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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Political Theory and Public Policy
Module Code LG5060
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Ross Carroll
Semester 2: Volkan Yilmaz
Autumn: Volkan Yilmaz
Module TeachersVolkan Yilmaz
Ross Carroll
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

While most politicians and policymakers agree on desired outcomes (peace, low unemployment, health etc.), they often disagree fundamentally on how to achieve these. They suggest different policies, and in so doing, they invoke big principles to defend their choices - fairness, equality, social justice, liberty, for instance. Public policies, then, assume some things about these principles. But how can lowering tax be both defended and opposed on the same principle? This module aims to allow students of public policy to step back from the technical analysis of policies to look at the ideas that underpin policy choices. What institutions and ideologies govern the organisation of public policy formulation? What principles of justice should inform public policy? Should markets be left alone or should we seek to control them? And how should we understand the relationship between markets and politics? How should our public discourses and practices reflect the need to tackle pressing social, economic, and political issues? How do we decide what is pressing? The module offers a critical reflection on the design and evaluation of public policies from the perspective of political philosophy and political theory.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand how democracy as a normative value and the implementation of public policies interact.
2. Compare and analyse positions taken by political theorists and political philosophers on such questions.
3. Demonstrate the importance of different intellectual traditions in shaping public policy.
4. Understand the values with which democracy competes in policy implementation.
5. Apply insights to those debates and to policy debates more generally.
6. Evaluate the use of theoretical analysis in contemporary policy development.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture22Lectures, seminar
Independent Study90Preparatory Readings for Class, background readings for assessments
Independent Study11Preparing and submitting 2-3 questions for weekly submission, 30 minutes
Group work25Preparing for a group presentation
Independent Study102Preparing and submitting a research paper
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

The concept of liberty
Students will engage with debates, both historical and contemporary, on the concept of liberty. This will address questions such as those that follow: What does it mean to enjoy liberty in modern political communities? What impact does state interference - laws, taxes or regulations, for example - have on citizens' liberty? How might conceptual arguments concerning liberty be relevant to concrete policy debates in education, healthcare or social security? There will be a particular focus on libertarian and republican accounts of liberty.

The concept of justice
Students will engage in scholarship on theories of distributive justice. This will address questions such as those that follow: What roles have merit and work ethic to play in access to social goods and resources? What about apparently morally arbitrary factors, such as the socio-economic class into which one is born, or the talent or intelligence one is born with? How might conceptual arguments concerning distributive justice be relevant to contemporary policy debates? There will be a particular emphasis on utilitarian, modern liberal (Rawls) and libertarian (Nozick) accounts.

The concept of democracy
Students will engage in scholarship on theories of democracy. They will address questions such as the following: Is democracy concerned fundamentally with voting and elections? How, if at all, are notions such as reasonableness, participation and deliberation relevant to the concept of democracy? What institutional mechanisms are required by the value of democratic control? Which conceptions of democracy are more coherent, and how might those conceptions inform contemporary public policy debates?

Students will engage with scholarship on citizenship in the modern, ethically diverse, democratic state. They will address questions such as the following: What are citizens' responsibilities in the democratic discourse around policy formation? How far can the state go in developing civic and democratic virtue? What about exemptions for insular or minority groups? What kind of schooling is best suited to address concerns around citizenship in the modern state? There will be an emphasis on liberal and republican theories around citizenship.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Research Papern/a80%n/a
ParticipationFormulating questions for class discussion10%n/a
Group presentationIn-class group Presentation10%n/a
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

    Other Resources

    Programme or List of Programmes
    GCPPSGraduate Certificate in Public Policy
    MPPMSc in Public Policy

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