MPA Capstone Project

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Babken Babajanian


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 Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), 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.

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, private sector companies, international organisations, 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.  The Capstone will enable students to develop and strengthen organisational, research and policy analysis, policy report writing, and group working skills.


4 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT.

Teaching comprises three 1.5 hour Capstone seminars in the MT.  These seminars provide guidance on planning, structuring and presenting the Capstone report.  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

Policy analysis: William N. Dunn, Public Policy Analysis: An Integrated Approach (Routledge, 2018); Eugene Bardach and Eric M. Patashnik, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis (Sage Publications, 2016); David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining, Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice (Routledge, 6th edition, 2017); Sue C. Funnell and Patricia J. Rogers, Purposeful Program Theory (Jossey-Bass, 2011); Philip H. Pollock, The Essentials of Political Analysis (CQ Press, 2016)

Report writing: John Bowden, Writing a Report 9th edition (How to Books, 2011); Stella Cottrell, Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide (Palgrave Study Skills, 2014).

Group working: Laura Lipton, Groups at Work: Strategies and Structures for Professional Learning (Miravia, 2011); Brian A. Griffith and Ethan B. Dunham, Working in Teams: Moving from High Potential to High Performance (Sage, 1st edition, 2015).


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 complete the Capstone evaluation and feedback exercise.  This will be submitted individually and separately from the report.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2018/19: 84

Average class size 2018/19: 81

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information