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SP30288: Lobbying, policy communications and democracy

[Page last updated: 04 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: ES 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Part 1 50% Essay (ES 50%)
  • Part 2 50% Essay (ES 50%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: This unit aims to:
1. Provide students with an understanding of relationships between lobbying, policy communications and democracy in different institutional and policy contexts.
2. Give students an opportunity to apply this knowledge in practice by working on real-life scenarios.
3. Help students develop their own view on the role lobbying should play in a democratic polity.

Learning Outcomes: By the end of the unit the students should be able to:
1. Show a well-developed understanding of the nature of lobbying and the role it plays in different democratic polities.
2. Understand key lobbing methods and their operation in different policy contexts.
3. Have an extensive knowledge of the emergence of the lobbying industry, the professionalisation of lobbying and social processes underlying these developments.
4. Demonstrate practical skills in policy communications, especially in designing a real-world lobbying campaign.
5. Be able to offer a critical perspective on alternative approaches to regulating lobbying.

* To think creatively and analytically;
* To communicate an argument;
* To evaluate others' arguments and research;
* To learn independently and be able to assess own learning needs (i.e. identify strengths and improve weaknesses in methods of learning and studying);
* To critically evaluate and assess research and evidence as well as a variety of other information;
* To gather information, data, research and literature from a number of different sources (i.e. library, web-based, archives etc.);
* To select appropriate and relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge;
* To synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding;
* To utilise problem solving skills;
* To analyse and evaluate innovative practices in students' relevant degree discipline;
* To effectively and efficiently apply principles of sociological/social policy analysis within a variety of environments;
* To develop study & learning skills (note taking, avoiding plagiarism, using the library, gathering and using information, constructing a bibliography, referencing);
* To develop inter-personal and communication skills;
* To develop essay research, preparation and writing skills;
* To develop time-management and administrative skills;
* To reflect upon his/her own academic and professional performance and take responsibility for personal and professional learning and development;
* To solve problems in a variety of situations;

Content: PART 1: Lobbying and social science theory
1. Introduction. What is lobbying? (review of social science and legal definitions of lobbying, blurred boundaries between and other forms of policy influence, blurred boundaries between lobbying and illicit practices).
2. Rise of the "lobbying industry" in Washington, London and Brussels (comparison of development of the organisational base of lobbying in Washington and Brussels).
3. Significance of lobbying for social sciences (the role of lobbying within major sociological theories of the state, theories of interest group representation, the communication and exchange models of lobbying).
4. Lobbying and democratic institutions (access mechanisms, functions and dysfunctions of lobbying in different institutional contexts).
PART II: Case studies of lobbying
5. Tobacco and alcohol policies (tobacco: EU Tobacco Control Directive, Plain Packaging in the UK; alcohol: minimum unit pricing policies).
6. Chemical and pharmaceutical policies (chemicals: REACH directive, endocrine disrupters; pharmaceuticals: EU drug registration, pricing and reimbursement in New EU member states).
7. Lobbying in food and agriculture policies (food: cases involving the European Food Safety Authority; agriculture: pesticides, neonicotinoids).
PART III: The practice of lobbying and its regulation
8. The life-cycle of a lobbying campaign (subsequent steps of a model lobbying campaign).
9. Designing lobbying campaigns (group work leading to the development of a lobbying campaign).
10. Lobbying campaign showcase (lobbying campaign pitched before and evaluated by an expert panel).
11. Lobbying reform - possible ways forward (debate on strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to regulating lobbying).

Programme availability:

SP30288 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AYB13 : BA(Hons) French and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AYB12 : BA(Hons) German and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AYB16 : BA(Hons) Italian ab initio and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AYB17 : BA(Hons) Spanish and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AFB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations (Year 3)
  • UHPL-AAB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AKB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics (Year 3)
  • UHPL-AAB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB22 : BSc(Hons) Criminology (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 4)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.