GV4V8      Half Unit
MPA Policy Paper

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Babken Babajanian SAR.G.03


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in European Policy-Making, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact and Master of Public Administration. This course is not available as an outside option.

Students may not take this course and an MPA dissertation.


Course content

The aim of the course is to enable students to plan, design and conduct independent analysis in an area of public policy. MPA students will write an individually-authored policy paper of no more than 6,000 words on a topic developed in consultation with their Academic Adviser.  The paper will analyse a concrete policy problem in a specific setting and propose an evidence-based solution or course of amelioration. It must be addressed to a non-academic audience and should be clearly and directly written, suitable for consideration by policy-makers.  The main body of the paper should include methodology, results of the analysis, discussion of different policy options, conclusions and policy recommendations.  The policy paper must be accompanied by an Executive Summary.  Policy papers can utilise quantitative and/or qualitative data and draw on secondary and/or primary research.


6 hours of seminars in the MT. 3 hours of seminars in the LT.

Teaching comprises six seminars in the MT and LT.  These seminars provide academic and practical guidance on developing the policy paper topic and question; designing analytical frameworks; structuring and presenting policy analysis; and writing policy recommendations.  The student's Academic Adviser will provide advice and guidance on this piece of work.

Formative coursework

A policy paper proposal (of no more than 750 words in total) consisting of the title, abstract, research question, justification for analysis, feasibility of the topic, an explanation of sources, structure and analytical framework must be submitted in the MT.  Students may only change their topic thereafter with the agreement of their Academic Adviser.  Students will be given feedback on their proposal.

Indicative reading

David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining, Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice, 5th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2010); Lisa Anderson, ed., Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (Columbia University Press, 2005); Edith Stokey and Richard Zeckhauser, A Primer for Policy Analysis (Norton, 1978); Anthony E. Boardman et al., Cost-Benefit Analysis, 4th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2010); William N. Dunn, Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction, 4th ed. (Pearson, 2008); Eugene Bardach, Practical Guide for Policy Analysis, 4th ed. (CQ Press, 2011); Alec Fisher, The Logic of Real Arguments (Cambridge University Press, 1988); Charles Lindblom and David K. Cohen, Usable Knowledge: Social Science and Social Problem Solving (Yale University Press, 1979); Isabel Vogel, Review of the Use of 'Theory of Change' in International Development (DfID, 2012); Edward T. Jackson, Interrogating the Theory of Change: Evaluating Impact Investing where it Matters Most' (Journal of Sustainable Finance and Investment, vol. 3, No. 2, 95-110, 2013); Catherine Hakim, Research Design: Strategies and Choices in the Design of Social Policy, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2000); Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, 4th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012); David Partington, Essential Skills for Management Research (Sage Publications, 2002); Patrick Dunleavy, Authoring a PhD (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).


Other (100%) in the ST.

6,000 word policy paper

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.4
Merit 30.8
Pass 46.2
Fail 7.7

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 6

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information