Social and Public Policy 2B: Policy, Politics and Power PUBPOL2011

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 2 (SCQF level 8)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces the politics and power dynamics of policy making and implementation. Students will examine how selected social problems (e.g. teenage pregnancy and welfare reform) are constructed and why some are high on the policy making agenda whilst others are not.


■ three lectures per week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 12 - 1)

■ a weekly tutorial (8 in total, timeslots scheduled on Mondays throughout the day, one hour)

Requirements of Entry

For entry to this course, students must have achieved at least grade D3 in either Social and Public Policy1A/Public Policy 1A or Social and Public Policy1B/Public Policy 1B.

Excluded Courses



One 2500 word assignment (65%) and one 'seen' 750 word online open book exam (25%).

The set exercise is for active participation (10%) in tutorials and completion of an online peer review exercise (Aropa).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about policy responses to selected social problems via an examination of politics and power;

■ explore the ways in which social problems are socially constructed in political discourse, public debate and policy presentation;

■ locate the lived experiences of social problems within the context of global and local inequalities; and

■  differentiate between policy design, implementation and lived experience.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ demonstrate knowledge of the contested and politicised nature of policy formation and implementation

■ apply the concepts of power and powerlessness to understand how policies are experienced differentially in an unequal society

■ identify a range of factors that influence how, when and why selected social problems make it onto policy making agendas

■ differentiate between robust evidence and media portrayals of policy issues

■ distinguish different perspectives on policy design, implementation and lived experience

■ analyse a range of social policies critically

■ evaluate different types of evidence and argument

■ present ideas verbally and in writing, with an appreciation of different audiences

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.


Other requirements: regular attendance and minimum grade of G.