There are two distinct pathways structured around a shared core that enable students to focus on the evaluation of micro level social interventions on the Evidence-Based Intervention pathway or macro level social policies on the Policy Evaluation pathway.
This pathway will examine major theories underlying evidence based interventions and introduce students to a comparative perspective. It will use exemplary intervention research studies to illustrate important theoretical, ethical, methodological and practice issues. Topics will include critical examination of:
- the ethics of intervening and of researching with vulnerable clients;
- the cultural factors in intervention research;
- theoretical approaches to intervention including: ecological, cognitive-behavioural, developmental;
- the application of evidence-based approaches in practice using exemplary research studies (for example, combining quantitative and qualitative methods in large cohort studies to inform mental health practice; community based randomised controlled trials; practitioner evaluation studies);
- the dissemination and transportability of research into policy and practice and across cultures;
- the limitations of evidence-based practice.
The paper is taught in the first two terms through lectures, seminars and tutorials. In each of these terms there will be eight lectures/classes on Social Intervention. These will examine approaches to evidence-based interventions using community, family and individual intervention research studies to illustrate important theoretical, methodological and practice issues. Major themes will include examining the ecological and cultural factors contributing to social problems, transfer of research across cultures and into practice, critical appraisal of intervention research studies. The seminars in term two focus on critical appraisal skills for intervention questions, the transportation of evidence across contexts, and to policy and practice, and related areas.
As part of the first term’s learning and informal assessment, students write two essays for discussion with their supervisor in supervision tutorials as well as prepare class presentations.
In the third term there is a series of sessions on systematic reviewing, designed for students intending to carry out a systematic review for their thesis. This can attended by students on the Policy Evaluation pathway.
This course introduces students to social policy analysis and to advanced methods of policy evaluation. Policy analysis examines the process of policy making, the setting of objectives, the choice and design of policy and the mechanisms of implementation, while the advanced methods component provides students with the methodological tools to determine how effective policies are in practice or prospect. Topics will include examination of:
- links between policy questions and evaluation methods and designs;
- main approaches to the design of policy evaluations and their accompanying logics;
- methodological issues arising in the use of surveys and administrative data for the quantitative (impact) policy evaluation;
- process and diagnostic evaluation;
- management of policy evaluation;
- systematic and critical review methods for published work on policy evaluation.
Students on this pathway join those studying Comparative Social Policy to study Social Policy Analysis in the first term. This course seeks to equip students with the theoretical and analytic tools necessary to engage in formal policy analysis and to provide an experience of applying them to real-world-like problems while receiving constructive feedback. It is taught through a series of eight lectures accompanied by four sessions devoted to illustrative case-studies in the first half of the term, followed by four practical sessions in the second half of the term in which students working in groups present and defend policy analyses of their own.
In the second term, students take a course on Advanced Policy Evaluation. This course will develop understanding of the rationale for, and approaches to, evidenced-based policy evaluation using examples from a wide range of policy areas. It aims to equip students with knowledge necessary to make links between policy questions and evaluation methods and designs, and to introduce students to the main approaches to the design of policy evaluations and their accompanying logics. It willprovide students with a background for systematically and critically reviewing published work on policy evaluation. The eight week course consists of lectures and seminars, including case studies.