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Policy Evaluation in Practice


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.


Policy evaluation can have different goals and shapes. In this course –while focusing on safety and security issues– we will discuss methods to evaluate policy at differences phases, i.e. before implementation (ex-ante), during implementation (process) and after implementation (ex-post, cost-benefit analysis, systematic review). Special interest goes out to ex-ante evaluation on the theoretical foundations why policy would work and what unintended consequences could be expected (programme theory), and to ways of assessing a programme’s effectiveness (mostly via quasi-experiments and natural experiments). Using evaluation studies conducted by governmental bodies (e.g. Netherlands Court of Audit, Dutch Safety Board), we will take an in-depth look at the research choices made in real life made by evaluators, the practical barriers they face to determine the impact of policy, and how to deal with those barriers.

In its slipstream, we will discuss an array of relevant topics, such as pros and cons of qualitative and quantitative methods in evaluation research, policy reactions to evaluation studies, and issues with respect to independent judgment by researchers.

As such, the course aims to give you an inside look at policy evaluation and to see how theoretical issues in policy evaluation are translated into practice.

Course Objectives

Students who have finished this course are able to;

  1. Compare, based on advanced knowledge and understanding the different options available for policy evaluation and to choose and argue which strategy is to be preferred given the available resources and research questions;
  2. Reflect, based on advanced knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, which type of evaluation is needed given the research question at hand;
  3. Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of past evaluation research, from a conceptual, theoretical and methodological viewpoint.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

This course consists of seven seminars including guest lectures and working group sessions.
Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

Total study load 140 hours:

  • 21 Contact hours

  • 119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.

Assessment method

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

  1. Mid-term individual paper – 30% of total grade
    Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  2. Final individual paper – 70% of total grade
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 70% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrolment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. Johan van Wilsem