The MPA Capstone


The MPA Capstone gives students an opportunity to work on a real-world policy challenge as part of a six-month consultancy style project hosted by an external client. The Capstone is a compulsory course undertaken by all second year MPA students and is a key part of the MPA core curriculum.

The Capstone groups tackle socially relevant and topical policy issues and the contribution of MPA students is highly valued by the Capstone clients. The project is a team effort to carry out analysis and research in order to address a practical policy issue relevant to the client organisation. It allows students to extend their capabilities and apply what they have learnt in the MPA core courses in a professional manner. 

How does it work?

During the second year of study, students are assigned to groups of 3 - 6 members. Team members are strongly advised to dedicate around 1.5 - 2 days a week to the project between October and March, including some vacation time.

Each project is supervised by a member of LSE academic staff, who provides advice and monitors progress. The project earns a collective grade and students are expected to manage the division and development of work amongst themselves.

Who are our recent partners?

The MPA programme has collaborated with a diverse group of highly reputable organisations. Some of our recent partners include:

  • private sector companies: Goldman Sachs, Cambridge Economic Policy Associates, and Unilever
  • international organisations: UNDP, UNICEF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and OECD
  • NGOs and foundations: Migration Policy Institute, Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation and Fatherhood Institute
  • UK government agencies: NHS England, and the UK Competition and Markets Authority

Examples of Capstone Projects

Below is a selection of projects representing different organisations from previous academic years.

“Closing the Digital Gap in Transition Countries”, EBRD


This report details the state of broadband infrastructure among ten transition countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and estimates the infrastructure costs required to close the existing digital divide. The report identifies the channels through which digital development and broadband infrastructure in particular can lead to higher overall development. It reviews policies for enhancing digital development, such as increasing international bandwidth, building internet exchange points, improving regulatory environment, and promoting infrastructure sharing. Finally, the report estimates the level of financing needed to accelerate the digital transition in these countries and explores contextual factors that explain the distribution of broadband infrastructure costs both within and between countries.

“Reducing Pressures on Frontline Emergency Healthcare Services”, NHS England and NHS Improvement


This report discusses how to reduce existing pressures on England’s frontline healthcare services by improving patient engagement with different communication channels that are alternatives to Accident and Emergency departments (A&E). Although A&Es are intended to treat patients with life-threatening conditions, an estimated quarter of all attendances in 2017 were non-urgent. The report employs semi-structured interviews with NHS workers and a structured survey and interviews with patients to examine patients’ engagement and interaction with the NHS through various communication channels. It offers recommendations on how to strengthen communication between healthcare providers and patients, which can help relieve pressures on A&E.

“Tackling Gender Inequality in the UK: Opportunities for Impact”, Kiawah Trust


This project identifies strategies for philanthropic giving to maximise impact on gender equality in the UK. The report maps out the organisations dealing with this issue, main problems they seek to address, interventions implemented, and populations targeted as well as the main funding bodies and approaches. It proposes philanthropic strategies that can be employed for promoting gender equality, including types of partnerships, target populations, issue areas, and interventions. The study is based on a desk review of literature and primary qualitative research.

“Catalysing Women’s Labour Force Participation in Colombia”, Findeter


This Capstone evaluates how investment in care infrastructure, and particularly in childcare provision, can influence gender equality in Colombia’s labour force participation. The study assesses the disproportionate burden of care on women in Colombia and identifies findings from global literature about the potential of childcare to generate better employment opportunities for women and reduce the gender gap. It then assesses the relationship between investing in childcare infrastructure and female labour force participation, using a controlled econometric analysis. This analysis seeks to inform policies of FINDETER, one of Colombia’s national development banks that finances and executes infrastructure projects to accelerate local municipalities' growth.

“Equity and Diversity in the Central Bank of Mexico (BANXICO)”, BANXICO


The project explores opportunities for promoting greater gender equality and inclusivity at BANXICO. Drawing on a mixed-methods research, the report evaluates the extent of gender equality at the Bank and identifies strategies that can help enhance equity and diversity geared towards women.

“Gender-Responsive Child and Youth-Led Climate Change Adaptation”, Plan International


This report evaluates child and youth-led approaches to gender-responsive climate change adaptation (CCA) and loss & damage in low-income countries. It examines how children and youth-led CCA approaches seek to address gendered impacts, focusing on their achievements and existing opportunities and constraints. The report identifies the types of resources and support required to enable young people to take a leading role in gender-responsive CCA approaches. It then derives key principles for mainstreaming gender responsiveness in child and youth-led CCA action. The analysis draws on a literature review and semi-structured stakeholder interviews in five countries.