PH458      Half Unit
Evidence and Policy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Liam Kofi Bright


This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course will explore how scientific reasoning does and should inform policy making in a democracy. In the first part of the course we will examine how it is that ethical or political preferences come to influence scientific reasoning in light of its democratic role. In the second part of the course we will explore the sort of evidence policy makers might be especially interested in acquiring and the difficultives involved in producing such.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the AT.

Indicative reading

Christensen, D. (2014). “Disagreement and Public Controversy” in Lackey, J. (ed.) Essays in Collective Epistemology. Oxford University Press.

Douglas, H. (2009). Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Hardwig, J. (1985). Epistemic Dependence. The Journal of Philosophy.

Schenwar, M. & Law, V. (2021). Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms. New Press.

Thoma, J. (2022). Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Public Policy: On the Dangers of Single Metric Accounting. LSE Public Policy Review.


Essay (100%, 2000 words) in January.

Part of the assessment of the final essay will be discussing how they have responded to feedback on the formative.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 47
Merit 48.7
Pass 4.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2022/23: 30

Average class size 2022/23: 11

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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