Department of Political Science


Social Values & Public Policy: Health and the Environment

Course Code


Course Tutor

Professor Albert Weale (Department of Political Science)


2,500 word essay (80%) + oral presentation notes (20%)

Credit Value


About this course

The module is concerned with the way in which questions of social values intersect with practical policy dilemmas in particular in health and environmental policies. It examines these topics by bringing together influential work on social values together with current policy dilemmas in the fields of health and the environment, including such matters as the limits of justifiable state interference in the unhealthy choices of individuals, the justice of priority setting in health care and the obligations of current citizens in respect of climate change.

Course aims

The aims of the module are:

  • To provide understanding of some social values that are relevant to public policy;
  • to examine the way in which those values play a role in public policy;
  • to apply normative theory to questions arising from cases of public policy debate, with particular reference to health and environmental policy;
  • to provide an opportunity to study the way in which ideas and principles play a role in public deliberation on questions of ethical importance;
  • to provide an understanding of practical public reasoning as exemplified in significant reports and policy documents.

Course objectives

By the end of the module, students should be:

  • familiar with the arguments of selected reports, and understand the logic of their recommendations;
  • able to evaluate the cogency and validity of the arguments contained in the reports and be able to offer a critique of their principal shortcomings;
  • familiar with some widely employed social values, understanding their logic and their scope of application;
  • able to present orally and in writing an example of practical reasoning in relation to a particular topic;
  • able to present in writing theoretically informed expositions and evaluations of selected public policy areas.

*Please note that this module will not be running in 2018/19