Postgraduate Module Descriptor

POLM160: Yes Special Adviser. Political Advisers and Policy Making in a Global Perspective

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to teach you how to think about political advisers, but also how to be a competent entry level political adviser yourself. You will be introduced to the full conceptual and methodological knowledge and skills so as to critically engage with both scholarly research on the topic, as well as the practice of political advisers across countries and administrative traditions:

a) Anglo-American (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, USA);

b) Napoleonic (Belgium, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal);

c) European continental and Nordic (Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands);

d) Supranational institutions (European Commission; European Parliament etc).

The module asks the following fundamental questions. Why did political advisers emerge as important third actors between politics and administration? Who are they, why are they appointed, what do they do and how do they influence the outcomes of public policy? Are they sources of greater political responsiveness, or are they unaccountable and incompetent dark princes? Do they bring added value to the technical expertise of civil servants, or do they enforce a dangerous retreat from civil service neutrality? Are they useful coordinators within complex policy advisory systems, or sources of constant friction at the top? Moreover, is there convergence, or divergence in the use and roles of political advisers across systems and why? In order to answer these questions you will learn to draw systematic inferences by using comparative research methods. You will also engage with hands-on practical adviser work within limited time frames. By the end of the module, you will be aware of the professional environment, skills and ethical values pertaining to the job of political adviser.    

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the concepts and theories on political advisers and their policy making roles.
2. Apply the comparative method in order to explain and critically appraise the role of political advisers in policy making across countries over time.
Discipline-Specific Skills3. Find, use and critically analyse a range of material, including empirical and theoretical studies published in scientific journals, books and conference papers; policy reports and guidelines published by governments, administrations and international organisations; news and internet items.
4. Critically analyse both empirical and theoretical material by applying theoretical arguments to empirical case studies.
Personal and Key Skills5. Communicate ideas effectively both formally during presentations and informally during class discussions.
6. Communicate ideas effectively in a given number of words in written form.
7. Work independently and in groups under tight time constraints.