PP450      Half Unit
Making governments and policies deliver for development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Adnan Khan


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), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.



Course content

The course will offer students the analytical frameworks and practitioners’ knowhow for understanding the challenges of design and implementation of public policies, especially in developing countries. The focus will be on diagnosing intractable public policy problems that these states and public sectors often face and reasons why it is so difficult to deliver transformative and sustainable change on the ground.

The course will draw primarily on institutional economics, particularly principal-agent theory, and political economy to understand these challenges of policy design and implementation. Central to the approach is the interplay between politics, policies, bureaucratic performance, and implementation. This is captured by the ‘strategic triangle’ concept that focuses on policy options that are technically correct, politically supportable, and implementable in varying contexts.

The course has an applied focus, and will use a systematic and structured framework to identify pressing policy problems, diagnose the underlying causes of these problems using evidence, and design, test, implement and refine policy innovations. There will be a lot of emphasis on diagnosing and dealing with the challenges of policy implementation and political authorisation and the skill sets needed to address these challenges.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 3 presentations in the LT.

Indicative reading

Key readings:

• Andrews, M., L. Pritchett & M Woolcock. (2017). Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action. Oxford University Press.

• Matt Andrews. 2013. “The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development.” Cambridge University Press.

• Thomas B. Pepinsky, Jan H. Perskalla, and Audrey Sacks. 2017. “Bureaucracy and Service Delivery”. Annual Review Political Science. 20:249-68.

• Ernesto Dal Bo and Frederico Finan. 2016. “At the Intersection: A Review of Institutions in Economic Development”. EDI Working Paper Series WP16/11.01

• Cristina Corduneanu-Huc, Alexander Hamilton and Issel Masses Ferrer. 2012. “Understanding Policy Change: How to Apply Political Economy Concepts in Practice.” Washington D.C.: World Bank Publications.

• Carden, Fred. 2009. “Knowledge to Policy: Making the Most of Development Research.” International Development Research Centre, Sage Publications, Ottawa.

• World Bank Policy Research Report. 2016. “Making Politics Work for Development: Harnessing Transparency and Citizen Engagement”. World Bank Group, Washington D.C.


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the period between LT and ST.
Policy memo (30%) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) in the LT Week 11.

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

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