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Policy, Power and Social Change (Level 5)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Rachael Dobson
  • Assessment: a 2500-3000-word essay (100%)

Module description

Today, society faces a range of social problems and threats, at local, national and global scales. These include the Covid-19 pandemic, global warming and rise of nationalist movements alongside long-standing issues like institutional racism, hate crime, poverty and homelessness. Policy is central to recognising and responding to these problems.

In this module, you are introduced to the people, systems, structures and power dynamics associated with policy making and delivery. Through engagement with real-world experiences and critical and interdisciplinary debates, you will learn about possibilities and barriers to policy change. The module is especially relevant to students interested in the potential of policy to address social and racial justice.

Indicative module syllabus

  • What Is Policy?
  • Analysing Policy: From Mainstream To Critical
  • Policy and the Contemporary State
  • Who Makes Policy? Systems and Actors
  • Where is Policy Made? Bureaucracies and Institutions
  • What Drives Policy? Rationalities and Structures
  • The Social Relations of Policy
  • Power, Agency, Identity and Resistance: Working Across Difference
  • The Everyday State: Space, Place and Scale
  • Emotions, Policy and Change
  • Multiplicity, Policy and Change

Learning objectives

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

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of policy phenomena: actors, institutions, systems and structures
  • understand the barriers and possibilities associated with policy at points of formation and delivery
  • assess where power lies in policy-making processes
  • understand and evaluate policy as spatial, temporal and relational phenomena
  • establish potential for social and racial justice via policy.