The Politics of Public Policy

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
13 April 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MPP L43012 The Essex MPP,
MPP L43024 The Essex MPP,
MPP L430EB The Essex MPP,
MPP L430JS The Essex MPP,
MA L14312 Economics with Public Policy,
MSC L2P312 Politics, Communications and Data Analytics

Module description

This module introduces the main political arenas and actors that shape public policy in democratic states and beyond.

Students will analyse and debate political conflicts around policymaking in the core arenas of democratic government including elections, parliaments, governments, the bureaucracy, and the judicial system. They will examine the public policy role of interest groups and civil society and explore policymaking beyond and outside of formal governmental arenas as well as in non-democratic states.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce the main political actors and institutions involved in policy making and to scrutinise their interplay.

  • To debate theoretical and analytical perspectives on political conflicts around public policy.

  • To examine the drivers and mechanisms of policy making beyond and outside of formal governmental arenas and the relations between the state and private interests and among public institutions.

  • To acquire and practice the application of analytical skills to analyse specific policy processes.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive awareness of a wide range of political arenas, actors, and institutions that shape public policy.

  2. Demonstrate fluency in theoretical building blocks of how policies are made.

  3. Demonstrate analytical skills to examine specific policy processes and conflicts theoretically and empirically.

  4. Demonstrate the ability to research, analyse, and present policy case studies independently.

Module information

Indicative contents:

Part I: Actors, institutions, and the policy process

  • Political actors

  • The policy cycle

  • Institutions

Part II: Policy conflicts

  • Ideas and coalitions

  • Policy networks

  • Network analysis

Part III: Private, public, and international political actors

  • Governance

  • Lobbying

  • Bureaucracy

  • Beyond the nation state

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught in a weekly 2-hour seminar.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Policy Case Outline    30% 
Coursework   Final Report    60% 
Coursework   Presentation    10% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Philip Leifeld, email: philip.leifeld@essex.ac.uk.
Module Supervisor Dr Thomas Winzen thomas.winzen@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator Jamie Seakens govpgquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Adrian Florea
University of Glasgow
Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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