Title : British Public Policy M13045 (20 credits) Level 3 Taught Autumn Semester Module Convenor

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Title : British Public Policy
M13045 (20 credits)
Level 3
Taught Autumn Semester
Module Convenor: Dr Andrew Denham
Contact details: Room C7

Law and Social Sciences Building

Tel: ext 14861

Email: andrew.denham@nottingham.ac.uk

Office hours: Thursday 10-11; Friday 11-12


Summary of Content: 3

Educational Aims: 3

Learning Outcomes: 3

Module Evaluation: 3

Seminar Titles: 4

Week 1 Introductions and Module Organisation [1st Oct] 4

Week 2 Understanding 'Governance' [8th Oct] 4

Week 3 Modernity, Post-Modernity and the British State [15th Oct] 4

Week 4 Revisiting the Post-War 'Consensus (and its critics) [22nd Oct] 4

Week 5 'Rolling back the State': The Conservatives 1979-97 [29th Oct] 4

Week 6 'Globalization' and the British State [5th Nov] 4

Week 7 A 'Europeanization' of Policy? [12th Nov] 4

Week 8 Pressure Groups and New Social Movements [19th Nov] 4

Week 9 Ministers and Civil Servants [26th Nov] 4

Week 10 'New' Labour and the State [3rd Dec] 4

Week 11 CONFERENCE: Governance and Public Policy in the UK [10th Dec] 4

Method and Frequency of Class: 4

Method of Assessment: 4

Reading Information: 5

Coursework Support: 9

Guidance to Essay Writing: 10

Assessed Essay Titles: 10

Example of Past Exam Paper: 10

Summary of Content:

The aim of this module is to analyse and explain the changing nature of policy-making in contemporary Britain, with particular emphasis on the period since 1979. Specifically, the module examines the impact of new forms of 'governance' on the policy-making process and the changing roles and responsibilities of the British state. Taking the alleged shift from an era of 'government' to one of 'governance', and thence to an era of ‘joined up government’ as its central theme, the module interrogates key controversies in contemporary British political science. Examples here include the impact of 'governance', of New Right ideology, of Europeanization and of globalization on British public policy in recent years. The module also assesses the role(s) of pressure groups and ‘new social movements’ in the policy process and changing relations within the ‘core executive’ (notably, between ministers and civil servants) in recent years. Finally, the module seeks to explain and assess 'New' Labour's attempts to ‘reform’ and ‘modernise’ the British state (notably via devolved governance) and the policy process in Westminster and Whitehall (via parliamentary ‘reform’ and ‘joined up government') since 1997.

Educational Aims:

By the end of the module, students should have acquired the following.

  • Enhanced knowledge and understanding of the contemporary challenges (domestic, European and global) to the modern and contemporary British state;

  • Enhanced knowledge and understanding of contemporary debates among political scientists about the character of modern 'governance' in the British context, including the contemporary relevance (or otherwise) of the dominant assumptions underpinning the ‘Westminster model’;

  • An ability to analyse and evaluate a range of theories and concepts that purport to explain significant changes in British public policy-making in recent years.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module, students should have acquired the following key and transferable skills.

  • An ability to read critically and apply in practice primary and secondary source-materials;

  • Enhanced oral and presentational skills;

  • Enhanced data retrieval and time-management skills.

Module Evaluation:

Evaluation and feedback are crucial to the success of any module. The School wants students to have their say on Politics modules. Therefore modules are formally evaluated on a biennial basis, so please use this opportunity to have your say. If you have any other comments or queries regarding this module, please contact the Module Convenor.

Seminar Titles:

The weekly seminar titles are as follows:

Week 1 Introductions and Module Organisation [1st Oct]

Week 2 Understanding 'Governance' [8th Oct]

Week 3 Modernity, Post-Modernity and the British State [15th Oct]

Week 4 Revisiting the Post-War 'Consensus (and its critics) [22nd Oct]

Week 5 'Rolling back the State': The Conservatives 1979-97 [29th Oct]

Week 6 'Globalization' and the British State [5th Nov]

Week 7 A 'Europeanization' of Policy? [12th Nov]

Week 8 Pressure Groups and New Social Movements [19th Nov]

Week 9 Ministers and Civil Servants [26th Nov]

Week 10 'New' Labour and the State [3rd Dec]

Week 11 CONFERENCE: Governance and Public Policy in the UK [10th Dec]

Method and Frequency of Class:


Number of Sessions

Duration of a Session


10 (1 per week)

2 hours

Location of Seminar: C27, Portland

Day: Friday

Time: 9am-11am

Method of Assessment:

This 20 credit module will be assessed on the following basis:

Assessment Type





3 hours

Reading Information:

Essential reading:

You are strongly advised to purchase and/or have continuous access for the duration of the module to the following texts:
** D. Richards and M.J. Smith, Governance and Public Policy in the United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2002.
** P. Dorey, Policy Making in Britain: An Introduction, Sage, 2005
Multiple copies of both titles are available in Short Loan, and from Blackwells University bookshop and other suppliers (e.g. www.amazon.co.uk).
Supplementary reading:

In addition, the following texts provide more detailed information about developments in a range of specific policy areas (economic policy, environmental policy, education policy, health policy, policing and criminal justice policy, etc.) in recent years. The starred items (*) are the most up-to-date and are strongly recommended as supplementary reading for this module.

P. Cloke (ed), Policy and Change in Thatcher’s Britain, 1992.
D. Coates and P. Lawler (eds), New Labour in Power, 2000.
* P. Dorey (ed), Developments in British Public Policy, 2005.
* P. Dunleavy et al., (eds), Developments in British Politics 8, 2006.
S. Ludlam and M.J. Smith (eds), New Labour in Government, 2001.
S. Ludlam and M.J. Smith (eds), Governing as New Labour, 2003.
D. Marsh and R.A.W. Rhodes (eds), Implementing Thatcherite Policies, 1992.
S. Savage et al., (eds), Public Policy in Britain, 1994.
S. Savage and R. Atkinson (eds), Public Policy under Blair, 2001.
A. Seldon (ed), The Blair Effect, 2001.
* A. Seldon and D. Kavanagh (eds), The Blair Effect 2001-5, 2005.
* A. Seldon (ed), Blair’s Britain, 2007.
It is essential that all students read at least the appropriate chapter or chapters in Richards and Smith (2002) and/or Dorey (2005) for each seminar, plus selected chapters from the list of edited works cited above. In addition, students are strongly encouraged to consult the following works for further information, and for the purposes of undertaking revision for the final examination, to be taken at the end of the semester.

Week 2: Understanding Governance
*M. Bevir, Democratic Governance, 2010 (e-book; on order)
P. Cerny, The Changing Architecture of Politics, 1990.
G. Davis and M. Keating (eds), The Future of Governance, 2000.
C. Fox and H. Miller, Postmodern Public Administration, 1993.

  1. Foster and F. Plowden, The State under Stress, 1996.

J. Kooiman, Governing as Governance, 2003.

D. Osborne and T. Gaebler, Reinventing Government, 1993.
J. Pierre and B.G. Peters, Governance, Politics and the State, 2000.
R.A.W. Rhodes, Understanding Governance, 1997.
M. Rose, The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial, 1991.

Week 3: The Modern British State
M. Flinders, ‘Governance in Whitehall’, Public Administration, 80(1), 2002.
M. Flinders, ‘Shifting the Balance: Parliament, the Executive and the British Constitution’, Political Studies, 50(1), 2002.
W.H. Greenleaf, The British Political Tradition, Vol. 1, 1983.
P. Harling, The Modern British State, 2001.

  1. Hay, Restating Social and Political Change, 1996.

D. Marsh et al., Changing Patterns of Governance, 2001.

D. McEachern, The Expanding State, 1990.
G. Peele, ‘The Growth of the State’ in I. Holliday et al., (eds), Fundamentals in British

Politics, 1999.

Week 4: The ‘Post-War Consensus’ (and its critics)
P. Addison, The Road to 1945, 1975.
P. Dorey, British Politics since 1945, 1995.

  1. Heffernan, ‘The ‘Possible’ as the ‘Art’ of Politics: Understanding Consensus Politics’, Political Studies, 50(4), 2002.

K. Hickson, ‘The Postwar Consensus Revisited’, Political Quarterly, 75(2), 2004.

D. Kavanagh and P. Morris, Consensus Politics from Attlee to Thatcher, 1989.
P. Kerr, 'The Postwar Consensus: A Woozle that Wasn't', in D. Marsh et al., Postwar

British Politics in Perspective, 1999.

Week 5: ‘Rolling back the State?’ The Conservatives 1979-97

  1. Kavanagh, The Reordering of British Politics, 1997.

A. Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State, 2nd edition, 1994.

C. Hay, Restating Social and Political Change, 1996.
R. Heffernan, New Labour and Thatcherism, 2000.
G. Jordan and N. Ashford (eds), Public Policy and the Impact of the New Right, 1993.
S. Ludlam and M.J. Smith (eds), Contemporary British Conservatism, 1996.

Week 6: ‘Globalization’
J. Baylis & S. Smith (eds), The Globalization of World Politics, 2000.
D. Held et al., Global Transformations, 1999.
C. Hay, The Political Economy of New Labour, 1999.
P. Hirst and G. Thompson, Globalisation in Question, 1996.
J. Krieger, British Politics in the Global Age, 1999.
J. Scholte, Globalization: A Critical Introduction, 2000.
L. Sklair, Globalization, 2000.

Week 7: ‘Europeanization’
I. Bache and A. Jordan, The Europeanization of British Politics, 2006.

  1. Bulmer and M. Burch, ‘The Europeanization of UK Government: From Quiet Revolution to Explicit Step-Change?’, Public Administration, 83(4), 2005.

A. Jordan, ‘National Environmental Ministries: Managers or Cyphers of European Union

Environmental Policy’, Public Administration, 79(3), 2001.
A. Jordan, The Europeanization of Environmental Policy, 2002.
H. Wallace et al (eds), Policy-Making in the European Union, 4th Edition, 2005.

Week 8: Pressure Groups and ‘New Social Movements’
P. Byrne, Social Movements in Britain, 1997.

  1. Coxall, Pressure Groups in British Politics, 2001.

W. Grant, Pressure Groups and British Politics, 2000.

*W. Grant, ‘The Changing Patterns of Group Politics in Britain’, British Politics 3(2),

A. Lent, British Social Movements since 1945, 2001.

D. Marsh and R.A.W. Rhodes, Policy Networks in British Government, 1992.
M.J. Smith, Pressure, Power and Policy, 1993

Week 9: Ministers and Civil Servants

  1. Driscoll and J. Morris, ‘Stepping Out: Rhetorical Devices and Culture Change Management in the UK Civil Service’, Public Administration, 79(4), 2001.

C. Foster and F. Plowden (eds), The State under Stress, 1996.

J. Mackintosh, British Cabinet Government, 1977.

  1. Marsh et al., Changing Patterns of Governance, 2001.

P. Norton, ‘Barons in a Shrinking Kingdom’, in R.A.W. Rhodes (ed), Transforming British Government, Vol. 2, Changing Roles and Relationships, 2000.

R.A.W. Rhodes, Understanding Governance, 1997.
D. Richards, The Civil Service under the Conservatives 1979-97, 1997.
D. Richards, New Labour and the Civil Service, 2007.
M.J. Smith, The Core Executive in Britain, 1999.

Week 10: ‘New’ Labour
*P. Cairney, ‘Has Devolution Changed the “British Policy Style”?’, British Politics 3(3),

*P. Dorey, ‘Stumbling Through ‘Stage Two’: ‘New’ Labour and House of Lords Reform,

British Politics 3(1), 2008.

  1. Ling, ‘Delivering Joined-Up Government in the UK: Dimensions, Issues and Problems’, Public Administration, 80(4), 2002.

    *D. Marsh and M. Hall, ‘The British Political Tradition: Explaining the Fate of New Labour’s Constitutional Reform Agenda’, British Politics 2(2), 2007.

    G. Stoker, ‘Life is a Lottery: New Labour’s Strategy for the Reform of Devolved Governance’, Public Administration, 80(3), 2002.

    V. Bogdanor (ed), Joined Up Government, 2005 (Short Loan).

For additional material, students are also strongly advised to consult the current and most recent issues of the following (quarterly) journals:

British Politics (www.palgrave-journals.com/bp/index.html)

Parliamentary Affairs (http://pa.oxfordjournals.org)

The Political Quarterly (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/POQU)

Public Administration (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/PADM)

Coursework Support:

There is no coursework for this module.

As Module Convenor please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any difficulties with the module or assessed work. I will be available without appointment during my office hours. Appointments to meet at other times can be made by calling me on my direct line or via email. My contact details together with office hours are noted at the front of this module outline.

Guidance to Essay Writing:

There is no coursework for this module.

Assessed Essay Titles:

There is no coursework for this module.

Example of Past Exam Paper:

Past exam papers for this module are available electronically via the Information Gateway of the Hallward Library, as follows.

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2003/M13045E1-03.pdf (2003)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2004/M13045E1-04.pdf (2004)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2005/M13045E1-05.pdf (2005)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2006/M13045E1-06.pdf (2006)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2007/M13045E1-07.pdf (2007)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2008/M13045E1-07.pdf (2008)
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/is/gateway/exampapers/local/papers/M1/2009/M13045E1-07.pdf (2009)

Centre for British Politics Annual Conference: School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham, Friday 10th December 2010
Governance and Public Policy in the United Kingdom’
Panel 1:
Institutions and Institutional Reform

Ben Seyd (University of Kent), “Analysing Institutional Reform in Britain”

Over the last ten years, Britain has undergone radical reform of its political system, encompassing the territorial organisation of power; the method of electing representatives; the nature of the legislature; the role of the judiciary; the status and operation of political parties; the scrutiny and oversight of the executive, and the allocation of policy competences between elected and unelected actors.  For political analysts, two questions arise from these changes: what caused the reforms, and what are their effects?  This paper focuses on the latter.  A light industry of research and analysis has been devoted to the British reforms.  However, much of this work is descriptive or only lightly analytical; little attention has been paid in theoretical terms to the way the new institutions will work and their implications for policy decisions.  Yet there is an established literature, based on abstract or rational choice models of politics, devoted to the role and effects of political institutions.  The paper draws on this literature to provide an explanation of the actual and potential consequences of institutional reform.

Tim Heppell (University of Leeds), “Departmental Restructuring under New Labour”

An emphasis on policy delivery and advocacy of joined up government were defining features of the New Labour governing project. Attempts to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of policy delivery resulted in a major departmental restructuring in each of their three terms in office. This paper asks three questions with regard to the New Labour project and departmental restructuring. First, from a historical perspective, was there a greater degree of departmental restructuring under New Labour than under previous governments? Second, in the case of New Labour, what was the rationale and justification for departmental restructuring? Finally, what are the criteria for evaluating successful processes of departmental restructuring and, once defined, can we identify any examples of success? Based on interviews with former New Labour ministers, this paper seeks to address these questions and determine the impact of departmental restructuring on policy delivery. 

Panel 2:
Governance, Public Policy and the British State

David Richards and Martin Smith (University of Sheffield), “The British State: Analysing the Changing Nature of Governance in a Post Bureaucratic Era”

This paper will explore the changing nature of UK governance throughout the last two decades, focusing in particular on the legacies of both the Blair and Brown administrations and assessing the potential impact of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.  The core theme of the paper concerns the impact of change on the delivery of public goods in an era of austerity framed within the context of debates on the relationship between states, networks and markets.  In particular, it will focus on analysing  the changing role in the relationship between the state and the third and private sectors by considering the current coalition’s narrative of the need to establish a new post-bureaucratic state settlement based on the notion of a 'small state and a big society'.  It asks the question of how the notion of devolved power fits within the UK tradition of governance framed within a discussion on the contrasting narratives presented by the 'differentiated polity model' and the 'asymmetric power model'.

Jonathan Grix and Kevin Morrell (University of Birmingham), “Towards a Morphology of Public Sector Services”
A central proposition in orthodox theories of governance is that there has been a shift from government to governance. Indeed, this is sometimes how ‘governance’ is understood. A challenge facing a general proposition such as this is that it is unbounded. Here we argue that the range and scope of this proposition needs to be qualified and empirically tested. Once we accept the premise that not all sectors will have made this shift in the same way, over the same time period, and to the same extent, we can develop a number of more nuanced theoretical propositions to frame future research. To do this we propose and develop a morphology of public sector services. Morphologies attempt to group and relate objects that are similar to one another into a general class or set. This offers scope to examine in greater detail the central proposition underpinning orthodox governance theory.

Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton), “Can Political Science Save Politics?”
Politicians and citizens have a role in promoting a political system that we have faith in and that has a demonstrable capacity to deliver legitimate and effective collective decision-making. But what, if anything, does political science have to offer? This paper will address three main questions. First, should political science have anything to say on these issues? Second, what are the obstacles facing political science in terms of the relevance of its findings? Finally, has political science anything of value to say about how to make politics better?

Panel 3:
Beyond Westminster and Whitehall
Rosanne Palmer (University of Cardiff), “Closer to the Citizen? The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Governance of the EU”

The need for the EU to become closer to its citizens is frequently stressed at both EU and sub-state levels. This paper will explore the extent to which sub-state parliaments (in this instance, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales) can achieve this aim, through the Protocol on Subsidiarity and other mechanisms. 

Jonathan Rose (University of Nottingham), “Devolution and Political Trust – The Case of Scotland”

Political trust has seemingly been in decline across western liberal democracies since the 1960s. Whilst the trend is fairly consistent, on the individual level the distribution of political trust varies significantly. Following extant research in the USA, one putative cause of this variation is whether the individual supported the winning candidate at the last election. Yet within the UK we still know relatively little about the individual effect of ‘winning’ at the constituency level. Moreover, we know virtually nothing about how this effect plays out in the devolved context where a constituency may have a politically different (in terms of party) national representative to their devolved administration representative. Thus we do not yet know if SNP supporters are more politically trusting now than they were before the SNP became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament. As such, an important aspect of devolution – the extent to which it can increase citizens’ positive political perceptions – has been left under-analysed. This paper will explore this issue through a quantitative analysis of individual level data by constituency.

Panel 4: Case Studies
Mark Goodwin (University of Birmingham), “Education Policy since 1997: Can the New Labour Education Project Survive the ‘Big Society’?
New Labour’s education strategy aimed to increase the managerial effectiveness of the core executive by strengthening the Prime Minister’s Office and reducing the autonomy of bodies which held significant discretionary power under the classic Westminster Model. I argue that New Labour’s education strategy represented a broader governing project ‘writ small’. I then discuss the Conservative attempt to move away from this governing model in opposition and in power and consider the prospects and problems for them in developing a distinctive education strategy.
Chris Wood (University of Nottingham), “Making Society Stronger: Social Capital and Public Policy under New Labour”


I investigate the extent to which social policy and ideology in the UK has drawn on concepts and ideas associated with the social capital theory of Robert Putnam. The model indicates that shared trust, norms and social networks lead to community cohesion, more active citizens and a wide range of other benefits in political, economic and social spheres. Social capital theory was adopted through academics, think-tanks and policymakers into ‘Third Way’ ideology in two ways. Firstly, it encouraged the creation of local partnerships between community, voluntary, public and private organisations to rebuild civil society and tackle problems of ‘social exclusion’. Secondly, it promoted a model of citizenship promoting active and responsible participation in society. Diverse areas of policy in the UK have utilised aspects of these ideas, such as Neighbourhood Renewal, Social Exclusion, Citizenship Education, and New Deal in welfare provision. I will also look at more recent moves, including the ‘Big society’ agenda, to see the transformation and lasting effects of these ideas.

Martin Smith and Adam White (University of Sheffield), “The Myth of De-politicisation: The Case of Domestic Security”
This paper will advance a critique of the de-politicisation thesis through an examination of British domestic security policy. During the 1980s and 1990s, domestic security provision was increasingly contracted out to the private sector, theoretically removing this public service from the traditional political sphere. Far from de-politicising the service, however, this development prompted the question: which actors ought to control the delivery of security provision, public or private? This was a question which had not been part of public debate since the immediate decades following the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 and as such served to re-politicise the policy area rather than to de-politicise it. The eventual outcome of this debate was the regulation of the security industry in 2001, which brought the service back within the realm of the traditional political sphere. The example of domestic security policy thus provides an excellent counter-argument to the de-politicisation thesis and demonstrates the need to disaggregate between policy areas when examining the de-politicisation narrative.

Tim Bale and James Hampshire (University of Sussex), “Closing the ‘Open Door’? Conservative Policy on Immigration and Asylum”
This paper examines the development of the Conservative Party's immigration and asylum policy since 2005. What – if anything – changed; by how much and why? Finally, how substantial are any alterations to UK immigration and asylum policy likely to be under the present Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government?

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