PP4V8E      Half Unit
Policy Paper

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Daniel Sturm and Dr Sara Hagemann

Participating students will be assigned an academic supervisor with relevant knowledge of the topic and supervision experience.


This course is available 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 the course is only available by prior agreement with the Executive MPA and Executive MPP Programme Directors.

Course content

The aim of the course is to enable students to plan, design and conduct independent analysis in an area of public policy. Executive MPA/ EMPP students will write an individually-authored policy paper of no more than 6,000 words on a topic developed in consultation with an Academic Adviser.  The paper will analyse a concrete policy problem in a specific setting and propose an evidence-based solution or course of amelioration. It must be addressed to a non-academic audience and should be clearly and directly written, suitable for consideration by policy-makers.  The main body of the paper should include methodology, results of the analysis, discussion of different policy options, conclusions and policy recommendations.  The policy paper must be accompanied by an Executive Summary.  Policy papers can utilise quantitative and/or qualitative data and draw on secondary and/or primary research.


The student's Academic Adviser will provide advice and guidance on this piece of work as required during the duration of the assessment.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the MT, LT and ST.

A policy paper proposal (of no more than 750 words in total) consisting of the title, abstract, research question, justification for analysis, feasibility of the topic, an explanation of sources, structure and analytical framework must be submitted well in advance of the assessment deadline.  Students may only change their topic thereafter with the agreement of the Academic Adviser/ Programme Directors.  Students will be given feedback on their proposal.

Indicative reading

A suitable programme of reading will be developed in consultation with the Academic Adviser. Useful background readings may include: 

  • Eugene Bardach, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving, 4th ed. (CQ Press, 20121);
  • Catherine F. Smith, Writing Public Policy: A Practical Guide to Communicating in the Policy Making Process, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012). 
  • Charles Lindblom and David K. Cohen, Usable Knowledge: Social Science and Social Problem Solving (Yale University Press, 1979).
  • Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton University Press, 2006).


Policy paper (100%) in the MT, LT and ST.

  • 6,000 word policy paper

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

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Specialist skills