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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Public Policy Analysis
Module Code LG5003
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Eoin O'Malley
Semester 2: Volkan Yilmaz
Autumn: Volkan Yilmaz
Module TeachersEoin O'Malley
Volkan Yilmaz
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

The purpose of this course is to enable students to analyse policy proposals for their likely impacts. This will build on some fundamental blocks of social science. Students will learn about causation, evidence and conditions to define policy problems and set out the elements to make a decision on policy. This will include setting out competing theories of human behaviour - particularly those from economics, sociology and psychology. It will identify instruments available to policy makers, and consideration of implementation in policy design. Throughout the course case studies will give practical effect to the theoretical approach. In that context the course will look at specific real world situations across a variety of analytical frameworks and examples in areas such as health, education, transport, and emergent technologies.

Learning Outcomes

1. Determine which public policy proposal is 'best' given certain criteria
2. critically examine policy proposals
3. select criteria for decisions
4. identify 'good' evidence for expected policy impacts
5. understand competing theories of human behaviour
6. construct arguments for which theory of behaviour is most appropriate
7. articulate arguments on policy issues

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture11No Description
Assignment Completion2Identify policy problems
Assignment Completion2Frame policy
Seminars11Peer discussion
Directed learning2No Description
Assignment Completion16prepare analysis of own proposals
Assignment Completion6prepare presentation
Directed learning10overnight prep for class discussion
Independent Study190reading and study
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Abstracting policy problems
This section gives the tools to think of policy problems in abstract terms, such as scarce resources, collective action problems, free rider, principal-agent etc.

Policy Instruments
This section will study policy instruments available to policy makers, first in an abstract way (Marketisation, collectivisation, anarchy), and then looking at how these manifest themselves in practical terms (regulation, taxation, privatisation, prohibition, provision, information etc.)

Causality, data and evidence
This section will briefly introduce theories of causation, using case studies of policy to illustrate these. We will also look at the nature of evidence and what is necessary to make claims for data being evidence for a particular policy proposal.

Theories of Human Behaviour
This section will give students an understanding of different explanations for how humans behave. These include rational choice theory, sociological theories and psychological theories. Again using case studies we will consider under what circumstances each is appropriate.

The Process of Policy Analysis
This will begin the practical process of doing policy analysis in class, where we consider (and practise) problem definition, criteria for decisions, finding appropriate evidence, programme design, implementation, unintended consequences)

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Assignmentshort assignment setting out a problem definition for a policy problem, incl. identifying the problem/ harm, describe the cause, assign blame, and defend why the government should be involved in its solution. This should give an abstract explanation of the nature of the problem, f.i. collective action, co-ordination, externality etc.10%
Oral ExaminationPresent policy problem and issues associated with it. This will build on the first assignment and be a presentation of a draft second assignment.10%
Assignment3-5000 word research paper based on earlier assignments which set out and evaluate rival solutions to a problem. These should include50%
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Eugene Bardach: 2012, A Practical Guide to Policy Analysis, 4th ed., Sage/ CQ, Los Angeles,
  • Nancy Cartwright and Jeremy Hardie: 2012, Evidence Based Policy - A Practical Guide to Doing it Better, OUP, Oxford,
  • Charles F. Manski: 2013, Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decision, Harvard UP, Cambridge MA,
  • David Weimer and Aidan Vining: 2014, Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice, 5th ed., Pearson, Harlow,
  • Adam Oliver (ed.): 2013, Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge UP, Cambridge,
  • Peter John et al.: 2011, Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with ways to change civic behaviour, Bloomsbury, London,
  • Jon Elster: 2007, Explaining Social Behavior: More nuts and Bolts for the social sciences, Cambridge UP, New York,
  • Eldar Shafir (ed.): 2013, The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy, Princeton UP, Princeton, NJ,
  • Moran, Rein & Goodin: 2006, The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, OUP, Oxford,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
GCPPSGraduate Certificate in Public Policy
MELPMaster of Arts in European Law & Policy
MPPMSc in Public Policy

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