Fall 2017 - EDUC 817 G031

Policy Processes (5)

Class Number: 7538

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Instructor:

    Michelle Nilson
    Office: 5218



This course examines three interrelated aspects of policy studies as a critical function of the educational leadership role: conceptual and theoretical foundations concerning policy, policy actors, and policy processes; current research in the field; and topical issues and problems. It also considers social, economic and political contexts (e.g. technologization, corporatization, pluralism) and how they affect education.


Meeting Dates:

Sep 8/9; 22/23;
Oct 13/14; 27/28;
Nov 17/18  

Fridays 4:30 to 9:00
Saturdays 9:30 to 3:30  

SFU Harbour Centre, Room 1530, except Oct 14 and 28, Room 1525 and Nov 18, Room 2520

The course will involve theoretical and practical aspects of educational “policy processes” as practiced in a variety of educational contexts, including the relevant concepts, stakeholders, methods, processes, applications, and tools of policy development and implementation.

Students will be encouraged to apply their developing knowledge and understanding of various theories, practices, and processes to their current professional settings and the educational programs in which they are involved. Students will share their perceptions, reflections, and findings with other members of the cohort, both informally in small group discussions and more formally during presentations to the class.


The course covers major concepts and theoretical approaches to understanding the policy process and explores contemporary policy issues in education.

Key learning outcomes of this course:

  • Identify key stages of the policy cycle and recognize policymaking dynamics within the various stages
  • Apply conceptual frameworks and alternative theories of policymaking to different policies and policy contexts
  • Identify key policy actors, coalitions, positions, and debates in a policy area
  • Locate and critically evaluate policy-relevant research and policy arguments
  • Apply concepts to a post-secondary policy issue and prepare a policy brief.


  • Annotated Bibliography 30%
  • Presentation 30%
  • Final Policy Brief 30%
  • Participation 10%


Details of assignments are provided to students in the extended course outline.

(Normally, graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0)

** Incomplete marks will be given only under extraordinary circumstances that are beyond the student's control and may result in a lower grade.



Bardach, E. and Patashnik, E.M. (2015).  A practical guide for policy analysis: The eightfold path to more effective problem solving (5th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. 
ISBN: 978-1483359465

 Smith, K. B., & Larimer, C.W. (2016). The public policy theory primer (3rd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press   
ISBN: 978-0813350059

Additional readings and multimedia materials will be assigned in the extended course outline and provided in the Canvas course site.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.

Howlett, M., Ramesh, M., & Perl, A. (2009). Studying public policy: Policy cycles & policy subsystems (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sabatier, P. A. (Ed.) (2007). Theories of the policy process (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html