In this course students examine the role of evidence, knowledge production and data analysis in public policy. Particular emphasis is placed on equipping students with skills to interpret data, and appraise different quantitative and qualitative techniques for policy analysis, such as cost benefit analysis, statistical analysis, and interpretive analysis. As a starting point students consider what is knowledge and evidence for public policy, and engage in debates on evidence-based policy making. They then explore the use of evidence and analysis in different stages of the policy process from problem identification, option appraisal, political constraint analysis, through to policy evaluation. Through applied exercises students will gain skills in interpreting evidence, analysing quantitative and qualitative data, and crafting persuasive policy arguments based on evidence. Throughout the course students will consider broader themes on the use of knowledge in public policy, including the politics, risks and political economy of knowledge production in a data rich world. Consideration is also given to emerging forms of policy analysis such as data visualisation, behavioural insights, forecasting, and machine learning from big data.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
1. demonstrate a working knowledge of key terms and concepts associated with evidence and policy analysis
2. interpret and analyse different types of policy relevant data
3. appraise the strengths and weaknesses of different quantitative and qualitative approaches to policy analysis
4. contribute to informed discussions on evidence based policy making, the politics and political economy of knowledge production
5. demonstrate the ability to think independently and communicate persuasively by drawing on policy evidence and analysis
Indicative AssessmentData interpretation exercise 20%
Essay on the role of evidence in public policy 40%
Policy Analysis Project 40%
In response to COVID-19, ANU has changed the mode of delivery for all classes in Semester 1 2020 to remote delivery.
Semester 1 Class Summary information (available under the Classes tab) on this publication is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available via Wattle and students should have been advised by the offering College. Find out more information on the University's response to COVID-19 here.
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Workload10 hours per week: 3-4 hours in class and the remainder in individual and group study
Requisite and Incompatibility
Dunn W. 2016. Public Policy Analysis : An introduction. Routledge: London.
Dror, Y. (1964). Muddling through: “science” or inertia? Public Administration Review, 24, 153–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dryzek, J. S. (2006). Policy analysis as critique. In M. Moran, M. Rein, & R. E. Goodin (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of public policy, chapter 9 (pp. 190–203). New York: Oxford University Press.
Head, B. 2008. ‘Three Lenses of Evidence-based Policy’, Australian Journal of Public Administration, 67, 1, 1–11.
Majone, G. 1989. Evidence, Argument, and Persuasion in the Policy Process. New Haven CT, Yale University Press.
Weiss, C. H., E. Murphy-Graham, A. Petrosino andA. G. Gandhi. 2008. ‘The Fairy Godmother—and Her Warts Making the Dream of Evidence-Based Policy Come True’, American Journal of Evaluation, 29, 1, 29–47.
Wildavsky, A. 1979. Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
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