Political Science for Public Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mathilde Emeriau

Dr Joachim Wehner


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Administration. This course is available 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) and MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This 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 combines 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 the key theoretical ideas.  The course also surveys a selection of current policy challenges and examines the importance of political variables in understanding and addressing these.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 60 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. 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 reading weeks in week 6 of each term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to produce one formative assignment in Michaelmas Term and a second in the Lent Term.

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%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (50%) in the MT and LT.

Application exercises will be carried out in groups and assessed on the basis of four group presentations, two each in Michaelmas Term and Lent Term


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: 111

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information