to familiarise students with key arguments about inclusion and exclusion in public policymaking, and to give them the tools required to critically analyse them. The theoretical/conceptual material is complemented by empirical cases studies real-world issues in public policy. Where appropriate, students will also be introduced to academic scholarship which sometimes challenges the intentions and expectations of bureaucrats, activists, policymakers, and mass publics. The case studies will make use of primary policy documents – such as government white papers, parliamentary papers, think tank reports etc. – which help contextualize the academic material, and expose students to ‘real world’ policy making. Consequently, each 2-hour seminar session is based on students prior engagement with a set of core theoretical readings, and with a set of primary policy documents, and thus comprises a number of key parts in terms of teaching and learning methods: - Introduction by convenor to the key issues and topics surrounding each issue. - Group-based discussion and exploration of the key theoretical / conceptual materials of relevance, guided by specific questions outlined in advance. - Group-based analysis of relevant primary documents, discussion of the policy issues involved, and linkage to the conceptual material explored. The teaching and learning method employed is designed to fulfil the learning outcomes by building confidence in the discussion of conceptual material, and exposing students to ‘real world’ issues associated with policymaking in democratic contexts.

Independent Study176
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Opening up Policy Making. Rutter, Jill. (2012). Opening up Policy Making: A Case Study of the National Planning Policy Framework and Other Models of More Open Policy Making. Institute for Government: London.

Deliberative Policy Analysis. Hajer, Maarten A. and Henrik Wagenaar eds. (2003). Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See editors' introduction especially, available here:

Wiki Government. Noveck, Beth S. (2009). Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. Brookings Institution Press: Washington, D. C.

Democracy in Motion. Tina Nabatchi et al. (eds.), Democracy in Motion: Evaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement. Oxford University Press: New York.



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (2000 words) 40%
Coursework  (3000 words) 40%
Presentation (Case study) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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