Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3195: The Politics of Regulation: Risks and Regulatory Failures

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Madalina Busuioc (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


Regulation is a tricky business. It is a field characterised by complexity, uncertainties, conflicting goals and a multiplicity of vested interests. Unintended consequences and negative side effects of today’s regulatory choices can become the sources of the next crisis. The recent financial crisis has further underscored the fundamental importance of regulation to social and economic life and the high stakes of regulatory success and failure.

The course will critically examine, in a comparative fashion, the politics surrounding the adoption, implementation and enforcement of regulatory policy as well as the limits of regulation in anticipating and managing risks. It will look at the specificities and challenges involved in regulating specific areas as varied as food safety, internet (security), financial markets or utilities. It will also cover overarching key themes such as: theories of regulation; tools and techniques of regulation; regulatory failure and side-effects; risk regulation and crisis management; regulatory enforcement and oversight. For instance, we will specifically discuss the various ways in which risk is governed and regulated in modern societies and the complexities and challenges inherent to various approaches to risk regulation. We will address questions such as: Why are there different perceptions of (the severity of) risks? And given these varied public perceptions, how should regulators assess, prioritise and regulate risks? What should the role of ‘experts’ be in terms of decisions on how to regulate risks? What about that of public opinion?

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