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The University of Southampton

PAIR6036 Advanced Policy Analysis

Module Overview

The subject provides an overview of the key elements of policy analysis. Key theoretical models are used to equip students with an analytical framework for conducting detailed policy analyses. The approaches covered include the rational model and evidenced based policy-making; incrementalism; network analysis, governance, and interpretive policy analysis. The subject covers key facets of policy making such as implementation and evaluation, and the main tools of analysis, stressing the importance of narratives to effective policy analysis.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply skills in policy analysis
  • Analyse the context in which policies are developed and implemented
  • Review and critique existing examples of policy analysis
  • Produce an analysis of a specific policy problem


Description The course is taught on an intensive basis. Four days will be taught in the Examination week prior to the beginning of Semester 2 (last full week in January, normally). The final day will be at the start of the Exam period in Semester 2 (mid-late May, normally) to allow the student’s time to read and assimilate material; to prepare their policy analysis, and to give them the opportunity for a Q&A session on group and project work. CORE LECTURES 8 x 1.5 hours 1. The rational model and evidence-based policy analysis 2. Policy network analysis 3. Three waves of governance 4. Qualitative tools of policy analysis 5. Bottom-up implementation and street level bureaucrats 6. Stakeholder and fourth generation evaluation 7. Interpretive policy analysis 8. Politicians, bureaucrats & advisers CASE STUDIES 4 x 1.5 hours I have over a dozen case studies to draw on. I will use four during the course. The final selection will depend on the interest and expertise of the students. As we hope to recruit from the public sector, I consider such ‘tailoring’ essential. SEMINARS 4 x 1.5 hours The seminars will bring course participants together with senior practitioners, both providers and users of policy analysis. Normally they will focus on a specific policy problem. GROUP PROJECT 4 x 1.5 hours There will be a continuing, group-based policy analysis across the first four days with at least one session a day. Each student will be asked to bring two problems to the course. Each group will select the problem to be analysed blind. After all, policy analysts in government do not choose the problems they work on. The groups will also report back on the their continuing policy problem on Day 5 RESEARCH SUPERVISION 6 hours; the format will be small groups but how small and the duration will depend on the number of students. All research supervision will be on Day 5. Everyone will produce a piece of policy analysis. Research supervision will be in small groups and cover selection of problems, and design of their report. Each student will have the opportunity for a Q&A session on their project but the reports will not be read in draft.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures by the course leader Group discussion of ‘Harvard style’ case studies of policy making. Seminars with visiting speakers, predominantly senior practitioners or users of policy analysis. Group based problem-solving exercise focused on current policy problems

Independent Study164
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Case studies. The requisite books and journals are in the library most in the reserved collection. For the assessment of group work, the case studies are provided by the convener through Blackboard. For the policy analysis exercise the resources are publicly available on the internet.


Assessment Strategy

Summative 10% Case Study Analysis is group work 20% Essay is a Literature Review 70% Evidence Review is a policy analysis for senior decision maker Referral 30% Essay (Literature Review) and 70% Evidence Review (Policy analysis for senior decision maker) on different topics


MethodPercentage contribution
Case Study Analysis 10%
Essay 20%
Evidence Review 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 30%
Evidence Review 70%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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