Public Policy Analysis - PO947

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 20 (10)







Please note: This module is owned by the VUB (Free University of Brussels) as partner institution. Kent students can take the module under certain conditions and will receive Kent credit for successfully completing it (on a pass/fail basis). The content is subject to minor change and the calendar of the term may differ slightly.

Public policy analysis is a problem-oriented, multidisciplinary, and value-oriented system of analysing policy, both for descriptive and prescriptive ends. The methods used stretch over several disciplines, but this course aims to introduce the approach to policy analysis practiced in political science. It divides the policy process in phases and presents the most important theoretical approaches and research results that illuminate the specific features of each moment in the policy cycle, from the setting of an agenda, through decision-making, to the implementation and evaluation of policy. Contrasting theoretical approaches are presented as reflections of a tension between policy analysis for policy and about policy. The student acquires critical tools for a better understanding of present day policy analysis and the relative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches, which are then applied in the preparation of a model policy analysis.
The course introduces the policy cycle approach. Subsequently, major approaches to public policy analysis are introduced and evaluated in view of their explanatory strengths and weaknesses. The course then offers an in depth discussion of each policy phase in the cycle, highlighting key theoretical and empirical contributions relevant to the policy phase under scrutiny. While learning the policy cycle approach, we will concentrate on key concepts and case studies, aimed at the furthering of critical skills needed for contextual and fine analysis of policy. The course offers students a framework to conduct their own research on a policy or policy reform/change. Students need to apply the policy cycle approach to a concrete case study, in the form of a Briefing Note.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

25th September – 22nd December - Monday 8:00 – 10:00 am _ VUB Building D, room 3.08


Autumn or Spring Term

Method of assessment

Assessment methods are set by the partner institution in accordance with its own rules and regulations and may vary year-to-year. Assessments may include an individually written essays; group presentations; discussions and debates. Students should refer to the module guide for more detailed information.
Kent will assess the module on a pass/fail basis therefore, credit achieved for this module will be contributory to the student's degree programme but will not contribute to the degree classification.

Indicative reading

M. Howlett, M. Ramesh, Studying public policy. Policy cycles and policy subsystems, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario, 2003.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history of policy analysis and the most common approaches in political science;
2. Demonstrate strong familiarity with different methods in policy analysis and the advantages and disadvantages;
3. Discuss critically examples of current practice and research in policy;
4. Demonstrate advanced skills in the preparation and presentation of a briefing note.
5. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of methods and methodologies in their discipline;

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