Political Science and Public Policy

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Simon Hix


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Administration. 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) and MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

In this course we develop tools to understand and analyse important political phenomena including political behaviour (such as voting behaviour, elections and lobbying), political institutions (such as electoral systems, parliamentary and presidential government and central banks) and political outcomes (such as economic policies, development aid and ethnic conflict).  The course combines a review of the main empirical regularities across time and across country in each of these areas, with an introduction to key theoretical arguments about how to understand how actors interact and how institutions shape strategic behaviour, and an introduction to the latest empirical (and causal) estimation techniques for testing the key theoretical ideas.


22 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 22 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Formative work includes, for example, each term a two-page reading response and a problem set that reviews core concepts in empirical and theoretical models of political economy.

Indicative reading

Analysing Politics by Shepsle and Bonchek (W.W. Norton, 1997) provides an excellent starting point and can be used as the main reference for many topics. A full reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course.


Exam (60%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.
Essay (20%, 2000 words).
Other (20%) in the MT and LT.

The 20% 'other' assessment are application exercises carried out in groups.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.9
Merit 46.4
Pass 42.7
Fail 4

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 67

Average class size 2016/17: 15

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 87%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)