Faculty of Arts


Public Policy: Actors, Processes and Politics


This course is designed to enable development of a conceptual "tool-kit" for the explanation and evaluation of public policy. The questions asked in this course include: Why does policy matter? Who makes policy and how? What impact does globalisation have on the types of policies domestic governments deliver?

The first half of the course examines the role of policy actors such as social movements, businesses, technical experts and government agencies, including the way in which the international economy and domestic political institutions shape policy outcomes, the recognition and diagnosis of policy problems and the rationality of policy decision-making. In the second half, we delve more deeply into a series of important challenges in the following substantive policy areas: health, the environment, employment, families and the economy.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand what public policies are and how they relate to broader issues of politics and power
  • Recognise different policy instruments and the theoretical basis for each
  • Identify how policy actors and processes have evolved, and why this matters
  • Explain the importance of and difference between various policy issue areas
  • Write a policy brief
  • Critically discuss and analyse a range of policy issues
  • Effectively communicate their arguments in written and oral form 


The course material is delivered over a 12 week period. There will be one two-hour lecture each week, as well as a one hour discussion. In the latter you will review topics in further detail, receive assessment guidance and complete the two short quizzes. A detailed breakdown of the weekly lectures and readings is contained in the TALIS reading list. Students are required to attend their tutorials having completed the assigned readings for the week. You should also be prepared to discuss the material with your classmates.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2019

Semester 2


Coordinator(s)  Gay Marie Francisco


POLITICS 222: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage I in Political Studies or Politics and International Relations or Māori Studies or MĀORI 130, or 30 points in Stage I listed in Social Science for Public Health

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