PP4V8      Half Unit
Policy Paper

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Babken Babajanian and LSE LIFE


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), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.

MPA students may not take both this course and an MPA Dissertation. This course is only available to MPA students during the second year of their programme.

Course content

The aim of the course is to enable students to plan, design and conduct independent research in an area of public policy. Students will write an individually-authored policy paper of no more than 6,000 words on a topic developed in consultation with their Academic Mentor.  The paper will carry out an evidence-based assessment of a concrete policy issue or problem in a specific setting and provide a practical contribution to policy and practice.  The main body of the paper should include methodology, results of the analysis, discussion of findings, conclusions and policy recommendations.  The policy paper must be accompanied by an Executive Summary.  Policy papers can utilise quantitative and/or qualitative data and information and draw on secondary and/or primary sources.


This course is delivered through help sessions totalling a minimum of 4 hours and 30 minutes in Michaelmas Term and 1 hour and 30 minutes in Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through virtual participatory seminars complemented with short lectures delivered as online recordings.

These sessions provide academic and practical guidance on planning and writing the policy paper and offer an opportunity to ask questions.  The student's Academic Mentor will provide advice and guidance on this piece of work.

Formative coursework

A policy paper proposal (of no more than 750 words in total) consisting of the title, abstract, research question, research justification, feasibility of the topic, an explanation of sources, proposed research design and methods, and provisional structure must be submitted in the MT.  Students may only change their topic thereafter with the agreement of their Academic Mentor.  Students will be given feedback on their proposal.

Indicative reading

Writing guidance:

  • Stella Cottrell, Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide (Palgrave Study Skills, 2014);
  • Diana Ridley, The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students (SAGE Study Skills Series, 2008);
  • Christopher Hart, Doing a Literature Review (SAGE Study Skills Series, 2018);
  • Sharon M. Ravitch and J. Matthew Riggan, Reason and Rigor; How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research, 2nd edition (Sage Publications, 2016)

Research methods:

  • Catherine Hakim, Research Design; Successful Designs for Social Economics Research, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2000);
  • Joseph A. Maxwell, Qualitiative Research Design (3rd edition, Sage, 2013);
  • Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, 5th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2015);
  • David Partington, Essential Skills for Management Research (Sage Publications, 2002).


Policy paper (100%) in the ST.

  • 6,000 word policy paper.

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: 27

Average class size 2019/20: 26

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information