PP401      Half Unit
Political Science for Public Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joachim Wehner

Dr Mathilde Emeriau


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.


This course has no pre-requisites. 

Course content

The course will introduce students to how to understand the political context of policymaking, using the latest theoretical and empirical knowledge in modern political science.  The course will cover, among other things, political behaviour (such as voting behaviour, elections and lobbying), political institutions (such as electoral systems, parliamentary and presidential government, and central banks) and political outcomes (such as economic policies and public services).  The course will combine a review of the main empirical regularities across time and across country in each of these areas, with an introduction to key theoretical arguments about how actors interact and how institutions shape strategic behaviour, and an introduction to the latest empirical (and causal) estimation techniques for testing theoretical propositions.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 30 hours in the MT. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and classes, and office hours. This course includes a reading week in week 6 of MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one formative assignment in the MT.

Indicative reading

"Analysing Politics: Rationality, Behavior and Institutions' by Shepsle (W.W. Norton, 2010, 2nd edition) provides an excellent starting point and can be used as the main reference for many topics. A full reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course.


Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (50%).


Part 1. Group exercises (50%)

There will be two application exercises, which will be carried out in groups and assessed on the basis of group presentations. Each seminar will be divided into groups several weeks prior to a presentation. Each group will have an opportunity to receive feedback on their proposed plan for a presentation. Assessment will be as a group but there may be an individual component within the mark. 

Part 2. Essay (50%)

There will be an essay of 2000 words. The word count for the essay will include footnotes and appendices but exclude the references/bibliography. Students will be able to choose their own question.

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: School of Public Policy

Total students 2019/20: 45

Average class size 2019/20: 15

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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