module specification

SH7061 - Understanding the Policy Process (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Understanding the Policy Process
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 210
74 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
100 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Written Repose to a live policy consultation (1,500)
Other 0%   Policy report plan and evidence repertoire, 800 words
Coursework 70%   Policy Report 3000 words
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This Module uses a range of theoretical and practice-based perspectives from social science disciplines to examine the varying contexts in which public policy is developed and implemented and those that shape health and social care policy, in particular. Hence, you will have an opportunity to learn the theories that explain the processes and challenges of both policy development and policy implementation, and apply them to real policy examples in different countries you are familiar with. The linear design of the Module learning along the policy process from agenda setting to policy evaluation will help you to develop a knowledge base on the policy process that is embedded in critical examination of real world examples at each stage. You will also be able to participate in a policy simulation of a live policy consultation which is designed to give you a deeper insight into health and social care policy-making process in the UK. The activity is a valuable tool for reflection on your own practice and for contrast with health and social care policy-making process in other countries.      

The Module aims to:
• introduce students to a range of theoretical perspectives related to the policy process.
• provide a critical understanding of the policy process and of challenges confronting countries in health and social care policy development, analysis, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
• develop an awareness of the varying social, political, economic and institutional contexts that influence the development of health policies in different countries.
• foster an engagement with major contemporary issues and debates in the policy process through group participation.


Indicative Syllabus Structure:

• Introduction to the Policy Process [LO1]
• Theoretical Approaches [LO1]
• Agenda Setting: Power and Influence [LO1, LO2, LO3]
• Policy Formulation: Actors and Evidence [LO1, LO2, LO3]
• Policy Implementation: Customisation and Challenges in Implementation [LO1, LO2, LO3]
• Policy Evaluation, Monitoring and Auditing [LO1, LO2, LO3]
• Case- Studies: Health and Social Care Policy in the UK and beyond [LO4]

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching on this Module is based on blended learning of a structured programme of formal lectures, interactive workshops, student-led discussions, independent directed research, group work and online activities. The Module will include a variety of ways for you to explore the policy process through diverse theoretical perspectives, applying different models of analysis and investigating issues arising at each stage of policy making. You will be able to engage in a Westminster Select Committee Style Policy Inquiry (Evidence Gathering Session in Week 9), thus bringing together the theoretical and practical strands of this Module. Hence, this exercise is designed as a reflective instrument that will help you reflect on your own practice and contrast with arrangements administered in other countries you are familiar with. 

Online Activities 
You will use the online platform we call WebLearn extensively - guidance will be given during the Module about how to best use this. Blended learning is designed to support and enhance your learning and provide diverse ways of engaging with the subject matter explored in this Module. Hence, you will be able to use WebLearn to access podcasts, videos, various scheduled and non-scheduled readings for directed and free self-study of the Module material. You will also be able to use this platform for forum discussions and group work.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this Module, you will be able to:

• Synthesise and apply competing theoretical and political perspectives that relate to policy development, implementation and evaluation [LO1]
• Analyse different policy documents in relation to its particular context [LO2]
• Evaluate factors that influence the policy process in different countries [LO3]
• Critique accurately how health and social care policy is developed, implemented and evaluated in practice [LO4]

Assessment strategy

The following explains the assessment strategy on this Module which includes both formative and summative assessments:

1) Summative Assessment 1 - a 1,500-word Written Consultation Response. This requires you to outline your stakeholder position in relation to an ongoing public consultation. The response needs to contextualise the issue addressed in the policy consultation and how it affects the stakeholder presently. You will be required to interrogate relevant policy process theories that apply to the policy consultation and reflect on your own practice and the consultation process as you apply them. As this assesses against LO1 and LO4, you will have to demonstrate your ability to apply the policy process theories to the live consultation.

2) Formative Assessment – working towards the second summative assessment, you will first have to submit a formative assessment consisting of a policy report plan and an evidence repertoire of 800 words.

3) Summative Assessment 2- a Policy Report of 3,000 words. This requires you to discuss a particular health policy or social care policy or health and social care policy, choosing to focus on one of the policy process sides:
a) Policy Formulation – policy objectives, how the issue got on the agenda, evidence base, policy formulation process and theories underpinning the development of the policy.
b) Policy Implementation – policy objectives, instruments, implementation and evaluation, supported by a theoretical discussion.
The Policy Report requires you to demonstrate achievement of all the learning outcomes of the Module by being able to apply the relevant policy process theories and reflecting on the context and policy process of the policy being examined.