Public Policy and Management in Combined Honours - information for current students

Key benefits

  • Outstanding reputation for Public Sector Management research (grade 5)
  • Aston is distinctive in offering a placement year in the public or private sectors
  • Develop knowledge and skills that are appropriate to a wide range of careers in both the public and private sectors
  • A good grounding in many areas, including public policy, management, politics and sociology.
  • Aston's has a £4 million Local Area Network and other extensive IT facilities.
  • The opportunity to develop professional skills by spending a year in paid employment with a public or sector organisation. It is strongly recommended that students choose a sandwich programme including a placement.

The government and public services are critical features of everyday life.  At the present time there are a number of challenges facing the public sector, including the need to restructure but at the same time provide continuing support to citizens and the economy.  There are also many other challenges facing society, such as climate change and the recession, which require action by governments.  Consequently this is a very exciting time in which to study public policy and the management of public services.  This degree programme engages these issues by examining the development, implementation and management of public policy and public services. Modules place a strong emphasis on studying the context in which public policy/management occurs, such as the politics and management of environmental policy. The programme is also geared towards many management theories and techniques that are of relevance to your future career in either the public or private sectors.

Subject guide & modules

First year core modules:

  • The State and Economy: The modules focus upon policy processes in the UK, but reference is made to other countries where useful comparison can be made.

  • Government and Governance: The primary purpose of this module is to familiarise students with the governing? institutions of the UK, this will include the importance of EU policy-making processes.

  • Issues in Welfare: In this module we are seeking to analyse the theoretical and ideological basis of welfare and public services provision and reform.  The question of how to reform welfare and public services so that they better reflect the altered economic and social context of advanced industrialised countries has been a question that has been exercising policy makers for at least the last four decades

 Second year core modules:

  • The Making of Environmental Policy: In this module we examine the theory and the practice of environmental policy. The approach is multi-disciplinary drawing on politics, economics, sociology, management and international relations. 

  • Risk, Regulation and the Financial Crisis:

  • Government Expenditure and Financial Management: To develop students understanding and evaluative skills in critically engaging how governments manage public expenditure in a range of important policy arenas, utilising a cross national approach with particular emphasis on other European countries.

  • Comparing Public Policies across Nations:

Placement Year (Optional)

There is an opportunity to set your studies into context by participating in the activities of public, private sector firms or non-profit organisations. This is usually paid employment. As many students as possible are encouraged to undertake a placement as it is a definite advantage in gaining a job after graduation.

Final Year

  • The Governance of Economic Development Policy: The lecture programme provides an introduction to economic development, in terms of the central issues that have driven its growth over the past twenty years and the management problems that economic development practitioners face in meeting the expectations of multiple stakeholders.

  • Globalisation, multinational corporations and power: Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores notions of globalisation with particular emphasis on multinational corporations as powerful global actors able to direct the process of globalisation towards their own ends

  • Health Matters: Understanding Patterns and Policies: This module aims show how although rooted in biological issues health and illness are not reducible to them. It will begin by introducing key theories and empirical evidence to demonstrate a range of issues such as the relationship between social inequalities and health and the social construction of medical power

Learning, teaching & assessment

You will be involved in lectures and seminars, small-group work, project work and independent study. There are opportunities for group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in final year.You will be allocated a personal tutor who can provide you with help and advice. Assessment is through a combination of exams, coursework, essays, presentations and an extended dissertation during your final year.

Placement year

By taking a four year sandwich programme you will have the opportunity to undertake a year’s professional experience in the private or public sector in your third year of study. You will gain invaluable experience which will set you apart from other graduates and you are normally able to earn a salary.   You will be given support and advice on finding a placement. Many employers return each year to employ our placement students.

Career prospects

Public Sector - more than 40% of the UK workforce is employed in public services organisations and there remain many exciting career opportunities open to public policy graduates, including managerial posts in the civil service, local government and the NHS. 

Private sector - our programme also has the advantage of developing management skills and an understanding of public services which is ideal for private sector employment.  Many public services are delivered by private sector providers.  It will be a significant advantage to have a thorough understanding of the requirements and challenges of public service.

Personal development

This course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills.  Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished e-learning language centre. The Placement Year will develop your initiative, confidence and independence, as well as giving you invaluable professional experience.  In your final year you complete an individual research dissertation which improves your independent research skills and report writing skills. All students are encouraged to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP.)

Facilities & equipment

The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated e-learning centre for the exclusive use of its students.  The e-learning centre is supported by a dedicated team and has all of the standard software that you will need (e.g. Microsoft Office etc). Extensive use is also made of our Virtual Learning Environment to help support your studies. Our newly refurbished “Cadbury Room” contains social seating areas, study stations and meeting tables as well as networked printing facilities and wireless internet access.

Further information

Tel: 0121 204 4283; Email: ids@aston.ac.uk

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