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Regular version of the site

Introduction to Policy Analysis

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
3 year, 3, 4 module


Shamiev, Kirill

Course Syllabus


This mandatory course examines the policy process in different political and geographical contexts. The course considers how policy problems are identified and framed, and how interventions are formed and evaluated. Through lectures and interactive seminars based on core literature, policy material and a project exercise, students learn and apply key concepts in policy studies, get first knowledge of the policy cycle from initiation to implementation and evaluation, and examine the actors, interests and institutions (domestic and external) that shape policy processes and outcomes. Different traditions in policy analysis and normative aspects of the policy process are critically examined, including Russia-specific factors of policymaking. The course consists of three parts. The first part seeks to reveal what the state is and what public policies are. The second part concentrates on the main theories and models of policy studies and traces them through the virtual policy cycle. The third part focuses on the practical and managerial aspects of policy analysis, e.g. what skills, personal traits, and knowledge a successful policy analyst has to have. The course concludes with a brief overview of the topics and students’ reflections on the subject. The course is accompanied by 'International organizations management' MOOC at Coursera adding a global governance dimension to the discussion. This is not an easy course, so students are strongly recommended to organize their schedule in advance and be ready for a significant amount of readings.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The goal of the course is to teach students to analyze the policy process with the use of different theories as well as to give them a basic understanding of policy evaluation methods and principles.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • identifies policy problems and critically engage with them with various analytical tools and methods
  • understands key concepts in policy studies and apply them to/in specific problems/contexts
  • engages with normative aspects of policy design, including strategies to mainstream rights, evidence-based, and gender- and conflict-sensitive approaches
  • writes about public policy for different audiences
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction: why are we here?
    Course structure, grading policies. What is Policy Analysis and who are policy analysts?
  • Developing as a Policy Analyst: Designing Interventions and Writing Policy Papers
    Intervention designs. How to write good policy papers.
  • What are public policies and why do (not) we want to analyze them? What are public policy problems?
    The notions of public policy and a policy problem. Features of policy problems. The social construction of policy problems.
  • Why State: state’s role in making public policies. “Carrots, Sermons and Sticks”
    State's role in making public policies. Types of public policies.
  • The Essential: The Policy Cycle approach to public policy studies
    Policy cycle model. Stages of the policy cycle. Policy cycle as descriptive and prescriptive model.
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Policy Transfer and Diffusion
    Policy Transfer, policy diffusion, policy learning
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Evidence-Based Policy-Making or Policy-Based Evidence-Making?
    Evidence-based policy-making, the problem of evidence manipulation, values in evidence-based policy analysis.
  • Decision Making and Policy Change: Punctuated Equilibrium Theory
    Punctuated equilibrium theory and analysis of budget spendings.
  • Agenda Setting: Multiple Streams Framework
    Multiple Streams Framework. Problem, Policy, and Politics streams. Coupling. Policy entrepreneurs.
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Advocacy Coalition Framework
    Advocacy Coalition Framework. Advocacy coalitions, beliefs and their levels, coalitional resources.
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Policy Evaluation: Where the Money Goes
    Quantitative and qualitative tools in policy evaluation.
  • Policy Legitimation: Iron Triangle, Issue Networks, Policy Communities and Public Opinion
    Policy legitimation
  • Policy Implementation: Bureaucracy and Compliance
    The role of bureaucracy in policy implementation, bureaucratic stimuli. Barriers to compliance.
  • The Changing Landscape of Public Policy: Multi-level Governance
    The concept of multi-level governance (MLG). MLG (ideal) types. Private governance. The role of businesses and NGOs in policy formulation and implementation. Co-governance and co-production.
  • Policy-making in Russia
    Policy-making process in Russia. Factors of successful reforms.
  • “Speaking Truth to Power”: Policy Advisory Systems
    The role of policy advisors in policy-making. Policy Advisory Systems.
  • Public Policy as a Subject and a Profession: Who is a Good Policy Analyst
    How to be a good policy analyst? Skills and competencies.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-class participation
    Students are expected to attend each seminar and regularly participate in discussions. The instructor grades the participation during the seminars based on the quality of answers, demonstration of engagement with the assigned readings and home tasks, and overall quantitative involvement in the in-class activities.
  • non-blocking Tests
    There will be two tests covering the material of the preceding lectures and seminars. The tests will include multiple-choice questions as well as open questions. The dates of the tests will be announced in advance.
  • non-blocking Policy paper (team project)
    During the course, students are to prepare a team project — a policy paper advising a governmental or non-governmental body on a topic of the students’ choice. Papers define a clear policy problem (policy failure), are characterized both by empirical and analytical rigor, and provide persuasive policy recommendations on the chosen topic. The paper must analyze the background of a certain policy decision (why and how the government decided to do what it did), why the status quo is problematic, and what can be done to solve the problem.
  • blocking Exam
    The final exam is in a written form and contains both multiple-choice and open questions.
  • non-blocking Comments on assigned readings and a policy paper
    Students are expected to post at least two substantial comments under the reading assigned to each seminar. Group discussions are highly encouraged. The Perusall platform (perusall.com) will be used for this purpose. After the submission of the policy papers, each student is assigned a policy paper written by their classmates to comment on.
  • non-blocking MOOC quizzes
    Students are expected to attend the MOOC “International organizations management” at the Coursera platform and to take quizzes after each class.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.1 * Comments on assigned readings and a policy paper + 0.15 * Exam + 0.2 * In-class participation + 0.1 * MOOC quizzes + 0.25 * Policy paper (team project) + 0.2 * Tests


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Cairney, P. (2016). The Politics of Evidence-Based Policy Making. New York: Palgrave Pivot. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1203451
  • Thissen, W. A. H., & Walker, W. E. (2013). Public Policy Analysis : New Developments. New York: Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=537663

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Shapiro, S. (2016). Analysis and Public Policy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1194861