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Policy Culture and Change in Higher Education

This unit will provide participants with the opportunity to critically scrutinise Higher Education policy and change initiatives contextualised within their own organisational, cultural and practice settings.

Unit Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, participants will be able to:

  1. Apply appropriate theoretical frameworks for policy analysis and theories of change to a Higher Education policy and practice context
  2. Critically examine processes of change and innovation and or policy implementation in a Higher Education context.
  3. Justify how theoretical and policy analysis can enhance Higher Education professional practice


The curriculum will cover the following areas:

  • What is education policy: product, process, purposes? Policy making and implementation processes: analysis for policy and analysis of policy. P
  • olicy and multi-level HE perspectives: macro, meso and micro
  • HE paradigm shifts and ideologies: human and social capital, globalisation, internationalisation, marketisation, massification, audit culture, New Managerialism, New Public Management and Neo-liberalism.
  • Encoding and decoding policy: policy as text and policy as discourse I
  • mplementation and reception of policy: top down, bottom up and hybrid approaches
  • Implementation staircase, loose coupling, the implementation gap and dynamic multiple cultural configurations
  • Theoretical frameworks for policy analysis: critical theory, post-structuralism, policy trajectory studies, critical discourse analysis, social practice theory
  • Conceptualising HE institutional cultures and the implications for change
  • Disciplines: epistemological and moderate essentialism
  • Teaching and Learning Regimes: HE and the practice sensibility
  • The ‘site ontologies’ of organisations: academic departments as bundles of human practices and material arrangements
  • The Third Space: professional services and fluid academic identities
  • Theories of change in a HE context: social practice theory, resource dependency theory, rational purposive theory, nudge theory, individualism, bureaucratic process theory, conflict and bargaining theory, collegial approach and practice architectures
  • Analytical levels: structure and agency and the Transformational Model of Social Action
  • Researching for change in your own institution: the challenges of doing HE insider-research
  • Policy evaluation and evidence: engineering, enlightening and realistic approaches

Unit Assessment

Critical analysis of a Higher Education policy or change implementation (100%)


  1. Identify a process of change or innovation in Higher Education and by applying any one or more of the theories of change you have researched in the unit, critically examine why and how this change was introduced and implemented.


  2. Choose an educational policy document either internal or external to your Higher Education institution and critically examine its underlying rationale, ideological narrative and implementation within a chosen practice context whilst relevantly applying any of the theoretical frameworks for policy analysis.

Whether you choose option 1 or 2, your submission must include:

  • Change or policy HE context
  • Study rationale: what, why and how
  • Application of relevant HE policy or change literature
  • Critical analysis of chosen policy or change scenario
  • Conclusions

Guide length: 4000 words


For more information, please contact the Unit Leader Bernard Lisewski

As well as registering below, in some circumstances you may need to complete an application form to study this unit. Please check on the application form page »

In brief


Mode of study: online

Number of sessions: 6 (3 hour sessions)

Type of session: Workshop and discussion

Assessment type and size:
Formative - presentation of draft summative assessment work in progress in conjunction with tutor and peer feedback.
Summative - critical analysis of a Higher Education policy or change implementation (100%)

Prior knowledge and or experience required: sufficient experience of working in HE. It is a requirement that applicants have successfully completed a core MA / PG Certificate unit before undertaking this unit.

When will it run: from January over the Spring and Summer terms

Unit leader/contact: Bernard Lisewski

Delivery Dates and Registration

Please note: Units are delivered online. Processing time required for applications and preparation time for participants means that the last registration date cannot be extended

Timetables for units that are currently running can be found at the bottom of this page. Go to current timetables »

There are no forthcoming dates available for this unit at the moment


Timetables for currently running units:


Taught sessions began: Wednesday 29th September 2021, 1:00pm

Click here to see full timetable

Policy, Culture and Change in HE

Taught sessions on Wednesday 1-4pm

29 Sept 2021 Session 1 online
27 Oct Session 2 online
24 Nov Session 3 online
19 Jan 2022 Session 4 online
16 Feb Session 5 online
16 Mar Session 6 online
25 April 2022 Final Submission Deadline Moodle


Please contact the UTA CPD team if you have any queries.