School of Politics, Economics, and International R

School of Politics, Economics, and International Relations

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Politics of Public Policy



The module has four assessed components:

  1. Students will give one individual presentation on a seminar topic, which will be between 5 and 7 minutes in length.  This presentation will count for 10% of the overall module mark, of which 75% will be based on the visual aids used (PowerPoint or handouts) and 25% on the oral presentation itself.  The deadline for the submission of visual aids (on Blackboard) will be 1 hour before the start of the seminar.  Students who cannot give their oral presentation and are granted extenuating circumstances will have the full presentation mark based on the visual aids.
  2. Students will write one essay of 3,000 words (+/- 10%) on one of the seminar topics.  The deadline for submission of the essay on Blackboard will be two weeks after the seminar in which the topic is discussed.  The essay will count for 25% of the overall module mark.
  3. Students will write one case report of 3,000 words (+/- 10%), which will analyse a particular case or set of cases of policy-making in light of the material covered in the module.  The deadline for submission of this report on Blackboard will be the first day of the Spring Term.  The report will count for 25% of the overall module mark.
  4. One two-hour examination in the Summer Term, counting for 40% of the overall module mark.

We will discuss these in further detail during the first half of the first seminar and assign topics for presentations and essays.  Please therefore think about which topics you would like to present or write on in advance of that seminar.


  1. 1.     The Effects of Arena: Domestic v. International Policy Processes

Policymaking increasingly occurs beyond the level of the individual state, whether through international institutions (e.g. WTO, IMF, UN), treaties (e.g. environmental, human rights), or Transnational networks of public and private actors. Yet the two levels are intimately connected: interests and incentives of actors at the national level both shape, and are shaped by, the international level. The European Union represents the most extreme example of international institutionalisation, and of this two-level interplay.  In this seminar we first examine theories about the factors that influence both the demand for and supply of international policy, paying particular attention to interest constellations, formal and informal decisiomaking rules, and bargaining dynamics that involve simultaneous attention to the domestic and international level. in The second half of the seminar we utilise these theories to analyse policymaking in the European Union.

Seminar Aims

The seminar will address the following issues:

  • The demand for and supply of international policy
  • The application of Bargaining and decisionmaking theories to international policymaking
  • Policymaking in the European Union

Discussion and Essay Questions

  • Which factors typically determine whether a state will support or oppose international policy?
  • Do institutions primarily serve the policy interests of the rich and powerful states?
  • Under what conditions would you expect European Union policies to deviate from lowest common denominator outcomes?

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