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Master Public Services Policy & Management

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  • Objectives
    The MSc equips students to understand and evaluate policy options for organising and delivering contemporary public services.
  • Entry requirements
    both mid-career managers and recent graduates planning to enter public and voluntary sector/NGO management.
  • Academic Title
    MA Public Services Policy & Management
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - Regular and senior speakers from London-based government departments, public sector bodies, NGOs and policy-making units discuss the implementation and evaluation of public services policy.
    - Develops skills in designing programme evaluations and analysing performance data, taught by programme staff with direct and current experience.
    - Combines in-depth treatment of underlying principles with practical management lessons and the chance to select different public service areas for specific study.

    Comparative and international in focus, the programme is suitable both for career professionals and for recent social science graduates. It is built around taught core modules, which include: Political economy of the public services; Management finance, accounting and audit; Politics, governance and regulation; Human resource management in the public services; Research methods. Optional modules, some offered by other departments, relate to specific public service areas, including: education and training, health, urban regeneration and defence. You may take options from more than one area.

    There is an emphasis on effective service delivery, and on the lessons of the ‘new public management’; by comparison, the MA in Public Policy emphasises the analysis and understanding of the policy process.

    Seminars and master classes are central to the course and focus on current research and policy implementation. They involve senior policy-makers and practitioners including individuals actively involved with current UK government policymaking.

    Programme format and assessment
    Written examinations and coursework for core modules; coursework only in some extra-departmental modules; a 15,000 word dissertation.

    Programme modules for MSc Public Services Policy & Management 

    Dissertation SMM408
    (Core Module)
    The dissertation is designed to give students experience in defining and researching a specific topic in the field of public services policy and management, building on the subject knowledge gained through taught courses and applying the methodological principles gained through the research methods course. The dissertation requires candidates to display a command of both subject matter and research / enquiry techniques; to demonstrate autonomy and self-direction; to communicate complex material and make sound judgements. The mark given will count for 33% percent of the overall programme assessment.

    Human Resource Management in the Public Services (Core Module)
    This course will focus on issues in the management and change of the public sector workforce. The first half will explore the nature and changing structure of the public sector workforce; the growth of workforce flexibility and the challenges for management; industrial relations in the public sector; commitment and the changing psychological contract in the public sector; the health and satisfaction of the public sector workforce; and the relationship between human resource management and public sector performance. The second part will explore change in the management of the public sector workforce. It will cover analytic frameworks for the analysis of change, including diagnosis, change strategies and evaluation of change. It will use a number of cases such as the merger of departments (for example the Prisons and Probationary Services), implementing a new workforce strategy (for example the NHS in Wales) and the management of change in a traditional industrial relations environment (for example the Fire Service).

    Management, Finance, Accounting and Audit in the Public Services (Core Module)
    Explores the nature and role of finance, accounting and audit in the management of public services and develops an analysis of the role of management (with particular emphasis on financial, accounting and audit) in the delivery of public services. Course content: introduction to finance, accounting and audit; managing in the changing context of public services; strategic management and managing change in public services; managing public services through finance; managing public services through management accounting; managing public services through financial accounting; managing public services through audit and inspection; managing public services through performance indicators and targets; managing public private partnerships; the future of management, with particularly emphasis on finance, accounting and audit in the public services.

    Politics, Governance and Regulation in Public Service Management (Core Module)
    The course examines, in a comparative and international context, political, regulatory and governance issues associated with the organisation of the public services, including frameworks for non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations. Course content: The role of the state; different politico-administrative regimes (historical and contemporary international); not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations: their history and development; the theory and practice of regulation; regulation and risk; the politics of public service finance: centralisation, federalism, localism; ethical dilemmas in public service management and delivery; relationships between countries' public service organisations and governance, private sector governance, and political culture.

    Research Methods for the Public Services (Core Module)
    The core aims of the course are to: 1. Outline the principal methodologies and methods used in empirical research on the public services 2. Explain methods of data collection and analysis, and foster the ability to use these in problem-solving 3. Develop familiarity with appropriate data sources 4. Develop a practical understanding and command of the methodology and methods of programme evaluation research 5. Develop the capacity to assess critically the evidence used in support and criticism of policies towards public services 6. Encourage a critical and systematic understanding of the meaning and limitations of evidence-based policy making Course content will include: statistical concepts: frequency, probability; hypothesis testing, statistical significance; regression and correlation analysis; qualitative methods: case studies, comparative designs; evaluation methodology: issues, levels, evidence; the counterfactual and its implementation; cost-benefit analysis and equity; performance standards and programme implementation.

    The Economics, Organisation and Management of the Public Services (Core Module)
    This course builds on insights developed in the course 'Political Economy of the Public Services'. Students will develop a comprehensive understanding, in an international context, of recent important research and policy agendas in the public services, especially those employing the criteria and methods of welfare economics. Leading research on policy implementation and management reform will be evaluated, drawing on work from political science, sociology and psychology as well as economics. Course content includes: hierarchies, markets and quasi-markets; privatisation and outsourcing; regulation, inspection; and audit; technical change, productivity growth and the cost disease of the services; public choice; fiscal policy and fiscal restriction; public goods and externalities; welfare economics: efficiency and equity; cost-benefit analysis.

    The Political Economy of the Public Services: Origins and Context (Core Module)
    This course explores, in international and historical perspective, the definition and meaning of the public services, and the role of the 'public sector' in their delivery. It examines the major economic, political and sociological issues involved in the organisation, production and finance of the public services. Sessions will explore and evaluate the extent to which policy alternatives can be generalised to the public services as a whole, as opposed to being service-specific. Course content includes: definition and meaning of public services and the public sector: an international overview; patterns of public service provision and finance over time; patterns of public service provision and finance by country; concepts of individual choice; principal-agent relationships: contracts and trust; motivation: quasi-markets; professions and professionalism; ownership, corporate governance and stake-holding. Topics will be covered with reference to specific applications: e.g. vouchers, retirement care, broadcasting.

    Education and Training Policy and Programmes
    Course explores policy issues in education and vocational training, especially in advanced economies and the economic, social and political factors that generate and constrain policy making in these areas. The course content will include an in depth examination of policies relating to 'choice' and quasi-markets (including vouchers); testing and accountability; higher education provision and finance; regulation, including regulation of qualifications; workforce development policies; links between skills and economic performance. Sessions will analyse systematically why particular policies and programmes are or are not chosen in practice. Students will develop a critical understanding of the issues involved in the assessment and measurement of knowledge and skills.

    Evidence-based Decision Making in Healthcare
    This course aims to equip you with the skills and knowledge required to identify best evidence for your practice. It focuses on searching for, appraising and synthesising evidence from health care research. You are introduced to a range of electronic databases for accessing evidence and the principles of systematic review. Learning is facilitated through lectures, workshops and a student-directed search for evidence to address a question emerging from your own practice. Issues surrounding research implementation and evidence at the level of the individual practitioner and the health care organisation are addressed. Assessment is by means of a review of literature which answers a focussed question utilising explicit methods.

    Health Services Management
    Precise course content and titles are undergoing validation to commence in 2006. For updates, please visit the Department of Management page on the King's College London or contact the programme administrator.

    Key Issues in Health Policy
    The core aims of this course are to: 1. Foster a critical understanding of the context for key issues in health policy. 2. Develop a systematic understanding of the major economic, political and sociological issues involved in the organisation, production and finance of health care services, both nationally and internationally. 3. Develop a critical awareness of key debates in the funding and provision of health care, such as the role of the state and the private sector. 4. Analyse the roles of professionals and users in the making and implementation of health policy through the use of case studies. 5. Explore issues of measuring and managing performance in health care. 6. Examine, through the use of case studies, the making of health policy and how specific health policies can be evaluated. Course content includes: introduction: what is health policy and why study it?; determinants of health: role of health care, public health etc.; funding health care systems; organising health care; role of the state and the private sector in health policy; role of professionals and users in health care and health policy; globalisation and the role of international organisations in health policy; measuring and managing performance; making health policy; evaluating health policy.

    Management and the UK Weapons Acquisitions Process
    The core aim of the course, taught by the Defence Studies Department, is to provide students with a knowledge and critical understanding of the contemporary weapons acquisition process, and using WAP as a case study, to consolidate the students' understanding of the major themes and theoretical perspectives concerning public purchasing developed in the compulsory courses making up the MSc in Public Services Policy and Management. The course content will cover: themes and issues in defence acquisition: the context; unique characteristics of the weapons acquisition process (WAP); government purchasing; supply-side characteristics: the defence industrial base; markets versus protectionism; risk reduction in the WAP; international co-operation in weapons acquisition; the Levene reforms; 'smart acquisition'; the future of the WAP.

    New Public Management in the UK Defence Sector
    The core aim of the course, taught by the Defence Studies Department, is to provide students with a knowledge and critical understanding of contemporary UK defence management. Using the UK MoD and armed services as a case study, the course consolidates the students' understanding of the major themes and theoretical perspectives developed in the compulsory courses making up the MSc. in Public Services Policy and Management. The course content will cover: overview of UK defence management; drivers for UK defence management reform; evaluating UK defence management reform (1): management science, public choice and principal-agent perspectives; evaluating UK defence management reform (2): military sociology and public administration perspectives; strategic planning in UK defence; internal markets in UK defence: delegated budgets, defence agencies and resource accounting and budgeting; accountability, governance and 'managerialism'; public private partnerships in UK defence; private contractors on the 'front line'; evaluating two decades of 'reform' and 'modernisation' in UK defence.

    Recent Developments in Education Management
    The course, taught by the School of Education and Professional Studies, will focus on theoretical perspectives, research findings and the politics of research. Sessions will cover both problem solving and critical approaches to educational management, educational reform, leadership, educational change, educational markets, managerialism, the 'Third Way', curriculum analysis, development and management. Other issues explored will include: the relationship between policy and practice; between decision making and consultation; power and authority; gender and the micropolitics of educational organisations. Although some case studies will be based on the UK context, the intention is to inform debate on education in different societies and to make students aware of the comparative dimension to the study of educational management. The content of this module is subject to regular review in order to take account of recent developments in the field.

    Teacher Development
    In recent years, the gaze of researchers and policy makers has focused increasingly on teachers and teacher change. In this course, teacher development is considered as an area of knowledge from a range of perspectives including historical, sociological, psychological, political and philosophical. The concepts of ‘teacher’ and ‘development’ are examined separately in parallel to the concept of ‘teacher development’. The roles and representations of teachers (e.g. as ‘professionals’ or as ‘change agents’) are explored in depth. Predominantly quantitative research into teacher knowledge, behaviours and attitudes is compared and contrasted with qualitative research into teachers’ lives and careers. Models of the process of development in professionals: e.g. the reflective practitioner or the competence based model are examined as are more holistic models, e.g. models of social, personal and professional growth. The research into long-term teacher change and its management is examined. The role of appraisal, monitoring and inspection, mentoring and induction are considered in the context of education management. Participants are expected to use their knowledge and experience of their own and their colleagues’ development to interpret and inform their reading and discussions.

    Understanding the Modernised NHS
    This course will enable you to become more familiar with the origins, mechanisms and implications of the current NHS modernisation programme and assess the future policy making process in relation to the NHS and broader public services. Designed as a series of masterclasses with key national figures, the sessions will include directed reading in advance of lectures and facilitated discussions on a given theme in the context of policy and modernisation. Runs on Mondays from September to December. 

    Duration
    One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

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