Public Policy Analysis

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Government
  • Application code SS-IR214
  • Starting 2022
  • 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, and how might it be reformed? These are some of the important questions this course addresses using theories and methods of public policy analysis using a global lens.

Designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to theories, approaches, and methods for public policy analysis, this course examines how politics and institutions shape public policy, the processes of public policy change, and the challenges of public sector management. Engaging with cutting edge research you will be introduced to fundamental social-scientific concepts like power, collective action, institutions, and accountability and in line with LSE’s uniquely global perspective you will consider their application using examples from countries around the world.

A specific focus of the course will be on providing you with useful tools for evaluating policy impact and effectiveness. As a result, you will understand the tradeoffs involved in the design of policies and institutions; the influence of factors like partisanship, policy ideas, and globalisation. You will also examine the effectiveness of reforms that attempt to improve government efficiency and representation, accelerate transitions to sustainability, and govern rapidly emerging technologies. By the end of the course you will have the conceptual tools to be able to analyse specific policy issue areas and understand the complex forces that shape policy change.

Session: Three
Dates: 1 August - 19 August 2022
Lecturer: Dr Michael Lerner


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 but may be required for credit by your home institution. Your home institution will be able to advise how you can meet their credit requirements.

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment.


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


Key topics

  • Market failures and public goods

  • Strategic interaction and collective choice

  • Institutional design and public policy

  • Policy impact and evaluation

  • Agenda-setting and implementation

  • Interest groups and corporate responses to policy

  • Elections and accountability

  • Policy diffusion and globalization

  • Bureaucratic control and power

  • Incentives and representation in government

  • Policy for (and against) fossil fuel transitions

  • Emerging technology issues: Cryptocurrency, synthetic biology, and space policy

Programme structure and assessment

This course is delivered as a combination of lectures, class discussions and readings. Due to the topical nature of the content, students are expected to prepare the necessary readings before class in order to participate fully in discussions between faculty and peers.

The course is assessed through a 1,500 word written essay (25%) and a final examination (75%). A mock examination will be held during the course to help students prepare for the final examination and test their understanding of the content.

Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Course outcomes

  • Understand fundamental theories, approaches and methods for public policy analysis

  • Evaluate how and why public policies emerge and the processes involved in policy making

  • Understand how policy impact is evaluated at local and international levels

  • Analyse the effectiveness of policy reforms that aim to improve government efficiency and representation, accelerate transitions to sustainability, and govern rapidly-emerging technologies using real-world examples

  • Use conceptual tools to analyse specific policy issues and the ability of policy makers to shape change

Is this course right for you?

This course is suitable if you want to develop a comprehensive understanding of the role of public policy development in creating sustained change at a local and international level. It will also appeal if you want to delve deeper into the complex dynamics between governments, international organisations, and civil organisations. If you are targeting a role in government, public policy, journalism or research you should consider this course. 

Your department

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 development. The Department ranked 5th in the world for Politics and International Studies in the 2020 QS World University Rankings.

With a strongly cosmopolitan character, 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. A long-standing commitment to remaining at the cutting edge of developments in the field ensures that students within the Department are equipped with the necessary analytical skills to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

Your faculty

Dr Michael Lerner
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Department of Government

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 Policy. 2nd edition. Pearson.
Cairney, Paul. 2011. Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues. MacMillan.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme
**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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