PP455E      Half Unit
Empirical Methods for Public Policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Daniel Sturm and Dr Michael Callen


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


There are no formal pre-requisites, but recommended advance readings will be distributed ahead of the course. Familiarity with the material covered in the EMPA/ EMPP Introduction to Statistics module is assumed.

Course content

The course introduces students to the quantitative evaluation of public policies. The focus of the course is on practical applications of techniques to test the effectiveness of public policy interventions. The course begins with an overview over the key benefits of randomized experiments in the evaluation of public policies. Next the course covers a number of techniques that are widely used in the evaluation of public policies, including difference-in-differences regressions, regression discontinuity approaches and matching. It concludes with an introduction to cost-benefit analysis.


A one-week modular teaching block. This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures delivered in one week. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and lectures delivered as online videos.

Formative coursework

One mock examination will be provided.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course.


Project (50%, 2000 words) and online assessment (50%).

Please note that online assessments take place on the third Friday after module teaching concludes. The project will consist of a 2,000 word data analysis exercise due on the sixth Sunday after module teaching concludes. Further details will be provided at the Executive MPA/ Executive MPP programme inductions.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills