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Module SXP-4028:
Policy Research & Evaluation

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Overall aims and purpose

Monitoring and evaluation of policy initiatives has become increasingly important. This module aims to meet the needs of the public service sector in Wales and further afield by developing in individuals a full complement of skills required to successfully undertake specialist research and robust evaluation that will inform future policy. Evidence based policy and practice are imperatives of the public, independent and voluntary sector organisations nationally and internationally.

Evaluation research is one of the cornerstones of evidence based practice both locally and nationally and is important right across local government and public and independent sector organisations. This module will provide key skills to enable individuals to understand, conduct or commission evaluative work at a time when it is increasingly important for organisations to consider the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of the services they provide.

Course content

• Basic Concepts and Definitions • The need for monitoring and evaluation • Differences and relationship between monitoring and evaluation • Building evaluation into programme planning and implementation • Approaches and evaluation models • Evaluation methods and tools • Outcome versus process • Working with planners, practitioners and users • Internal and external evaluation • Planning and protocol development • Costing an evaluation • Carrying out evaluation research in your own organization • Maintaining independence • Dissemination and change management

Assessment Criteria


To pass the module, students must demonstrate a theoretically informed understanding of the evaluation of policy development and implementation and some ability to relate this to substantive research, and basic competence in applying the methods used in policy evaluation research.


Good students will be able to demonstrate a clear, theoretically informed understanding of the evaluation of policy development and implementation and good ability to relate this to substantive research, and sound competence in applying the methods used in policy evaluation research.


Excellent students will be able to demonstrate a mature, theoretically informed understanding of the evaluation of policy development and implementation and some ability to relate this critically to substantive research, and a high level of competence in applying the methods used in policy evaluation research.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of a number of dynamics particular to social policy research, including the priorities of funding bodies, the role of the researcher/practitioner, collaboration with use groups and other key stakeholders, shaping policy outcomes and evaluating policy implementation and dissemination of strategies and outputs. Policy evaluation will be demonstrated by an understanding of the major models of policy evaluation and by engaging in the evaluation of a service alongside practitioners, users and other key stakeholders to identify key issues.

  2. Problem solve and reason scientifically, including decision making in complex contexts using appropriate qualitative and quantitative skills, including identifying, formulating and solving social problems. It will also include the ability to create, evaluate and assess a range of options, and apply ideas and knowledge to a range of situations

  3. Utilise critical evaluative skills in interpreting research and writing of others, and the critical evaluation of arguments and evidence.

  4. Demonstrate advanced, specialised knowledge and skills across the field of policy research and evaluation.

  5. Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary key issues in social policy and provide a theoretical insight into core social policy issues. Areas covered include discrimination and oppression, social change, evaluating policy outcomes.

  6. Utilise the main varieties of both quantitative and qualitative research in the social sciences, including: principles of research design and strategy, formulating researchable problems, competence in applying research methods and tools, managing data, conducting and disseminating research consistent with professional practice and research ethics.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Individual Presentation 40
Essay 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy


The seminars will provide opportunities to discuss specific issues. You will be expected to prepare reading for the seminar.


Lectures will cover relevant topics and be interactive. There will be small group activities and group discussions.


We will meet in small groups to discuss your assignment planning. This will provide you with the opportunity to ask questions.

Private study

This self-guided study time is for reading, preparation for seminars and lectures and assignment preparation.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Critically evaluate the mixed economy of welfare and the interrelationships between health and social care and between the agencies, practitioners and individuals involved in their provision;
  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • Appreciate a range of research designs and strategies and how they may be applied to sociological investigations.
  • Competence to carry out a piece of sociological research using either primary or secondary data, or both.
  • Be able to recognize how social data and sociological knowledge apply to questions of public policy.
  • Undertake either on their own, or in collaboration with others, investigations of social questions, issues and problems, using statistical and other data derived from research publications.
  • The ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems; and the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.
  • Appreciate the value of and apply theoretical and methodological rigour to analyses of welfare issues;
  • Be aware of the ethical, social and political contexts within which social policy practice and research is conducted and delivered
  • Develop a knowledge and expertise with respect to a range of evidence-based policy making and practice.
  • Develop a sophisticated understanding of the processes of social policy analysis and evaluation.


Courses including this module

Optional in courses: