Fall 2022 - POL 405W B100

Interpretation, Conflict, and Controversy in Public Policy (4)

Class Number: 6133

Delivery Method: Blended


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 1350, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    Eight upper division units in political science or permission of the department.



Examines the role of values, conflict, and controversy in public policy. Competing normative values and narratives are fundamental to policy formulation. We study how these values are articulated, understood by other actors, and resolved in the policy-making process through an interpretive methods and analysis lens. Students with credit for POL 405 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.



POL 405W, which will be of interest to both students of political theory and public policy, provides an opportunity to examine the complex role of values, conflict, and controversy in areas of public policy through the lens of interpretive qualitative analysis. Too often, the fundamental contention that characterizes many policy processes goes unexamined. The substance of this contention is usually normative, having to do with political, social, economic, and/or environmental values. How are these conflicts and controversies articulated? How are they resolved? How are they understood by policy actors? How can they be analyzed by students of politics? The overarching objectives of this course include enabling students to understand and address the ethical, conceptual, methodological, and practical concerns that are associated with interpretive research in areas of public policy. The course aims to stimulate theoretical discussions among students concerning the nature of interpretive and critical analysis of public policy and to provide students with practical exercises in conducting this kind of analysis. The course will also enable students to become proficient in the use of NVivo and will involve regular lab instruction and practice time.

Course Organization:

There will be one two- to three-hour seminar, including lab time, each week. These will be either in person or on Zoom, depending on the week. In addition, there will be one- to two- hours of activities in Canvas.


  • Participation 10%
  • Research Paper Outline, Timeline, and Working Bibliography 10%
  • Research Paper Draft I 10%
  • Research Paper Draft II 15%
  • Presentation 20%
  • Research Paper 35%



Saldaña, Johnny, The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, 3rd Edition (Sage, 2016).

Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine and Dvora Yanow, Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (Routledge, 2012).

Turabian, Kate, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, 9th Edition, revised by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, William T. FitzGerald, and the University of Chicago Press editorial staff (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

These texts will be available in the SFU Bookstore (and online). Additional required readings are available online (through an SFU library electronic search or Google Scholar search) or on reserve via Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/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