Public Policy Analysis

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Government
  • Application code SS-IR214
  • Starting 2021
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

How do politics and institutions shape public policy? How and why does policy change? How does bureaucracy work (or not), and how might it be reformed? This course addresses these questions using theories and methods of public policy analysis, with a global scope. 

This course is an introduction to theories, approaches, and methods for public policy analysis. These include how politics and institutions shape public policy, the processes of public policy change, and the challenges of public sector management. The scope of the course is global, with applications and examples from countries around the world.

The course will introduce students to fundamental social-scientific concepts like power, collective action, institutions, and accountability, as well as tools useful for evaluating policy impact and effectiveness. The course will enable students to understand the tradeoffs involved in the design of policies and institutions; the influence of factors like partisanship, policy ideas, information technology, and globalisation; as well as reforms that attempt to improve government efficiency, representation, and transparency. The course will also give students the conceptual tools to be able to analyse specific policy issue areas of their interest, and understand the complex forces that shape policy change.

Session: Three
Dates: 2 – 20 August 2021 
Lecturer: Dr Daniel Berliner


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees: Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One 1,500 word essay (worth 25% of the final grade), and one final exam on the last Friday of the third week (worth 75% of the final grade).

 Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

More information on exams and credit


At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history or law.


Programme structure

Specific topics include:

  • Market failures and public goods
  • Strategic interaction and collective choice
  • Political institutions and electoral accountability
  • Policy impact and evaluation
  • Decision-making, agenda-setting, and implementation
  • Parties, public opinion, and interest groups
  • Institutionalist theories and policy diffusion
  • Globalisation and global public policy
  • Public management and the bureaucracy
  • Gender and representation in government
  • Corruption and governance reform
  • Information technology and public policy.

Course outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Evaluate how and why public policies emerge
  • Understand the processes involved in policymaking
  • Understand how policy impact is evaluated
  • Apply critical concepts to understand challenges of public sector organization.


LSE’s Department of Government is home to some of the most internationally respected experts in politics and government, producing influential research that has a global impact on policy. The Department has always been able to take advantage of its prominent position within the London School of Economics and Political Science, the largest and most important European institution specialising solely in the social sciences. The Department has a strongly cosmopolitan character and alumni can be found in the world's leading political science departments, as well as in journalism, commerce, central and local government, and non-governmental organisations globally.

The 2014 Research Assessment Exercise ranked the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs. LSE’s Department of Government ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s government faculty.

Reading materials

Weimer, David L., and Aidan R. Vining. 2017. Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice. 6th edition. Routledge.

Kingdon, John. 2010. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd edition. Pearson.

Cairney, Paul. 2011. Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues. MacMillan.

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