Not available in 2020/21
GV327      Half Unit
Governance and Corruption

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sarah Brierley CBG 4.37


This course is available on the BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.


Comfort with basic statistics as covered by Research Design in Political Science (GV249) or an equivalent course in research design or introductory statistics (such as ST102, ST107, ST108, GY140, SA201) is recommended.

Course content

The design and implementation of government policies depends on the actions and capacity of politicians and bureaucrats. For policies to be effective, they must be implemented according to programmatic criteria, while avoiding leakage. This course will overview recent theoretical and empirical work on governance, corruption and state capacity. The cases we investigate will be focused on low- and middle-income countries in South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. We will also use the historic experiences of the USA and UK to investigate paths to better governance in these countries. During the course we will explore questions such as: why do politicians and bureaucrats engage in corruption? Do multi-party elections encourage graft? Are anti-corruption bodies effective? Can technological solutions improve the delivery of public services?


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy. 

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT and 1 exercise in the Week 9.

Indicative reading

  • Golden and Fisman. 2017. Corruption: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press. 
  • Geddes, Barbara. 1994. Politician's dilemma: building state capacity in Latin America. University of California Press.
  • David Gingerich. 2013. Political Institutions and Party Directed Corruption in South America. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grindle, Merilee S. 2012. Jobs for the Boys: Patronage and the State in Comparative Perspective. Harvard University Press.
  • Anna Grzymala-Busse. 2007. Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Exploitation in Post-Communist Democracies. Cambridge University Press.
  • Svensson, Jakob. 2005. Eight Questions about Corruption, Journal of Economic Prospectives. 
  • Olken, Benjamin. Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia, Journal of Political Economy. 
  • Brierley, Sarah. 2019. Unprincipled Principals: Co-opted Bureaucrats and Corruption in Ghana. American Journal of Political Science. 
  • Gulzar, Saad, and Benjamin J. Pasquale. 2017. Politicians, bureaucrats, and development: Evidence from India." American Political Science Review 111.1. 


Essay (80%, 2500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) and memo (10%) in the LT.

Students will submit a single assessed memo on the week that they are assigned to be the class discussant. This memo should be approx. 3 pages. Criteria will be given on the info. that the memo should contain. 

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: Government

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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