PP405      Half Unit
Public Policy Applications

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sara Hagemann and Prof Nicholas Barr


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.


This course has no pre-requisites.

Course content

This course will introduce students to the application of social science literatures to concrete policy issues. The course will be organised around topics which are both being actively discussed in the policy world and researched in the academic world. The emphasis will be on illustrating how different theoretical and disciplinary approaches analyse a particular policy topic and problem. The precise policy topics will be decided each year, depending on academic and practitioner availability, but we would aim to attract speakers at the highest levels either at the cutting edge or research of particular research topic or who are working directly in a topic area.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and interactive seminars and group work, totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos. Online office hours will run every Monday for students who would like to discuss the content of the course or their student projects in more detail. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

The policy project will be coordinated by the lead academic, who will meet with each student individually to discuss and approve (a) the proposed focus of the project, (b) the proposed research method and approach, (c) the identification of relevant existing research and literature, and (d) an outline of the structure of the project. Each student will get personalised feedback on their proposed project.

Indicative reading

This will depend on the topics chosen, and the policy experts that are invited, each year.

A full reading list will be provided at the start of the course.


Coursework (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

There will be a Policy Project of 3,000 words for submission in the Summer Term.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2019/20: 45

Average class size 2019/20: 45

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills