Policy Incubator

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Anderson CBG 6.05


This course is available on the MSc in European and International Public Policy and MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is not available as an outside option.


Students must have completed Engaging with Europe: Professional Skills (EU450) and Evidence and Analysis in Policy-Making (EU490).

The Policy Incubator is a project available to students on the MSc European and International Public Policy who wish to research a current policy issue instead of submitting a dissertation.

Course content

Student will work on an applied research project related to a public policy problem in lieu of a dissertation. This policy problem can be situated at the international, European, national, or sub-national level. Thematically, it can be related to a  wide range of policy fields (e.g., international trade, social policy, environmental policy, or justice and home affairs and migration). The workshops will cover theories and the practice of policy-making as well as overviews of different styles and types of policy analysis writings and dissemination. Students will have regular meetings with their supervisors. While working on the Policy Incubator, students will be able to draw on the methodological skills they acquire in EU490 (Evidence and Analysis in Policy-Making) and on the practical writing and communication skills taught in EU450 (Europe: Professional Skills). Students will produce a set of two applied policy papers: a policy advocacy brief and a policy study.


This course is delivered through workshops totalling a minimum of 5 hours across both the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.  Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person and/or virtual help sessions with an assigned Supervisor, as well as student presentations. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of the Michaelmas and Lent Terms

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 condensed summary of the policy brief and 1 presentation in the LT.

Indicative reading

Useful preliminary reading:

Charles E. Lindblom and David K. Cohen, Social Science and Social Problem Solving (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979;

Martha S. Feldman, Order Without Design: Information Production and Policy-making (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989);

Ray Pawson, Evidence-based Policy: A Realist Perspective (London: Sage, 2006);

Howard White, Theory-based Impact Evaluation: Principles and Practice (3ie, 2011);

Curtis Cook, Just Enough Project Management (McGraw-Hill, 2004);

J. E. McGrath and F. Tschan, 'Dynamics in Groups and Teams: Groups as Complex Action Systems', chapter three in M. S. Poole and A. H. Van de Ven (eds) Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (Oxford University Press, 2004).


Policy brief (30%) in the ST Week 1.
Policy paper (70%) post-summer term.

The assessment consists of two parts:

1. A 3,000 word policy brief; policy advocacy for the solution to a specific policy problem in/for the real world (not a theoretical or empirical question suitable for a conventional academic dissertation)

2. A 7,000 word policy study; exploring policy options and engaging in policy analysis

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2019/20: 13

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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