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Critical Policy Research for Health and Medicine (Module)

Module description

This module aims to equip students with conceptual and methodological tools for undertaking research on the policy process in health and medicine. Using an interdisciplinary critical approach that builds on political science and sociology, and extends into anthropology, science & technology studies, bioethics, and history, students will learn to study policy and policy making critically and with an array of methodological skills. The module will touch on issues of ethics, politics, social justice, citizenship, privatization, economics, governance, and culture and power. It will enrich students’ understanding of the ways in which policy-development and implementation are socially and politically constructed and how policy considerations can influence bioethical debate, and vice versa. Students will obtain a good understanding of the main traditions in policy studies and they will learn to carry out aspects of policy research in the field of health and medicine themselves. In all, the module will enhance students’ capacity to become independent and reflexive researchers.

Specific Aims:

  1. To introduce students to different ways of studying policy and policy-making from diverse disciplinary perspectives;
  2. To demonstrate the application of core theoretical concepts from diverse disciplines to empirical case studies;
  3. To review and apply an array of specific research skills for the interdisciplinary study of policy;
  4. To provide students with an in-depth understanding of how research is used in the policy process, and of the way key actors involved in policy use evidence and arguments to influence policy.


On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and critically discuss key theoretical framings used in the interdisciplinary study of policy;
  2. Discuss the merits and limitations of these different theoretical framings;
  3. Develop a critical understanding of how evidence and arguments are used in policy making;
  4. Offer accounts in class discussion of empirical case-studies of the policy process in health and medicine, with a specific focus on methods and methodology;
  5. Apply methodological skills learned in class to their own research project;
  6. Write a study protocol for a pilot study and final research paper based on a literature review and some empirical


Staff information

Dr Courtney Davis

Teaching pattern

Lectures, practicum, individual research.

Module assessment - more information


Key information

Module code 7SSHM618

Credit level 7

Assessment coursework

Credit value 15

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module No