GV477      Half Unit
Comparative Public Policy Change

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Mark Thatcher


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University). This course is available 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, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in Public Policy and Administration, MSc in Public Policy and Administration (Research), MSc in Regulation and MSc in Regulation (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students should normally be taking GV4E9 Approaches and Issues in Public Policy and Administration or already have a good knowledge of comparative public policy. Waiving of these requirements will be at the discretion of the course teacher.

Course content

The course examines explanations of policy change using cross-national comparison.

Seminars will focus on cases in key policy domains (chosen according to the literature available and interest for wider analytical questions, as well as the expertise available), but in the examination and assessed essay, any set of (2) countries can be used as examples. Key topics include: theoretical approaches to comparison and policy change; regulatory reform; varieties of capitalism; the changing size and role of the state; institutions for global public health; poverty and biodiversity.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 4 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will write one unassessed essay during the term.

Indicative reading

There is no single textbook but the following are particularly useful introductions: B G Peters, Institutional Theory in Political Science: The New Institutionalism. third edition (Pinter, London and New York, 2011); P John Analysing Public Policy (Pinter 2000) W Parsons, Public Policy (Edward Elgar, 1995); P A Hall & D Soskice (Eds), Varieties of Capitalism, (2001);. W. Streeck and K Thelen eds, Beyond continuity : institutional change in advanced political economies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), V S. Schmidt, The Futures of European Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), B Hancke, M Rhodes and M Thatcher (eds), Beyond Varieties of Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 14

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication