SA4J4      Half Unit
Designing and Implementing Evidence-Informed Policies and Programmes

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.

Capped at 30

Course content

The aim of this half-unit course is to help students develop knowledge, critical analysis and skills necessary for evidence-informed policy making. It will enable students to assess, analyse, interpret and use evidence to design relevant and effective interventions. The course particularly emphasises the need to recognise the complexity of economic, social, institutional and political context and incorporate contextual analysis of social relations, gender inequalities, interests and incentives of societal actors in policy design and implementation arrangements. The course will equip students with the knowledge and skills to critically appraise how government agencies, international organisations and other actors generate and utilise evidence to design and implement policies and programmes.

The course covers evidence generation and use during three main stages of the policy cycle: policy design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. It introduces theory-based approaches and examines the use of social, gender, governance and political-economy analysis to inform policy design and implementation. It discusses the role of monitoring and evaluation in producing nuanced policy-relevant evidence.

The course draws on policies and programmes in the field of social policy and social development in both more and less developed countries. In seminars, students will review and critically assess project reports (e.g. project appraisal/completion reports) and research studies of actual policies and programmes. They will scrutinise different assessment tools developed and used by government agencies and international organisations (e.g. DFID, World Bank) for gathering policy relevant evidence.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

10 x 1.5 hour lectures (MT weeks 1-10)

10 x 1.5 seminars (MT weeks 2-11)

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.

Students will work in groups to deliver seminar presentations on assigned topics and contribute to seminar discussions. As well as enabling students to practise essential team working and presentation skills, this exercise is an important preparation for the final summative assessment. It will enable students to practise their ability to analyse and evaluate policies and programmes, prepare and present critiques, and use literature to frame and contextualise analysis.

Students will write a short individually-authored project identification report (1,000 words, MT week 7) in preparation for the summative assessment. This exercise will test their ability to use theory-based approaches, distinguish types and sources of evidence, and evaluate approaches and methods for generating evidence. Students will receive personalised feedback and suggestions for future improvement.

Indicative reading

Nutley, S. M., Walter, I. and H. T. O. Davies (2007) Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services, Policy Press: Bristol.

Funnell, S. and P. Rogers (2011) Purposeful Program Theory: effective Use of Theories of Change and Logic Models, Wiley & Sons: San Francisco.

Weiss, C. (1998) Evaluation: methods for Studying Programs and Policies, Prentice Hall: New York.

Bacchi, C. (2009) Analyzing Policy: What's the Problem Represented to Be? Pearson Australia: Frenchs Forest, N. S. W.

Holmes, R. and N. Jones (2013) Gender and Social Protection in the Developing World: Beyond Mothers and Safety Nets, Zed Books: London and New York.

Fritz, V., Levy, B. and R. Ort (2014) Problem-driven Political Economy Analysis: The World Bank's Experience, Directions in Development - Public Sector Governance, World Bank: Washington, DC.

Shah, N. B., Wang, P., Fraker, A. and D. Gastrfriend (2015) Evaluations with Impact: Decision-focused Impact Evaluation as a Practical Policymaking Tool, 3ie Working Paper 25.

Roelen, K. and L. Camfield (2015) Mixed Methods Research in Poverty and Vulnerability: Sharing Ideas and Learning Lessons, Pagrave Macmillan: London.


Essay (30%, 1500 words) in the MT.
Other (70%) in the LT.

Students will be required to complete two assignments designed to support the main learning outcomes of the course:

1. A three-part individually authored essay (30%), in which students answer pre-assigned questions, drawing on literature and course material (500 words for each answer, maximum 1,500 words in total, MT week 11). This assessment will support student learning of the main debates, issues and critiques and will help consolidate their disciplinary and methodological knowledge. It will develop the ability to recognise constraints on evidence-based policy making, and to recognise and evaluate the contribution of different assessment tools and evaluation approaches.

2. An individually-authored project appraisal report (70%) with an assessment of a real-life project, using knowledge and skills learned in the course and drawing on project design documents, evaluation reports and relevant literature (maximum 3,000 words, LT week 1). Students will be asked to re-design the project or its parts to incorporate evidence more rigorously.

This assessment is designed to enable students to apply the knowledge and skills they learned to assess the use of evidence in project design and propose arrangements to address policy weaknesses they identified. It will develop students' ability to appraise policies and programmes; evaluate, analyse, interpret and use evidence; design analytical frameworks; prepare and present written critiques; and write policy reports. This assessment is in line with the student-centred nature of the course delivery. It will allow students to exercise choice in selecting the project and offer an opportunity to carry out independent and creative work - both these features support student autonomy and tend to empower students.


Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills