MPA Capstone Project

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Babken Babajanian SAR.G.03


This course is compulsory 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 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.

Course content

Students will undertake a group project (in teams usually of 3 to 6 people) relating to a public policy problem faced by an external organisation. Typical clients include public sector bodies, companies operating in the public management or public policy sector, international organisations or think tanks and NGOs. The group will have from October to March to work on an issue defined by the client organisation, investigating and developing a workable solution to the problem.


7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 3 hours of seminars in the LT.

Teaching comprises seven 1.5 hour Capstone seminars in the MT and LT.  These seminars provide guidance on planning, structuring and presenting the Capstone report and the usage of research methods.  In addition, students can benefit from the MPA Skills Development Seminars focusing on essential aspects of policy analysis and writing.  Students are asked to participate in the Capstone Professional Development exercises designed to support effective and fair group work.  Each Capstone group will be allocated a supervisor, who will provide overall guidance on the project's development and assistance with client liaison. Other members of staff may also advise as required.

Formative coursework

Feedback will be provided on presentations of work-in-progress during MT and LT.

Indicative reading

Useful preliminary reading: Charles E. Lindblom and David K. Cohen, Social Science and Social Problem Solving (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979; Martha S. Feldman, Order Without Design: Information Production and Policy-making (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989); Ray Pawson, Evidence-based Policy: A Realist Perspective (London: Sage, 2006); Common Causes of Project Failure (London: OGC, 2004); Howard White, Theory-based Impact Evaluation: Principles and Practice (3ie, 2011); Curtis Cook, Just Enough Project Management (McGraw-Hill, 2004); J. E. McGrath and F. Tschan, 'Dynamics in Groups and Teams: Groups as Complex Action Systems', chapter three in M. S. Poole and A. H. Van de Ven (eds) Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (Oxford University Press, 2004).


Project (100%, 15000 words) in the LT.

The project work is conducted in teams, and the assessment is based on a collective group mark for each component except in exceptional circumstances. 

The group mark has three components:

1) 20% of the overall mark is assigned by the client organisation based on a group presentation and a submission of the project report.

2) 50% of the overall mark is given by two academic readers upon submission of the project report; and

3) the final 30% of the overall mark is allocated by the Capstone supervisor on the basis of the group's performance in terms of (i) scoping and project development (including coping with difficulties), (ii) group working and self-management as a team, and (iii) the overall output of the project (10% for each item).  Additionally, each group member must write a personal reflection of no more than 600 words on their contribution to the group's work to be submitted individually and separately from the report.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 0
Merit 60
Pass 40
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2014/15: 4

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information