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Study information

Innovation and the Science-Policy Interface

Module titleInnovation and the Science-Policy Interface
Module codeGEOM144
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Jean-Francois Mercure (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will introduce you to the structure of the science-policy interface, how evidence-based policy-making works and where and how science can support law-makers formulate policy for sustainability. You will learn about the different processes under which this takes place in current science-policy interfaces, whether cost-benefit analysis, multi-criteria analysis or environmental impact assessment. You will learn the mechanisms involved in the science-policy interface and how to get involved in evidence-based policy-making or in informing policy-making, notably through consultancy. You will explore the nature and structure of innovation, the innovation process and its impact in the economy with an initial focus on policy-making for climate change mitigation. This module has no pre-requisites.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module features two components. In the first, it will equip you with an understanding of the process of evidence-based policy-making, as it takes place in current science-policy interfaces, in general with a focus on the environment and climate change. In the second component, the module will equip you with an understanding of innovation, technological change, innovation policy and the impact of innovation on the economy, providing a basic understanding of environmental and innovation economics. Leading academics and practitioners involved in environmental policy and innovation research will provide knowledge and experience in current environmental policy-making at the UK and EU levels. There will be opportunities for interacting with real-world policy actors, interactive sessions and debates, as well as gaining practical experience.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse and critically engage with the process of evidence-based environmental policy-making
  • 2. Describe the structure of evidence-based policy-making through its various stages
  • 3. Evaluate the process of innovation and its impact on the economy
  • 4. Synthesise how innovation and policy-making for sustainability work together in real-world settings

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Critically formulate credible strategies to implement sustainability solutions
  • 6. Think critically about environmental governance policies, implementation practice, and evaluation

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Critically engage with real-world governance systems
  • 8. Communicate critically orally and in writing ideas on environmental governance
  • 9. Work effectively in groups, with interpersonal skills developed through interactive discussion, practical sessions, and group assessment

Syllabus plan

Led by experts in the field the module will be delivered through 2-3 hour sessions, with either or both: sessions structured around debate over a key reading (e.g. a policy document); session delivered by a policy or other practitioner; lectures with key basic material. The specific theories covered will vary according to availability of teaching staff and invited external speakers, but are likely to include:

  • the policy cycle
  • methods for policy appraisal in use at the various stages of the policy cycle
  • basic environmental economics
  • key concepts in innovation
  • innovation policy

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching10Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching10Seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching1Introduction to the module
Scheduled learning and teaching2Individual presentations (formative)
Scheduled learning and teaching1Introduction to the module
Scheduled learning and teaching2Preparation for assessment workshop
Guided independent study124Reading and research for tutorials and assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation10 minutes1, 4-6, 8Peer-to-peer/in-class feedback from lecturers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group policy presentation2515 minutes1, 4-6, 8-9Peer-to-peer/in-class feedback from lecturers
Policy analysis report752500 words1-7Peer-to-peer/in-class feedback from lecturers

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group policy presentationIndividual policy presentation1, 4-6, 8-9Referred/deferred period
Policy analysis reportPolicy analysis report1-7Referred/deferred period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to redo the relevant assessment. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Specific readings will be provided for the module consistent with the taught areas of theory for that year but in general you will be expected to read original theory articles or book chapters. A couple of examples are given below but these may not be included in the year’s syllabus. You can contact the module lead in the Autumn semester for details of the theory that will be covered in the upcoming year.

  • Crabbe, N., and Leroy, N., 2008. The Handbook of Environmental Policy Evaluation. Earthscan
  • Stern, N., 2007 The Economics of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press.
  • Various reports from the UK government and European Commission, including the UK’s Climate Change Act policy document.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE page: URL

Key words search

Policy cycle, innovation, environmental economics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date