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SP50321: Public policy case analysis

[Page last updated: 01 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 12 [equivalent to 24 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 240
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Academic Year
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Public Policy Case Analysis (CW 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: At the end of this unit, students will have:
* in-depth critical understanding of how data and politics of knowledge production intersect with economics and politics to shape public policy in a self-chosen specialist policy area. (T/F/A)
* in-depth critical understanding of the key economic, political and social forces, in a specialist policy area, and how these interact to shape dynamics of public policy in a self-chosen case (T/F/A)
* in-depth critical understanding of the implications of public policy development and operationalization, for social, economic and/or political outcomes in a specialist policy area. (F/A)

Aims: This unit
* facilitates students' understanding of how multiple forces and constraints (units I & II), and forms of knowledge (unit III) come together to shape specific policy cases.
* advances students' experience and expertise in practice-oriented policy analysis through the synthesis of conceptual knowledge and empirical application to support recommendations for policy development and delivery.
* enhances students' in-depth knowledge and understanding of their specialist policy areas, whether professionally or by drawing on the research and scholarship of the University of Bath.

Skills: At the end of this unit, students will be able to:
* critically evaluate the relevance and applicability of specific types of data and evidence for a particular policy area.
* demonstrate, and evaluate, how politics of knowledge production generates gaps and blindpots and propose relevant alternative approaches in a specific public policy area.
* review, plan and design knowledge, data and evidence production for a specific policy area, taking account of the specific political, economic and social contexts for this policy.
* critically review, and use, data in a rigorous and ethical way as part of making a persuasive case for public policy.

Content: The public policy case analysis requires students to prepare a contextualized analysis of a specified public policy problem (as if) for a key public policy decisionmaker. The bulk of the case analysis reviews existing data, knowledge and evidence. It identifies and explains key gaps in knowledge and evaluating their implications for public policy.
This unit comprises supervised but self-directed learning. It is designed to challenge students' ability to set clear research/project objectives and self-manage their completion.
Students are supported by individual tuition with an academic supervisor and use of the library of Public Policy Case Study Library (PPCS) that accompany the programme. Under supervision, students may also undertake their case analysis using a case from their professional context.
Each PPCS in the Library is compiled, structured and led by University of Bath staff who have research expertise in area. Each PPCS relating to a specified social, political, and/or economic challenge, comprises:
* A paper outlining key contexts, conditions and issues and exploring key dimensions of the policy domain
* Key sources of data and existing research from diverse perspectives and institutions
* Secondary sources, reports and online materials, organised around key relevant dimensions of the specified challenge
Initial discussion of case study selection (how to think about selection; how to use professional experience) will be introduced in residential 2.
The Academic Tutor is responsible for assigning students to designated supervisors in the student's broad field of interest by residential 3.
Supervisors are responsible for helping students specify their 'public policy case' and for formative feedback during this unit.
Written protocols and guidance on format and structure of the case analysis are available for students from residential 2.

Programme availability:

SP50321 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • 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.