Political Science for Public Policy

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mathilde Emeriau

Dr Joachim Wehner


This course is compulsory on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto) and Master of Public Administration. 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) and MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places after students for whom it is compulsory have been accommodated (it is controlled access). Priority is given to students from the School of Public Policy, students from other programmes will be considered if places remain.

Course content

This course will introduce students to how to understand the political context of policymaking, using the latest theoretical and empirical knowledge in modern political science.  The course will cover, among other things, political behaviour (such as voting behaviour, elections and lobbying), political institutions (such as electoral systems, parliamentary and presidential government and central banks) and political outcomes (such as economic policies and public services).  The course combines a review of the main empirical regularities across time and across country in each of these areas, with an introduction to key theoretical arguments about how actors interact and how institutions shape strategic behaviour, and an introduction to the latest empirical (and causal) estimation techniques for testing the key theoretical ideas.  The course also surveys a selection of current policy challenges and examines the importance of political variables in understanding and addressing these.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 60 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. 

Formative coursework

Students are expected to produce one formative assignment in Michaelmas Term and a second in the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

  • W.R.Clark, M. Golder and S.N.Golder (2018), 'Principles of Comparative Politics', Third Edition, CQ Press. 
  • E. Bueno de Mesquita (2016), Political Economy for Public Policy, Princeton University Press


These books provide excellent starting points and can be used as references for many topics. A full reading list will be provided at the beginning of the course.


Online assessment (60%) in the ST.
Assignment (40%) in the MT and LT.


Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.1
Merit 78.2
Pass 6.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2021/22: 86

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One 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.