Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Evidence, Evaluation and Policy URBAN5083

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores how policy makers make use of evidence or the knowledge generated by social research, particularly in fields such as health or social policy. It examines the use of existing research and the creation of new evidence through evaluation, and explores initiatives for promoting greater exchange between researchers and policy makers.


The course will be delivered in 3 hourly blocks in semester 2, once per week, over 9 consecutive weeks.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements:


Excluded Courses






Two assignments of each a maximum of 2,000 words. One of these will focus on the relationships between research evidence and policy. The other will focus on evaluation or the generation of research evidence. Each assignment is worth 50% of the overall course grade.



Students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the overall grade for the course is below C3 on the first attempt.

Course Aims

The course explores how policy makers make use of evidence or knowledge generated by social research, particularly in fields such as health or social policy. It examines techniques for appraising, reviewing and synthesising existing research as well as those for the creation of new evidence through evaluation techniques. It considers theoretical perspectives on how evidence is used - and abused - in policy making processes. It explores initiatives by both researchers and policy makers to improve knowledge exchange. The course is concerned with evidence from both quantitative and qualitative research studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ demonstrate a critical appreciation of the ways in which social research evidence is used in the formation of public policy, including how this has developed over time and how it varies within and between countries;

■ provide a critical appraisal of quantitative or qualitative research studies, and have a critical awareness of the techniques of literature review, research synthesis and secondary data analysis;

■ identify the general challenges in project or programme evaluation, and show a critical awareness of different approaches to addressing these; and

■ demonstrate a critical awareness of the factors which influence how social research evidence is used within policy as well as of approaches to strengthening connections between research and policy;

■ write a well-structured assignment.

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.