SPOL41110 Ideas, Ideology in Public Pol.

Academic Year 2023/2024

What does it mean when politicians and the media describe policy decisions as being ‘ideological’ rather than evidence-based? Is evidence always objective? Is it possible to ever be ‘non-ideological’? What are the implications for how we understand public policy? This module addresses these questions through engaging with the role of ideas and ideology in public policy. It does this by taking tools developed as part of the ideational and argumentative turns, which prioritise language, ideas, deliberation and interpretation.

This approach maintains that ideologies – systems of ideas and beliefs the guide decisions and practice in the political and social worlds – can significantly influence the processes of designing, promoting and implementing public policies. It argues that despite the importance and explanatory power of EBP, utility-maximising approaches, or rational-actor theory, these approaches do not tell the whole story. We also need to understand political and policymaking processes as being enabled and constrained through language and competing interpretations of problems and solutions. This includes considering and sometimes questioning the bases upon which the development, implementation and evaluation of policies take place.
The module achieves this through a two-strand approach:

1. Understanding the role of ideas and ideology throughout the six stages of the policy cycle, using real-world examples where appropriate.
2. Considering the ways in which we can analyse public policy using tools associated with the ideational and argumentative turns.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

• Be able to identify a range of ideologies, their assumptions and their implications for the policy making process.
• Understand the influence of the ideational and argumentative turns on policy
• Utilise diverse methods of policy analysis that prioritise language and ideas
• Apply theoretical discussions to real-world cases

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Interactive lectures, workshops and peer-to-peer learning will be employed on the module, as well as student-directed learning outside of class. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Students are asked to provide a proposed essay title and outline plan Week 8 n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Continuous Assessment: Students are required to contribute to class discussion via presenting their assessment/opinion/questions about the set readings. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: End of semester essay on topic to be agreed with module co-ordinator Week 12 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.