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IR214: Public Policy Analysis

Subject Area: International Relations, Government, Psychology and Society

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Course details

  • Department
    Department of Government
  • Application code
Session oneNot running in 2024
Session twoNot running in 2024
Session threeOpen - 29 Jul 2024 - 16 Aug 2024


Applications are open

We are accepting applications. Apply early to avoid disappointment.


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, lobbying, 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.

Key information

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

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 (25%), and one final exam (75%).

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

Please note: 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

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. 


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

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

  • Apply conceptual tools to specific policy issues and political contexts 
  • Understand how policy impact is evaluated at local and international levels

  • Analyse the causes, potential, and effectiveness of policy reforms using real-world examples


Jonathan Tam, Canada

The fundamentals of my course are covered at my home institution, but the summer school course gives me an extra breadth into how the industry works. It’s been a really good experience in diversifying my skill set.


The design of this course is guided by LSE faculty, as well as industry experts, who will share their experience and in-depth knowledge with you throughout the course.

Michael Lerner

Dr Michael Lerner

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy


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 3rd in the world for Politics in the 2023 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.


Applications are open

We are accepting applications. Apply early to avoid disappointment.