module specification

SH7061 - Understanding the Policy Process (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Understanding the Policy Process
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 20%   Presentation
Coursework 80%   Extended Essay 4000 words
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module aims to provide a critical understanding of the policy process and challenges confronting countries in policy development, analysis, implementation and evaluation. It uses a range of theoretical and practice-based perspectives from social science disciplines to examine the varying contexts in which health policy is developed and implemented.

Module aims

o To introduce students to a range of theoretical perspectives related to policy process.
o To develop an awareness of the varying social, political, economic and institutional contexts that influence the development of policies in different countries.
o To foster students’ engagement with major contemporary issues and debates in the policy process through group participation in them.


The syllabus will include a consideration of key contexts in which health policy is developed in different countries that will include; the epidemiological and demographic transition; social, economic and political differences; the role of international organisations, such as the World Bank and the World Health Organisation; and the corporate industries. Also included will be a consideration of key health problems confronting developing and transitional economies, reforms and organisation of health markets, citizenship and entitlement to welfare. Some contemporary debates and views such as austerity measures, advocacy and evidence-based policy will also be discussed. 

Key contemporary topics in health and social care policy will be included as well as the influence of international organisations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the corporate practices on policy development. The module will cover the role of public and third sector in development of policies and its implementation. Also, the module will discuss the key models used for policy analysis and evaluation of implementation of policies.  

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching will consist of a structured programme of formal lectures, workshops, seminars and student-led discussions of set material. The module will include a variety of ways for students to explore management theories, policies and concepts using activities to deepen their understanding towards meeting the learning outcomes and the graduate attribute of self-awareness. They include: interactive workshops based on problem solving and analysis of live issues and real cases, personal study, private reading, reflective writing and thinking in advance of class attendance, case studies, critical incidents, role play and small group work, video clips, formal lectures and personal reflection. Keeping a reflective diary for this module is useful.

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 CELT and WebLearn.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:
o Understand and describe accurately how health policy is developed and implemented in practice
o Analyse different policy documents in relation to its particular context
o Evaluate factors that influence the policy process in different countries
o Synthesise and apply competing theoretical and political perspectives that relate to policy development and implementation

Assessment strategy

The assesment will include both formative and summative methods. It will consist of two pieces of assessed work, a presentation and an extended essay. The presentation will require students to present a recent health policy relating to a developed, transitional or developing country. This will be used to provide formative feedback. The extended essay will require students to discuss and critically analyse the health policies and health problems of any particular country. The choice of country will be determined by the choice made for the presentation. For example, if a developing country is chosen for the presentation, then either a transitional or developed country must be chosen for the essay. The essay will provide summative feedback at the end of the course.



Abel-Smith, B. (1997) An Introduction to Health Policy, Planning and Financing. London: Longman.
Armstrong, D. (2003) An Outline of Sociology as Applied to Medicine. Butterworth: Heinmann.
Bennet, S. (eds.) (1997) Private Health Care Providers in Developing Countries. London: Zed Books.
Busfield, J. (2000) Health and Health Care in Modern Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cochrane, A. Clarke, J. and Gewirtz, S. (eds) (2001) Comparing Welfare States. London: Sage in Association with OUP. (Second edition)
Gray, A. (ed.) (1993) World Health and Disease. Buckingham: OUP.
Hart, N. (1995) The Sociology of Health and Medicine. Lancashire: Causeway.
Heller, T. Muston, R. Sidell, M. and Lloyd, C. (eds) (2001) Working for Health. London: OUP in association with Sage.
Hogg, C. (1999) Patients, Power and Politics. London: Sage.
Leys, C. (1996) The Rise and Fall of Development Theory. Oxford: OUP.
MacDonald, T. (2005) Third World Health: Hostage to First World Wealth. Oxford: Radcliffe.
McConway, K. (1994) Studying Health and Disease. Oxford:OUP.
Palfrey, C. (2000) Key Concepts in Health Care Policy and Planning. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Walt, G. (1994) An Introduction To Health Policy: Process and Power. London: Zed Books.
Willman, J. (1998) A Better State of Health. Profile Books.
Useful Journals
Social Science and Medicine (SSM) (W)
Sociology of Health and Illness (SFH)
International Journal of Health Services (IJHS). (W)
Health Policy and Planning
Health Policy
Journal of Public Health Policy
Journal Of Health Service Research and Policy
Health Matters
European Journal of Public Health
Useful Websites