GV327      Half Unit
Governance and Corruption

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sarah Brierley CBG 4.37


This course is available on the BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy, BSc in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.


Comfort with basic statistics as covered by Research Design in Political Science (GV249) or an equivalent course in research design or introductory statistics (such as ST102, ST107, ST108, GY140, SA201) is recommended.

Course content

The design and implementation of government policies depends on the actions and capacity of politicians and bureaucrats. For policies to be effective, they must be implemented according to programmatic criteria, while avoiding leakage. This course will overview recent theoretical and empirical work on governance, corruption and state capacity. The cases we investigate will be focused on low and middle-income countries in South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. During the course we will explore questions such as: why do politicians and bureaucrats engage in corruption? Do multi-party elections encourage graft? Are anti-corruption bodies effective? Can technological solutions improve the delivery of public services?


This course is delivered through seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the Lent Term.

Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy. 

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 formative essay of 1,000 words in Week 7.

Indicative reading

  • Golden and Fisman. 2017. Corruption: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press. 
  • Geddes, Barbara. 1994. Politician's dilemma: building state capacity in Latin America. University of California Press.
  • David Gingerich. 2013. Political Institutions and Party Directed Corruption in South America. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grindle, Merilee S. 2012. Jobs for the Boys: Patronage and the State in Comparative Perspective. Harvard University Press.
  • Anna Grzymala-Busse. 2007. Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Exploitation in Post-Communist Democracies. Cambridge University Press.
  • Svensson, Jakob. 2005. Eight Questions about Corruption, Journal of Economic Prospectives. 
  • Olken, Benjamin. Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia, Journal of Political Economy. 
  • Brierley, Sarah. 2019. Unprincipled Principals: Co-opted Bureaucrats and Corruption in Ghana. American Journal of Political Science. 
  • Gulzar, Saad, and Benjamin J. Pasquale. 2017. Politicians, bureaucrats, and development: Evidence from India." American Political Science Review 111.1. 


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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