GV4K1 Half Unit
Transparency and Accountability in Government
This information is for the 2020/21 session.
Dr Daniel Berliner
This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Political Science and Political Economy, MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Public Policy and Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course is capped at 2 groups. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 29 September 2020. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.
Is “sunlight the best disinfectant”? Can information empower citizens to hold their government accountable? How have information technologies been used to enable civic engagement and participation? What are the relationships between transparency, secrecy, corruption, and accountability?
This course will familiarise students with the theory and practice of transparency and accountability in government, enabling them to critically address these questions and engage meaningfully in fast-moving contemporary policy debates.
The course will offer a grounding in theories of democracy, representation, and accountability, as well as debates over the merits of different transparency policies in light of competing values like secrecy and privacy. The course will also enable students to evaluate the role played by different forms of information in political systems, as well as to critically assess the theories of change and assumptions behind information-based policy initiatives, and to evaluate the evidence base supporting such initiatives.
The course has a global scope, focusing on applications in both developed and developing countries, and on policy types including freedom of information, information-based regulation, participatory budgeting, crowdsourced policymaking, “civic tech,” open data, campaign finance and asset disclosures, and applications of transparency to sectors like extractive industries, the environment, and public health.
This course is delivered through a combination of seminars, lectures and workshops totalling a minimum of 25 hours in the Lent Term and 4 hours (for a presentation session) in the Summer Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures, workshops and seminars. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of LT.
Students will be expected to produce one formative essay of 1,000 words in the LT.
- Fung, Archon. 2013. "Infotopia: Unleashing the democratic power of transparency." Politics & Society 41(2): 183-212.
- Schedler, Andreas. 1999. “Conceptualizing accountability.” In The self-restraining state: Power and accountability in new democracies, Schedler, Andreas, Larry Diamond, and Marc F. Plattner, eds. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
- Fox, Jonathan A. "Social accountability: what does the evidence really say?" World Development 72 (2015): 346-361.
- Stasavage, David. 2004. “Open-door or closed-door? Transparency in domestic and international bargaining.” International Organization 58(4): 667-703.
- Tan, Yeling. 2014. "Transparency without democracy: The unexpected effects of China's environmental disclosure policy." Governance 27(1): 37-62.
- Ackerman, John M., and Irma E. Sandoval-Ballesteros. "The global explosion of freedom of information laws." Administrative Law Review 58 (2006): 85.
- Berliner, Daniel, 2014. “The political origins of transparency.” The Journal of Politics, 76(2), 479-491.
- Gonçalves, Sónia. "The effects of participatory budgeting on municipal expenditures and infant mortality in Brazil." World Development 53 (2014): 94-110.
- Worthy, Ben. 2015. “The impact of open data in the UK: Complex, unpredictable, and political.” Public Administration, 93(3), 788-805.
- Roberts, Alasdair. 2012. "WikiLeaks: the illusion of transparency." International Review of Administrative Sciences 78(1): 116-133.
Essay (90%, 3000 words) and presentation (10%) in the ST.
The assessment consists of:
- A research essay, of 3000 words, in the ST.
- A case study presentation in the ST.
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.
Total students 2019/20: 16
Average class size 2019/20: 16
Controlled access 2019/20: Yes
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Specialist skills