GV477      Half Unit
Comparative Public Policy Change

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Mark Thatcher CON 4.17


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

This course is capped at two groups. The deadline for enrolments will be at 12 noon on Monday, October 3 2016. You will be informed of the outcome by 12 noon, Wednesday, 5 October 2016.


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.

The course 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 or international jurisdictions such as the EU can be used as examples. Key topics include: theoretical approaches to comparison and policy change; neo-liberalism; privatisation; regulatory reform; varieties of capitalism; the changing size and role of the state.


3 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 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), Dodds, A Comparative Public Policy (Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2013; VA Schmidt and M Thatcher (eds), Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.)


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

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.5
Merit 70.3
Pass 17.2
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2015/16: 19

Average class size 2015/16: 9

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 86%



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