Module code: PSYM138

Module Overview

Module will introduce the students to the concept of public policy process, the theories and practice of risk governance (risk perception, risk management, risk communication) that are essential in public policy process and the models of behaviour and social change that inform public policy development and agenda setting. By the end of the course students will have an understanding of the range of theoretical approaches to understanding policy processes and agenda setting; the awareness of the dominant frameworks informing current policy development such as risk management and behaviour change; and an awareness of the role of psychological and social sciences in influencing policy and creating impact.

Module provider


Module Leader

TIMOTIJEVIC Lada (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BSc or BA in Psychology or cognate discipline, or equivalent. This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.

Module content

Indicative content includes:
Introduction to policy making: Psychologists are increasingly asked to influence public policy. To do this effectively, it is necessary to develop better understanding of policy processes and the challenges associated with both the development and implementation of policy.
Risk: Increasingly, social problems are defined in terms of risk. We will address why risk is important for policy makering, how policy makers assess and manage risk and what psychology can contribute to the debate and practice of risk governance.
Intervening: Psychology has for many years explicitly focused on intervening to achieve positive change. We will learn how policy makers make decisions about interventions and critically reflect on how we can employ insights from psychological and social theory to address public policy challenges.
Proposal development: Psychologists can influence policy, and one of the direct ways of doing this is through developing interventions for change to achieve a partical policy goal. We will engage in practical work to develop a research proposal to address a policy issue.
Evidence based policy development and Big Data: We will learn how policy makers conceptualise of good evidence, how it is used in defining policy problems and solutions, and discuss why we need to critically reflect about the nature and role of evidence in policy.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Essay on Risk Communication (2,000 words) 50
Coursework Proposal (2,000 words) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate they have met the learning outcomes.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

An essay on risk communication (2,000 words) – written feedback and mark.

A proposal (2,000 words) – written feedback and mark.

The formative assessment consists of:

Small group sessions/presentations – verbal feedback.

Module aims

  • This module aims to provide students with the critical awareness of the role of psychological and social science in policy development. It aims to illustrate the main issues of policy process in practice and demonstrate the role of psycho-social research in influencing policy.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically apply theoretical literature on policy-making to practical example C
002 Critically apply learning from psychological science modules and life experiences to understanding of policy process C
003 Critically evaluate the quantity and quality of evidence in psychology for policy C
004 Demonstrate an awareness of policy processes theories and the way in which psychological research evidence can inform and be used in policy K
005 Employ relevant research skills to analyzing a public policy problem P
006 Able to consider the practical impact of psycho-social research T
007 Awareness of the broader context within which they can apply the psychological knowledge and research skills they have acquired throughout the course T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:
Engage students to critically contribute to the current policy issues.
To apply their knowledge of psychological theories to critically reflect on policy.
To use their research skills to address a policy problems.

The learning and teaching methods include:
Lectures (9x1hour), small group discussions (9x 1hour), workshop (1x2 hours), student presentations (1x2 hours), prescribed reading.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSYM138

Other information


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.