SM9703 - Digital Public Services Environments

Book an Open Day Add to My Courses Register your interest / Course PDF

What will I learn on this module?

The drivers for more digital tools to enhance public services delivery come from different perspective and directions: improvements in efficiency and appropriate uptake and integration of services and improving inclusion through engagement of stakeholders. The former also focuses on enhancing performance through smart technologies: automated assistants, apps, chabots. This module critically explores the implications of the ‘digital revolution’ - from online campaigns, staying connected, staying healthy, big data and internet of everything to the challenges of digital inclusion , ethical management and use of personal data and the tensions between privacy and transparency.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered through a combination of tutor-directed learning, group learning and independent learning. In the taught sessions, an interactive approach will draw upon the directed learning undertaken and participants’ own experiences. Throughout, the emphasis will be on levels of participation, both individually and within small groups or teams.

Participants can therefore expect a reflective-practitioner approach to learning to be embedded in all sessions through undertaking activities, which facilitate them to apply theory to ‘real-life’ situations, critically analysing and making recommendations for appropriate ways forward for the organisation/individual. The module aims to provide impact to your day-to-day professional role and sessions will be structured to ensure that you can take the learning from the module and apply it directly in your workplace.

Directed learning will centre upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for interactive activities and use of the discussion board on the e-learning platform.

An initial workshop will introduce you to the module, assessment and core topics. Subsequent to this you will be guided through a range of subject specific topics delivered over the period of the module. Key messages from these sessions will be available by video/podcast to support your learning outside of the classroom. During the taught sessions a range of learning and teaching approaches will be adopted including tutor-led discussions providing context to the theoretical concepts and practical tools and techniques, illustrative international case studies that form the basis for group problem solving and digital strategy exercises. This will be followed by a critical analysis and discussions of the topical issues, challenges and problems identified

Independent learning will centre upon the students identifying and pursuing areas of interest in relation to the subject and by providing deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities that will include extended reading, reflection, research etc.

Critical reflection on knowledge, experience and practice underpins the learning and teaching philosophy along with the explicit development of competence. You are particularly encouraged to bring examples from the workplace into the classroom to share with each other and with the tutors. The module will also incorporate sessions delivered by external practice experts as well as from academic experts in the field drawn from the Business School.

You will participate in a learning set with your peers to facilitate a deeper discussion of the personal impact of the module contents on your individual professional practice and the application of learning into your own work organisation.

For those of you studying as a Degree Apprenticeship student the workplace will form a significant element of your learning. This will include weekly directed activities outlined in the module learning plan. These activities will enable reflection on learning from taught sessions and subsequent application through research into practice. Engagement with your learning coach and workplace manager/mentor will use these activities as a key element of discussion during coaching and review meetings.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

A range of approaches are adopted to accelerate your learning in this module.
During the first week of this module, you will receive information about the module and Teaching & Learning Plan. The teaching and learning plan (TLP) sets out
• Learning outcomes and overall module and programme aims
• Teaching, learning and assessment strategy
• Teaching schedule
• Directed reading references (text and journals) and core texts for the module

Further supporting this learner journey, the first taught of this module will discuss the rational and learning objectives of this module and how it contributes to your overall programme goals. The formative and summative assessment strategy will be outlined as will a refresher on key academic skills and resources critical to your success as a learner on this module. This session will also be available as a video/podcast for further reinforcement.
During this module your module tutor, a subject specialist, will provide academic support including:
• Delivering workshops
• Providing guidance in relation to assignments
• Development of key resources, made available through the VLE
• Specialist subject advice, particularly in linking your work to academic research, concepts and emerging knowledge in the field
• Assessing assignments and assess or review any other agreed summative or formative outputs as appropriate

For those of you studying on a Degree Apprenticeship you will also be supported by an Executive Coach who provides your consistent support throughout your Degree Apprenticeship. This Executive Coach will support with:
• Helping you to understand the requirements of this module and how it relates to your workplace context
• Helping you to understand how you can apply and evidence the knowledge, skills and behaviours covered in the module to your own practice in the workplace
• Visiting you at work and engaging with your manager and/or mentor to ensure alignment between your learning and opportunities for applying and demonstrating a positive impact in your work organisation.

E-Reading Lists
The module will also have an e-reading list which directs learners to specific reading for each session. You will be provided with an advanced reading list structured to support each of the issues addressed in taught sessions. The reading list will contain academic articles as well as books, book chapters, case studies, video links and current newspaper articles. You will also be provided with access to a significant set academic research sources via the Northumbria University library portal.
You will also have opportunities to receive formative feedback from your tutor in response to opinions you express and issues you raise during workshop sessions and face-to-face or online tutorials. These formative feedback sessions are formally scheduled at key points throughout the module, including any support that may be accessed outside formal scheduled teaching.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:
Demonstrate your knowledge of and critical understanding of the key concepts, models and theories in relation to the topics and themes covered in the module
Identify the opportunities and challenges of digital public services for improved service design and delivery

Intellectual / Professional Skills & Abilities:
Consider the organisational and individual capabilities, skills and aptitudes in different patterns of innovation and co-production of services
Able to evaluate and assess complexity of AI and public services development and advocate appropriate good practice actions and behaviours

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
Present a critical evaluation of current or potential practice and implications for future practice, highlighting practice and ethical considerations and implications.

SLCMDA Standards

1.2 Understands organisational structures; global perspectives; governance and accountability; the external environment, social, technological and policy implications.
1.3 Understands new market strategies, changing customer demands and trend analysis.
2.1 Understands innovation; the impact of disruptive technologies (mechanisms that challenge traditional business methods and practice); drivers of change and new ways of working across infrastructure, processes, people and culture and sustainability.
3.1 Knowledge of regulatory environments, legal, H&S and well-being and compliance requirements; corporate social responsibility; risk management, environmental impact and cyber security.
3.2 Understands competitive strategies and entrepreneurialism, approaches to effective decision-making, and the use of big data and insight to implement and manage change.
6.1 Understands large scale and inter-organisational influencing and negotiation strategies.
6.2 Knowledge of the external political environment and use of diplomacy with diverse groups of internal and external stakeholders.
6.4 Knowledge of brand and reputation management.
2.3 Initiates and leads change in the organisation, creates environment for innovation and creativity, establishing the value of ideas and change initiatives and drives continuous improvement.
2.5 Acts where needed as a Sponsor, championing projects and transformation of services across organisational boundaries.
3.3 Able to challenge strategies and operations in terms of ethics, responsibility, sustainability, resource allocation and business continuity/risk management.
3.4 Drives a culture of resilience and supports development of new enterprise and opportunities.
Personal and interpersonal effectiveness:
8.2 Demonstrates flexibility and willingness to challenge when making decisions and solving problems.
9.1 Is confident and brave, willing to innovate, seeks new ideas and looks for contingencies.
9.2 Manages complexity and ambiguity, comfortable in uncertainty, pragmatic.
11.1 Reflects on own performance, demonstrates professional standards in relation behaviour and ongoing development.
11.2 Advocates the use of good practice within and outside the organisation.

How will I be assessed?

Formative feedback: Throughout the taught sessions formative feedback will be given by the module team related to the case study analyses and other activities.
Summative Assessment
You will be summatively assessed by a 5000 word work related assessment which addresses all module learning outcomes. This assessment will also require you to consider the subsequent implications on your professional practice.
Indicative Brief:
The assessment will consist of one end of module assessment (5000 words in total) consisting of 2 tasks:

Task 1: Create an online blog (using your organisation intranet where appropriate, or professional body site) focusing on the use of AI in your organisation/sector; providing an example of where AI has supported not only the efficiency of service delivery but has complemented the delivery of services by public services staff to improve service delivery. Seek responses re the shift to low complexity/high volume use of technology to more complex services (Approx 1000- 1500 words initial posting, max 500 words follow up)
Task 2: Produce a briefing paper highlighting the challenges and opportunities that may have surfaced from your postings/comments, and literature/research study review. Include suggestions for a Code of Standards/good Practice guidelines for your organisation/sector.





Module abstract

Why is AI really? This was a question posed by Robert Pearl in a 2018 article ( when he attempted to wrest the reality from the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, particularly in relation to health and public services. This module critically explores the implications of the ‘digital revolution’ - from online campaigns, staying connected, staying healthy, big data, blockchain and internet of everything to the challenges of digital inclusion, ethical management and use of personal data and the tensions between privacy and transparency.

What will I learn on this module?

The drivers for data, information and digital technologies (from organisational systems to client facing technologies) to transform public services delivery come from different perspective and directions: improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and appropriate uptake and integration of services and improving innovations through the leadership, collaboration and engagement of stakeholders (including policy makers, public managers, citizens, communities, service providers and the relationships between them). This module critically explores the implications of and provides innovative frameworks for meeting the dual challenges of leadership and collaboration of the ‘digital revolution’ (including GDPR, 5G, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things) - from the political, organisational to the personal including challenges of the architecting and innovation of the environment to support improvements in information sharing, data analytics to the challenges of the innovations offered via digital including management and use of personal data and the tensions between governance, privacy and transparency in public service reform.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years Part Time

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions -
Fees and Funding -
Admissions Policy -
Admissions Complaints Policy -