PP401      Half Unit
Political Science for Public Policy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joachim Wehner

Dr Mathilde Emeriau


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.


This course has no pre-requisites. 

Course content

The course will introduce students to how to understand the political context of policymaking, using the latest theoretical and empirical knowledge in modern political science.  The course will cover, among other things, 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 will combine 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 theoretical propositions.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading

Analysing Politics by Shepsle and Bonchek (W.W. Norton, 2010, 2nd edition) 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.


Essay (30%, 2000 words) and online assessment (50%) in the LT.
Presentation (20%).

Part 1. Group Application (20%)

There will be an application exercise, which will be presented and assessed. The application will be carried out in groups, and will be assessed on the basis of the group presentation. Each seminar group will be divided into three groups (of approximately 5 students) several weeks prior to the presentation. Each group will have an opportunity to receive feedback on their proposed plan for the presentation. Assessment will be as a group but there may be an individual component within the mark. 

Part 2. Essay (30%)

There will be an essay of 2,000 words. The word count for the essay will include footnotes and appendices but exclude references/bibliography. Students will be able to choose their own question.

Part 3. Online assessment (50%)

The online assessment will be administered via Moodle on a day of week 0 of Lent Term to be co-ordinated each year with other courses of the MPP degree with assessments at this time of year. Students will have a fixed window (e.g. 12-hour or 24-hours) within which to access the assignment questions and to respond to them. Once they have logged into Moodle and downloaded the questions students will have 2 hours to prepare and upload their answers. No outside research will be required. Questions will be based on topics covered in lectures and seminars. There will be two parts to the online assessment which carry equal weight: (1) a compulsory “short questions” section; (2) one essay question from a list of 6 questions.

Please note that for the online assessment, extra time can be granted as a standard request for students with inclusion plans or who otherwise would need individual examination adjustments.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: 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