PP419      Half Unit
Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Daniel Sturm


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Sciences Po), 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 available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


The expectation is that MPA students will have previously taken PP440 and PP455 or other equivalent courses. The expectation for other students (including MPA Dual Degree students spending Year 2 at LSE) is that they will have prior learning in micro and macro economics, some quantitative methods of analysis, and will require permission from the course lecturer to attend the course.

Course content

This course provides an advanced treatment of the empirical methods that are used to evaluate the effectiveness of public policies. The course builds closely on the course Quantitative Approaches and Policy Analysis (PP455) and also Micro and Macroeconomics for Public Policy (PP440). Topics covered include the problem of causality, the theory and practice of randomised experiments, difference-in-differences, synthetic controls, regression discontinuity, robust and clustered standard errors, and calibration.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 29 hours across Michaelmas Term. 

Formative coursework

The formative coursework will comprise a graded problem set.

Indicative reading

There is no single textbook for the course and many of the key readings are journal articles. James Stock and Mark Watson "Introduction to Econometrics'' remains a useful reference particularly for the material at the beginning of the course. A very good source for background reading is Joshua Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke "Mastering 'Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect''.  A full reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.
Project (25%, 2000 words) in the LT.

The project will be due in early Lent Term.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20.6
Merit 44.5
Pass 31
Fail 3.9

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2021/22: 34

Average class size 2021/22: 11

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (MT)

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

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