Public Policy and Public Administration

Course Description: 

Core Course, Public Policy Track

The course provides an introduction to the concepts, theories and debates at the core of public policy and public administration as a field of scholarly inquiry. The course is designed to prepare the students for their dissertation research, and therefore provides for a broad interdisciplonary discussion of public policy analysis that draws on insights and theories from political science, international relations, economics, and law. The main objective of this course is to develop an advanced understanding of major debates in contemporary public policy, theoretical approaches to the study of public policy as well as diverse methodological considerations for researching various aspects of public policy-making. The course will also develop students’ understanding of core concepts underlying the study of bureaucracy. The objective is to identify and analyze (a), major strands and traditions of public policy scholarship; (b) core concepts in policy analysis; (c) major methodological perspectives, debates and logics of research inquiry used for academic research on public policy; and (d) explanatory capacity of existing theoretical and methodological tools.


Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

• identify the major theoretical debates in contemporary policy studies; Public Policy and Public Administration

• engage with literatures relevant to the study of public administration and bureaucracy

• contrast and compare existing research on public policy, discuss theoretical traditions and frameworks and critically engage with their arguments;

• interpret and judge different methodological strategies used in public policy research, and evaluate their core assumptions as well as their heuristic and explanatory potentials;

• evaluate the relevance of existing frameworks and approaches for their own work;

• have an understanding of the major challenges and requirements of doing advanced research professionally in an academic or practical context.


1. Seminar participation (10%) Students are expected to attend each seminar and regularly participate in discussions. Participation is graded as follows: attendance (but no participation) will merit a C+; good faith efforts at participation lead to the B/B+ range; valuable contributions are in the B+/A range. We expect attendance at seminar discussions throughout the semester. An absence must be reported in advance. 2. Session presentation and moderation (30%) Each term, students are asked to take the lead on one topic. In the Fall term this takes the format of a short (15 minute) presentation, followed by questions for discussion. Presenters are asked to send their outline (slides or notes) to the lecturer of the given seminar at least two working days in advance. The grade will be based on the extent to which added value to the readings is provided in a clear and coherent manner that stimulates discussion. In the Winter term students run a full seminar, which follows a format of the student’s choosing. The grade will be based both on the ability to meet predefined learning objectives for the session and the quality and clarity of content delivery. 3. Peer reviews (20%) Students will be asked to review scholarly articles in the field of public policy. Reviews provide for substantiated critiques and take a position towards the scholarly contribution of the assessed article. The first of the peer reviews will be on a paper chosen by the course lecturers, and it is due in week 7 for the first Academic Practice excursus. The review should result in a recommendation to publish/not to publish in a journal pre-determined by the lecturer, and outline the major strengths and weaknesses of the paper. This review will not be graded. The second review will be done on an article of the students’ choice and field of interest, and will be graded. The second peer-review is due by the end of the Fall term (exact date tba). 4. Final paper (40%) The final paper is a scholarly piece on a subject of your choice. It embeds the research question in a larger academic context, defines a framework of analysis, is empirically rich and follows standard models of research design/ inquiry. Students are strongly encouraged to pick one particular theory or model discussed during the course to inform their analysis. Final papers are 4,000 words of length (all inclusive, +/- 10% permissible; overlong or too short papers will be marked down). Students are expected to inform the instructors on the topic of the paper no later than one month before the submission. The final paper is due at the end of the course (late March/early April, tba). Please note that late papers will be marked down by a third of a letter grade per day. Please also note that failing any requirement will mean a fail grade for the entire course.

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