PUB 315: Public Policy Analysis

Course Description

This is an introductory course in the very broad field of public policy analysis. It will provide the student with an overview of various approaches to the study of public policy. Different concepts, theories, policy models, as well as the processes and techniques used in policy analysis, are examined. Students will be exposed to many different public policy issues. Students will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the course to a specific public policy issue during the semester. (3 credits)


  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • ENG 102: English Composition 2
  • ECO104: Microeconomics (Recommended)

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Upon completion of this course, students should have gained insight and be able to demonstrate considerable knowledge in the following areas:

  1. Knowledge of the study and practice of public policy.
  2. An understanding of the historical and structural context of public policy making.
  3. A comprehension of the official actors and their roles in the public policy process.
  4. A comprehension of the unofficial actors and their roles in the public policy process.
  5. Be able to describe the agenda setting process, power, and influence of special interest groups.
  6. Knowledge of public policies in general, as well as specific types of public policies.
  7. Understanding the application of public policy design and public policy tools.
  8. Be able to articulate how public policies are implemented, and why some fail.
  9. The application of different models used in the public policy process.
  10. A thorough understanding of all aspects of the public policy setting process.
  11. Knowledge of public policy analysis, and its applications.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Below is a listing of the graded assignments, along with the applicable week that each assignment is due, the course points for each activity, and the weight given to each type of graded activity. It should be noted that the instructor will read all papers for content, grammar, and spelling, as well as appropriate documentation. The instructor will also check each student’s responses to the case studies on a weekly basis. The grading criteria for discussions, case studies, and policy paper are also show below.


Class Participation/Discussions (Weeks 1 –8)



Public Policy Paper (Week 7)



Final Examination (Week 8)








Number (a minimum of 3 quality posts per graded topic per week)



Quality (at least 50-75 words per post directly related to the graded topic)






* Per discussion topic.

Public Policy Paper

Public Policy PaperPointsWeight










Documentation/References (APA)






Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore

  • Birkland, Thomas. An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making. 5th ed. M.E. Sharpe, Inc, 2020. ISBN-13: 978-1-138-49561-6
  • Bardach, Eugene. A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving. 6th ed. CQ Press, 2020. ISBN-13: 978-1-5063-6888-7

Optional Text

(not available through bookstore)

The following book is recommended reading for this course:

  • Larry Gerston, Public Policy Making: Process and Principles (M. E. Sharpe, 2004).

Course Schedule

The weekly schedule for this course, along with student learning outcomes, readings and exercises, and the supporting assignments, are highlighted below.

WeekSLOsReadings and ExercisesAssignment(s)



  • Self-Introductions
  • Overview of Course
  • Review of Course Requirements
  • Highlights of Grading Criteria
  • Question and Answer Period about the Class.
  • Conduct policy-related research on the web as posted by the instructor.
  • Obtain knowledge of the detailed nature of public policy, as well as the online resources available in this field.
  • Each student is expected to introduced themselves to the other class members
  • Instructor will provide course highlights and requirements
  • Instructor will review grading criteria and respond to student questions about the course



  • Birkland Book - Chapter 1
    The Study and Practice of Public Policy
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 2
    The Historical and Structural Context of Public Policy Making
  • Case Study Discussion - Does the DARE Program Work?
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in the discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecturer material



  • Birkland Book – Chapter 3
    Official Actors and Their Roles in Public Policy
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 4
    Unofficial Actors and Their Roles in Public Policy
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 5
    Agenda Setting, Power, and Interest
  • Case Study Discussion - Civil Rights and the Deliberate Pace of Change
  • Read the assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in the discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecture material
  • Select public policy issue for Public Policy Paper assignment (inform instructor of selection via the Week 3 Assignment Tool)



  • Birkland Book – Chapter 6
    Policies and Policy Types
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 7
    Policy Design and Policy Tools
  • Case Study Discussion – The Problem Of School Shootings
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in the discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecture material
  • Review public policy paper steps/methodology located in the Week 5 Assignment content area (recommended)



  • Birkland Book – Chapter 8
    Policy Implementation and Policy Failure
  • Birkland Book: Chapter 9: Policy Design And Policy Tools
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 10:
    Policy Implementation, Failure And Learning
  • Birkland Book – Chapter 11: Science And Theory In The Study Of Public Policy
  • Case Study Discussion – The USA PATRIOT ACT And Airport Screening
  • Case Study Discussion – Two Examples of the Regulatory Process
  • Read the assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in the discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecture material
  • Conduct research on the public policy issue selected (recommended)



  • Bardach Book – Part I
    The Eighfold Path (Steps One through Eight)
  • Bardach Book – Part II
    Assembling Evidence
  • Case Study Discussion - The Challenge of Policy Typologies. When Is a Symbolic Policy Not Merely Symbolic?
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in the discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecture material
  • Review websites and other materials distributed by the instructor
  • Prepare Public Policy Paper (recommended)



  • Bardach Book – Part III: Handling A Design Problem
  • Bardach Book – Part IV
    “Smart (Best) Practices” Research:
    Understanding and Making Use of What
    Looks Like Good Ideas from Somewhere Else
  • Bardach Book – Appendices A-E
  • Case Study Discussion - Policy Failure and Learning in Aviation Security, 2000 - 2010
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Respond and participate in discussion of case studies
  • Review the lecture material
  • Submit Public Policy Paper to the Week 7 Assignment Tool



  • Final Examinations Available
    (Distributed Monday, due Friday)
  • Post Policy Papers to Course Documents for student review and instructor evaluation/grading
  • Final examinations distributed on Monday of Week 8 to students and due Friday of Week 8
  • Email/call instructor with any questions

Public Policy Paper

Students will be required to complete between an 8 to 10 page policy brief analyzing a public policy issue of their choice according to the “Eightfold Path” model described in the Bardach book. This assignment will let you put into practice what you have learned in the assigned readings. You will be required to analyze a public policy using an acceptable methodology, common to the public policy field. For example, see Appendix A in the book, pages 107 through 121.

This paper should be designed to inform an elected leader (appropriate for the issue selected) of why the selected issue is of importance, and analyze the public policy issue selected according to the following “Eightfold Path” methodology:

  • Define the problem
  • Assemble the evidence
  • Construct the alternatives
  • Select the criteria
  • Project the outcomes
  • Confront the trade-offs
  • Decide what to do
  • Tell your story

Papers should be double spaced, 12-point Arial or Times-Roman font, with full reference lists and citations in an acceptable APA format (i.e., citations in parentheses within the text, or the citations shown as footnotes, either at the bottom of the page or at the end of the paper). All citations to Internet sources should be fully and properly cited consistent with APA guidelines. Papers are due by Monday of Week 7.

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.