MPA Dissertation

This information is for the 2016/17 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 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.

Students may not take this course and an MPA Policy Paper.

Course content

The aim of this course is to enable students to plan, design and conduct independent substantial research and/or analysis in an area of public policy.  MPA students will write a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words on a topic of their choice to be agreed with their Academic Adviser.  The dissertation must be concerned with the goal of policy improvement and, at the same time, it must contribute to a broader objective of knowledge- and theory-building.  The main body of the dissertation should include literature review, method of investigation, results of the analysis, discussion of findings, conclusions and theoretical and policy implications.  Dissertations can utilise quantitative and/or qualitative data and draw on primary and/or secondary research.


6 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars and 1 hour of seminars in the LT.

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

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); Diana Ridley, The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students (SAGE Study Skills Series, 2008); Christopher Hart, Doing Your Masters Dissertation (SAGE Study Skills Series, 2004); Patrick Dunleavy, Authoring a PhD (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)


Dissertation (90%, 10000 words) in the ST.
Other (10%) in the MT.

1) A 1,500 word dissertation proposal consisting of the title, abstract, research question and hypothesis, justification for research, feasibility of the dissertation topic, an explanation of sources, provisional structure and analytical framework will count for 10% of the overall dissertation mark. Students may only change their topic thereafter with the agreement of their Academic Adviser. Students will be given feedback on their proposal.

2) The full dissertation of no more than 10,000 words will account for the remaining 90% of the overall mark.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 33.3
Merit 33.3
Pass 16.7
Fail 16.7

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 4

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information