module specification

GI7075 - Comparative Public Policy (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Comparative Public Policy
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 200
165 hours Guided independent study
35 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Seminar Presentation
Coursework 70%   Essay (3,000 words)
Running in 2020/21

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

Module summary

The module will explore the explanations that have been given for the variations in policy in fields such as health, education, urban policy, etc between nations and groups of nations. It will draw on examples of policy in each area from both developing and developed nations. Students will be encouraged to research case studies in particular fields of policy and to present these. The instructional model is devoted to a comparative analysis of local policies in some of the most important social fields.  The general principles of government policy are considered in turn, along with a comparative study of national economic development policy, social policy, and policy in health, education and public order.  There will be special topics consisting of the basic directions of local policy (municipal development, public services and transport).  Having studied the model, the students will have gained an overall impression of typical problems tackled at national level in these areas, ways of solving them in different states and the machinery of government policy in these areas.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to provide students with a detailed understanding of:
1. The methods and approaches of comparative public policy
2  The typical problems and methods adopted by governments in each of the chosen spheres
3.  The relative merits of differing explanations for variations in policies and outcomes in different countries

The aim of the course is to study foreign experience in implementing national and local policy in various fields.  Investigating the practice of public administration in various fields from a comparative perspective makes it possible to identify typical reasons for the success or failure of State policy, the prerequisites for particular policies and how they impact on the methods used to implement them.

The exercises include:
• studying typical problems and typical methods of State intervention in chosen fields.
• studying specific examples of government policy in action.
• comparing different policies.


1/ Rationales for studying comparative public policy – policy transfer and lesson learning.

2/ methodologies of comparison

3/ policy making in comparative perspective

4/ policy specific comparative studies – social policy, education, health, urban policy, privatisation, public administration reform

Learning and teaching

The course material is studied through a combination of lectures and discussions and practical exercises.  The lecture-discussion identifies the general features of the area of State activity under consideration, and in the practical exercises the students analyse and compare particular examples.  The discussions at the seminars are organized around problem issues set out in the lectures and around presentations of particular cases by the students themselves.  Blended learning is provided through Weblearn, which is used to provide a range of relevant materials to facilitate private study by students.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course the students will be able to:
• critically evaluate examples of the implementation of government policy in chosen areas.
• be able to analyse and evaluate the stages of implementation, the results and the reasons for success or failure of national (or local) policy in specific instances,
• compare different approaches to policy policy,
• be able to place the process of formulating and implementing policy in its economic, political and sociological context,
• draw on a range of appropriate methodologies in producing valid comparisions.

Assessment strategy

Each student will be required to select one of the seminar topics to form the basis of a short (maximum 15 minute) presentation. The presentation should be accompanied by the use of appropriate visual aids and handouts, which should be handed in at the end of the session.

Each student should complete a 3000 word essay:

‘Choose any one area of public policy and show how policies in one country/region may differ from those in another. What factors account for the differences and similarities in the policies you observe?’

Assessment criteria:

Imaginative and effective use of communication techniques (presentation only)
Clear understanding of the relevant concepts and ideas
Ability to explain contrasting interpretations of issues in comparative public policy
Evidence of research into concrete policies in particular countries/regions
Use of wide range of internet and conventional academic sources
Ability to link your argument to material from other subjects and disciplines where relevant
Ability to critically analyse and interpret evidence
Ability to structure argument and evidence so as to reach valid conclusions


Adolino, J and Blake, C (2010), 2nd ed, Comparing public policies: issues and choices in six industrialised countries, Washington, QC Press
Blank, RH and Burau, V (2007), 2nd ed,  Comparative Health Policy, Macmillan
Cairney, P. (2012), Understanding Public Policy: theories and issues, Palgrave
Carroll, P, Common, R (eds), (2013), Policy Transfer and Learning in Public Policy and Management, Routledge.
Dodds, A, (2013), Comparative Public Policy, Palgrave.
Evans, M & Buller, J, (2004)  Policy Transfer in Global Perspective, Ashgate
Knill, C & Tosun, J, (2012), Public Policy: A new Introduction, Palgrave
Michael Marinetto (1999), Studies of the Policy Process, A case analysis, Prentice Hall Europe.
O’Neil & Rogowski (2010),  Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, 3rd ed, Norton.
Pollitt, C and Bouckaert, G (2004), Public Management Reform: a comparative analysis, Oxford UP
Rose, R (2004), Learning lessons in Comparative Public Policy: a guide to analysis, Routledge

Online Sources