Politics of Social Policy Making

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Liam Beiser-McGrath (OLD.2.50)


This course is available on the BSc in International Social and Public Policy and BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

This course is not available to third year students.

Course content

The course introduces students to the way in which social and public policies are developed. It aims to provide tools to understand how policies are produced through political disagreement and negotiations and how policies reflect different needs and problems voiced by groups in societies. It focuses on the ways in which policy processes and decision making can be analysed. The course focuses on different models that are used in the analyses of policy processes in different international contexts.

Furthermore, it links different analytical approaches to policy processes with political considerations of how political problems are framed and how policy goals are established. The course looks at these issues from the perspective of different actors and the ways in which different actors interact with each other within policy processes. The course brings together critical analytical frameworks for policy processes with empirical problems (cases). The course enables students to understand that policy processes are both about understanding society and shaping it.

Furthermore, it introduces students to the various policy actors, including international actors and how these actors work together within socio-political and economic constraints. It also highlights the importance of identifying and understanding the different value positions and the associated negotiations that underwrite policy processes.


Courses in Social Policy follow the Teaching Model outlined on the following page: https://www.lse.ac.uk/social-policy/Current-Students/teaching-in-the-department-of-social-policy


All teaching will be in accordance with the LSE Academic Code (https://info.lse.ac.uk/current-students/lse-academic-code) which specifies a "minimum of two hours taught contact time per week when the course is running in the Michaelmas and/or Lent terms". Social Policy courses are predominantly taught through a combination of in-person Lectures and In person classes/seminars. Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.


This course is taught in both MT and LT. The course is taught in a combined Lecture/Workshop format.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 4 exercises and 2 presentations in the MT and LT.

Students will be expected to produce 4 x short commentaries on specific questions and 2 presentations in the MT and LT. The best 3 of 4 commentaries will make up part of their summative assessment.

Students will be working in groups which will present short in-class exercises. Through group work and the feedback they will get throughout MT and the LT they will receive support for their poster preparations and presentations.

Indicative reading

Fischer, Frank (2010) reframing Public Policy: Discursive Politics and Deliberative Practices. London: OUP.

Hoppe, Robert (2011) The Governance of Problems: Puzzling, Powering and Participation. Bristol: Policy Press.

Kingdon, J. (1995) Agendas, alternatives and public policies, NY: Longman.

Ostrom, Elinor (2015) Governing the Commons: the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. London: CUP.

Pawson, Ray (2013) The Science of Evaluation. London: Sage.

Stone, Deborah (2012) Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. NY: Norton.


Coursework (30%, 500 words) in the MT and LT.
Presentation (25%, 500 words) in the LT.
Report (45%) in the ST.

We will assess students at three stages:

  • 4 short policy commentaries on specific questions which will be completed across the year. Students will get feedback on each and, the best of these will be taken as their 30% coursework mark
  • Students will be put into groups in MT to choose a policy area of interest and use it to link analytical discussions from the class to their own analysis of a particular policy implemented in that field. Each group is expected to produce (with the support of their teachers) a poster to discuss their analysis and to present to the class during LT. This exercise (both the production and presentation) will contribute to 25 % of their overall mark
  • Students will write a short report on their presentation and on the feedback they receive on their contribution to the poster. This is due in ST and will be the final 45% of their overall mark for the course.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 63.4
2:1 36.6
2:2 0
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2021/22: 31

Average class size 2021/22: 8

Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)

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.

Personal development skills

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