Public Policy and Management

MPA Public Policy and Management

Understanding decision-making, organisational structures and budgetary processes in the public sector are core to the MPA Public Policy and Management stream.

Students taking this policy stream will develop knowledge and skills for effective policy-making in public sector bodies. This stream particularly equips students to pursue careers in public management, public sector consulting, and governance related work in international organisations or think tanks.

Core courses

Students on the Public Policy and Management stream choose two courses from:

Analytic frameworks for policy evaluation (PP4E4)

(0.5 units)

The course will focus on concepts and cases relevant to understanding economic appraisal and evaluation. The course emphasises the importance of accounting for costs and benefits across different criteria, at different times, risk and uncertainty, and distributional effects; and designing economic appraisal to relate to the political process of making decisions. The course examines three methods of economic appraisal: cost benefit analysis (CBA), cost effectiveness analysis (CEA), multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA). It explains the principles of each method and examines case studies to show their strengths and weaknesses. The aim is for students to learn that, for policy analysis, that the concepts of micro-economics are necessary but not sufficient by relating the issues that emerge from the case studies to major intellectual arguments of the 20th Century. These are arguments over the nature of science, positivism, power, efficiency, equity, and justice. The objective is for students to learn what characterises policy analysis that is likely to succeed or fail.

Governance, markets and competition in the delivery of public services (PP4E5)

(0.5 units)

The course will focus on forms of governance of services examining the shifting balance between government and markets. This includes study of quasi markets, vouchers, privatisation, Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).  The course will examine different kinds of markets for hospitals, health insurers, schools, universities and water. It will consider governance against objectives of costs, equity and quality. It uses economic ideas of principal / agent problems, the economics of transaction costs and behavioural economics. It also examines issues in international trade and public health.

Designing and Managing Change in the Public Sector (PP4G3)

(0.5 units)

The course focuses on important challenges for governments in both developed and less-developed countries in being able to design and manage transformative change in their public sector systems. Pressures on these governments to tackle complex problems, become more productive, build capacity, be more agile or innovative, or respond to rapidly changing environments make it ever more important that change is designed and managed carefully, and with some degree of success. The course looks at factors explaining governments’ ability to adapt strategically to rapidly changing external environments, and also examines why public sector organisations may succeed or struggle in designing and delivering large-scale programmes of change.

PP4G3 integrates key theory, concepts, and extensive empirical case-based material. It introduces design-based and holistic approaches to change, examines important component aspects, and discusses limitations that constrain governments and public sector organizations in their ability to design and manage change. The course looks at these challenges primarily from this perspective of the senior public sector officials involved, working at the interface of high politics, policy making, and operational delivery. It draws on cases from a wide range of sectors and policy areas, and has global reach in terms of country case materials.

Fiscal Governance and Budgeting (PP4J5)

(0.5 units)

This course examines contemporary issues in fiscal governance and public budgeting in OECD countries and elsewhere.  The focus is on executive and legislative actors and the institutional structures within which they make budgetary choices.  Following an introduction to theoretical approaches to the study of budgeting, topics include medium-term frameworks, top-down budgeting, fiscal rules and fiscal councils, performance budgeting, legislative budgeting, fiscal decentralisation, budget transparency, audit and accountability.

PP4J5 will not be available in Academic Year 2018-19. 

Core faculty

Simon Bastow

Dr Simon Bastow

LSE Fellow
Department of Management

Gwyn Bevan

Professor Gwyn Bevan

Professor of Policy Analysis
Department of Management

Christine Cote

Dr Christine Côté 

Visting Fellow
Department of Management

Joachim Wehner

Dr Joachim Wehner

Associate Professor in Public Policy
Executive MPA Director
Department of Government


Graduates from the MPA in Public Policy and Management have pursued careers in the OECD, the World Bank, national governments (including the Netherlands, Norway, Canada and the UK), government agencies (Indian Railways, British Council) and in private sector consulting (Accenture, Ernst & Young, McKinsey and KPMG). 

Alumni stories

Raphaelle Delmotte

Raphaelle Delmotte

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, International Growth Centre
Class of 2011

Katie Walpole

Katie Walpole

Management Analyst at Clark County, Nevada
Class of 2014