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Regular version of the site

Policy Analysis

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


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

  • engages with normative aspects of policy design, including strategies to mainstream rights, evidence-based, and gender- and conflict-sensitive approaches
  • 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
  • writes about public policy for different audiences
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction: why are we here?
  • Developing as a Policy Analyst: Designing Interventions and Writing Policy Papers
  • What are public policies and why do (not) we want to analyze them? What are public policy problems?
  • Why State: state’s role in making public policies. “Carrots, Sermons and Sticks”
  • The Essential: The Policy Cycle approach to public policy studies
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Policy Transfer and Diffusion
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Evidence-Based Policy-Making or Policy-Based Evidence-Making?
  • Agenda-Setting: Punctuated Equilibrium Theory
  • Agenda Setting: Multiple Streams Framework
  • Policy Formulation & Shaping: Advocacy Coalition Framework
  • Policy Legitimation: stakeholders’ engagement, input and output legitimacy
  • Policy Implementation: Bureaucracy and Compliance
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Policy Evaluation: Where the Money Goes
  • The Changing Landscape of Public Policy: Multi-level Governance
  • Policy-making in Russia
  • “Speaking Truth to Power”: Policy Advisory Systems
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 Peer-review
    After the policy paper is submitted, each student is randomly assigned a policy paper by another team for review. In the review, they must acknowledge the strengths, point out the weaknesses of the paper, and outline suggestions on how the text can be improved. Students are expected to write at least 1,500 characters with spaces. If the threshold is not met, the review automatically receives a grade of 1.
  • 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

  • 2021/2022 4th module
    0.15 * Peer-review + 0.2 * Tests + 0.2 * In-class participation + 0.1 * MOOC quizzes + 0.1 * Exam + 0.25 * Policy paper (team project)


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