Master of Health Studies (MHST) 605

Demystifying Policy Analysis and Development


Delivery Mode: Paced/home-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: For MHS Students: MHST 601
For MN-Gen Students: NURS 608

Co-requisite: MHS and MN-Gen Students: MHST603/NURS 603

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies


This course will introduce you to policy analysis and development with a focus on contemporary Canadian health policy. Some of the content areas we will explore include: identifying and defining policy problems, how policy problems get on the agendas of decision-makers, theoretical and methodological approaches to policy analysis, policy development and change, policy communication, and policy evaluation. There will be an emphasis on identifying and analyzing the institutions, interests, and ideas that inform policy development. Specific public, administrative, and clinical policy issues in Canadian healthcare will be explored throughout the course to illustrate the application of these concepts and to demonstrate policy in action.

The activities and assignments for this course are designed to encourage a critical examination of health policy and to help you develop skills in policy analysis and professional policy communication. Activities include preparing for each unit through readings drawn from various disciplines and engaging deeply with course concepts and your peers in online unit learning. You will also focus on a specific health policy topic of interest to you throughout the course by defining the policy problem, preparing a policy brief for a decision-maker, and writing a professional op-ed.

Course Goals

Throughout MHST/NURS 605: Demystifying Policy Analysis and Development you will:

  • examine contemporary health policy issues in Canada,
  • explain how certain health issues make it onto the policy agenda,
  • analyze policy development and change by identifying key interests, institutions, and ideas,
  • compare various theories and frameworks for policy analysis,
  • critically reflect on the role of values and evidence in Canadian health policy,
  • communicate a written policy recommendation effectively, professionally, and persuasively for a lay audience,
  • distill important concepts from policy literature and effectively communicate these findings,
  • critically reflect on how to engage patients and communities as stakeholders in health policy,
  • frame and analyze the magnitude, severity, and visibility of a specific policy problem,
  • interpret and synthesize evidence about a specific policy problem and potential solutions, and

Course Materials

MHST/NURS 605 uses online course materials. There is no print textbook for this course.

Online Materials

  • Online study guide
  • Online multi-media learning resources

All learning resources are available electronically in the public domain, through the AU library, or posted on our Moodle site. On occasion, your instructor may substitute or add online learning resources.

Technical Requirements

Computer System

To successfully complete this course, you must own or have ready access to certain computer hardware and software programs. For complete and up-to-date information on the minimum computer requirements required to complete the graduate nursing courses, visit the Centre for Nursing and Health Studies technical site.

Course Outline

  • Unit 1 (Week 1): Introduction and overview
  • Unit 2 (Weeks 2 and 3): Identifying and defining policy problems
  • Unit 3 (Week 4): Theoretical and methodological approaches to policy analysis
  • Unit 4 (Weeks 5, 6, 7, and 8): Policy development: The 3-i framework
  • Unit 5 (Weeks 9 and 10): Policy communication and dialogue
  • Unit 6 (Weeks 11 and 12): Policy evaluation
  • Unit 7 (Week 13): Reflection and review

Assessment Structure

In the MHS and MN:Gen programs, students must achieve an overall program GPA of 2.7 ( B- or 70 percent), to graduate. The minimum passing grade requirement for each MHS and MN:Gen course is C- (60 percent).

The following course activities will contribute to your course grade, with the percentage weighting of each activity as follows:

The assessment structure for MHST/NURS 605 is based on the following course activities, with the percentage weighting of each activity as indicated. Your final grade for the course will be a composite mark based on your performance on these course activities.

Course Activity Weighting
Participation (forums and small group discussions) 20%
Assignment 1: Policy problem 15%
Assignment 2: Policy brief 35%
Assignment 3: Policy op-ed 30%
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.