Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.
Examine the role that ethical, cultural, religious, and moral principles play in the formulation and execution of public policy by lawmakers and other public officials. Topics include domestic and international policy, justice, equality, fairness, individual liberty, free enterprise, charity, and human rights.
This course discusses the role ethical, moral, and cultural principles play in how lawmakers and public officials formulate and execute public policy.
After studying the foundational theories of ethics and morality in politics, we review arguments about issues in domestic and international policy from a variety of perspectives. Common themes in ethics debates include justice, equality, fairness, individual liberty, free enterprise, charity, fundamental human rights, and minimizing harm to others. These themes are integrated into various decision-making models, such as the utilitarian approach, fairness and justice approach, and rights approach.
When executing public policy, it is impossible to avoid harming others. Public policy often requires a redistribution of resources, denial of rights or privileges, or promotion of one group at the expense of another. We use decision-making frameworks to help balance competing interests to make the best decision, or the one that causes the least amount of pain. We examine five types of decision frameworks used to make and implement public policy, and rationales used to justify inequitable impact and outcomes of policies.
This course includes the following units:
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.
The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.
All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.
Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.
POLSC401: Ethics and Public Policy is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 87 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.
Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:
In order to take this course, you should:
This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.
For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.
This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.