module specification

GI7004 - Researching Public Services (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Researching Public Services
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 200
35 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
165 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay
Coursework 50%   Research Proposal
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

 The module enables students to design and conduct research in a public service setting (including that required for projects and dissertations), to understand key debates in public policy research and to bid for and evaluate bids for funding.

The principal aims of this module are to provide students with:

the opportunity to develop understanding of research as a holistic process, and to gain familiarity with the different stages involved in the design and conduct of a research project
an appreciation of the range of research methods and techniques available, and the capacity to make informed and appropriate choices when designing projects
an awareness and understanding of the key methodological issues that arise in research, and the ability to address them in research plans
the capacity to read critically and to evaluate published research studies
a familiarity with the policy making process
the ability to analyse the decision making process and to provide policy analysis for decision making
the ability to analyse the implementation and impact of public policies including use of the comparative method.


 This module will cover the following topics:
Research Design and Planning LO1, LO2
Defining Data and Choosing Sources LO1, LO2
Doing a Literature Review LO2
Developing a research proposal LO2, LO3, LO5
Choosing Methods I – Quantitative Research Basics LO2, LO3
Choosing Methods II – Qualitative Research Basics LO2, LO3
Choosing Methods III – Mixed Methods Approach LO2, LO3
Choosing Methods IV – The Comparative Method & Policy Analysis LO2, LO3, LO4
Selecting Informants LO2
Data Analysis for policy research and evaluation LO4, LO6
Writing and reporting research findingsLO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module teaching is based on weekly lectures (or block teaching in the summer term) and seminar classes, where specific group-work exercises have been developed to provide students with an opportunity to examined in more detail some of the main conceptual and methodological issues covered in lectures.

The approach to teaching is based on facilitating the application of concepts, methods and principles to practice-related contexts, and students’ integration of learning in relation to real world scenarios. This approach to teaching aims to develop students’ ability to think critically about data and evidence, and to draw appropriate inferences in accordance with the stated learning outcomes.

The above teaching methods will be complemented by students’ independent study on the module. Students will be required to read, on a weekly basis, recommended chapters in the core textbook, or to access other relevant educational material.

The module will be using WebLearn - guidance will be given during the module about how to best use this. It is designed to support students learning providing access to wider reading and resources to help to prepare for each session e.g. websites, policy documents and articles and or to revise and deepen knowledge after sessions e.g. lecture notes. Students are encouraged to use other learning resources such as the Library and the Academic Mentors and WebLearn.

Learning outcomes

 On completion students will be able to:
1. Plan and design a research proposal which demonstrates a clear understanding of methods relevant to their area of study, and demonstrating a systematic and creative approach with sound justification for research decisions [LO1]
2. Demonstrate systematic understanting and critical appreciation of methodological issues and awareness of practical choices in research [LO2]
3. Critically evaluate methodological skills required for planning and carrying out a research project [LO3]
4. Demonstarte systematic understanting and practical application of the techniques of policy analysis [LO4]
5. Demonstrate systematic understanding and critical appreciation of the case study approach and be able to use and develop a case study [LO5]
6. Demonstrate systematic understanding and application of the comparative method [LO6]

Assessment strategy

 This module will assess both the methodological and public policy elements.  Students will be expected to:
1. Prepare a critique of a piece of published policy research -  (50%).  This should be no more than 2,000 words and is due for submission in week 6 [LO2, LO4]
2. Develop a research proposal to form the basis for either a) a bid for funding or b) your dissertation (50%). This should be no more than 2,000 words and is due for final submission in week 15 [LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6]
Students will have the opportunity to submit a draft of the research proposal to receive formative feedback prior to submission



Bell, J & Waters S.(2014) Doing Your Research Project (6th ed), Open University Press E-BOOK

Blaxter, L. et al (2010) How to Research (4thd ed), Open University Press

Burnham, P, Gilland Lutz, K, et al, (2008) “Research and the Policy Process”, in Research Methods in Politics, 2nd ed, chapter 12, pp 305 – 324, Palgrave.

Cairney, P (2012) Understanding Public Policy, Palgrave.

Creswell, J. (2014) Research Design, SAGE eBook

Davies HTO, Nutley SM and Smith PM (2000) What Works? Evidence-based policy and practice in public services Policy Press Hill M, & Varone, F. (2017) The Public Policy Process 7th ed, Harvester Wheatsheaf

Knoepfel, P. (2011) Public Policy Analysis, Bristol: Policy Press

Alasuutari, P. & Bickman, L., Julia B (2009) The SAGE handbook of Social Research methods, Sage.

Dunn, W. N. (2014) Public Policy Analysis, Harlow: Pearson

Gilbert N. (2008) Researching Social Life (3rd ed), Sage.

Hennink, M., Hutter, I. and Bailey, A.(2010) Qualitative research methods, Sage

Institute for Government, (2012), Evidence and Evaluation for Policy Making, London: IfG

Matthews, B. and Matthews, L. R., (2010) Research Methods: a practical guide for the social sciences,  Longman.

May, T. (2011) Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process (4th ed), Open University Press

McConnell, A (2011) Understanding Policy Success, Palgrave.

Additional texts will be provided each week.

Online sources & Academic Journals

• Institute for Government:
• ESRC What Works Centres:
• International Journal of Social Research Methodology (Quarterly)
• Sociological Research Online (
• Public Administration 
• Public Money and Management
• Public Policy and Administration
• Public Finance