MPA Capstone Project

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gregory Fischer LRB. R537 and Dr Daniel Sturm


This course is compulsory on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy and MPA in Public and Social Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

Students will undertake a group project (in teams usually of 3 to 6 people) relating to a public policy problem faced by an external organisation. Typical clients include public sector bodies, companies operating in the public management or public policy sector, international organisations or think tanks and NGOs. The group will have from October to February to work on an issue defined by the client organisation, investigating and developing a workable solution to the problem.


2 hours of lectures in the MT.

All students must attend the opening capstone introduction session in MT. Each Capstone group will be allocated a supervisor, who will provide overall guidance on the project's development and assistance with client liaison. Other members of staff may also advise as required.

Formative coursework

Feedback will be provided on presentations of work-in-progress during MT

Indicative reading

Useful preliminary reading: Charles E. Lindblom and David K. Cohen, Social Science and Social Problem Solving (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979; Martha S. Feldman, Order Without Design: Information Production and Policy-making (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989); Ray Pawson, Evidence-based Policy: A Realist Perspective (London: Sage, 2006); Office for Government Commerce Common Causes of Project Failure (London: OGC, 2004); Strategy Survival Guide (London: Prime Minister's Strategy Unit. July 2004; C. R. Cook, Just Enough Project Management (McGraw-Hill, 2004); J. E. McGrath and F. Tschan, Dynamics in Groups and Teams: Groups as Complex Action Systems, chapter three in M. S. Poole and A. H. Van de Ven (eds) Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (Oxford University Press, 2004).


Project (100%, 15000 words) in the LT.

The project work is conducted in teams, and the assessment is based on a collective group mark for each component except in exceptional circumstances. 1) A presentation and submission of the project report to the client organisation. The presentation must take place by week 8 of the Lent term, on a date agreed with the client organisation. 20% of the marks are assigned by the client organisation after receipt of the presentation and project report. 2) A group project report of up to 15,000 words to be submitted during the Lent Term. The report is read by academic markers and their assessment accounts for 60% of the final grade. Additionally, each group member must write a personal reflection on their contribution to the group's work, to be submitted alongside the report. The reflection should be no more than 600 words, and should include specific details of the student's contributions to the project. The reflections should not be included in the report submitted to the client. Any appendices to the project report should only consist of technical data and may not contain any substantive analysis. 3) The final 20% of the marks are allocated by the Capstone supervisor on the basis of the group's performance in terms of (i) scoping and project development (including coping with difficulties) and (ii) group working and self-management as a team.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2012/13: 25

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information