Whereas the course ‘Politics of Policy-Making: National and International Challenges’ addresses the processes of agenda-setting, decision-making and implementation, this course focuses entirely on the final step in the policy process: evaluation. Evaluation is an increasingly important topic for both national governments and international organizations like the EU and the OECD. By systematically assessing the merits of policies, evaluations have the potential to help governments to improve their day-to-day activities. Evaluations can also enhance the accountability of governments to parliaments and citizens, can cause long-term learning and can be used for a variety of strategic reasons.
This course starts by discussing the various methodological traditions of evaluation: the classical experiment, responsive evaluation, performance management and realist evaluation. Students are then introduced to the historical practice of policy evaluation in the EU and the Netherlands, and to the concept of evaluation systems. The final part of the course discusses the methodological quality and practical usefulness of policy evaluations and the various political and practical factors that affect these characteristics.
Upon the successful completion of the course, the students should be able to:
1) Explain the importance of policy evaluation using academic concepts.
2) Identify different types of existing evaluations and select appropriate evaluation methodologies for other policies and programs.
3) Understand the main goals and actors involved in policy evaluation, based on examples from the European Union and the Netherlands.
4) Assess the quality of policy evaluations, both in terms of their methodological robustness and their practical usefulness.
5) Grasp the potential influence of political and practical factors on evaluation quality.
Methods of instruction and communication
The course consists of seminars in which students' active participation is required. Students are expected to read the assigned literature before the seminars and to prepare assignments about this literature when requested.
Grading for the course is based on one final written assignment (max 5,000 words) that asks students to assess the quality of existing evaluations (worth 55% of the final grade), as well as two presentations (an individual vlog presentation worth 30% and an in-class group presentation worth 15%) and participation during in-class discussions and exercises.
More details about the written assignment, as well as expectations for the presentations and participation, will be provided during the course.
The students are required to come prepared to the seminars and read the literature listed under each of the meetings in the syllabus. The course will mainly make use of scholarly articles, which are available through the university library (e-journals). Some articles are open-access, in which case you will find a link next to the assigned article.
Students that have started their MSc in September 2021, enroll for group #01
Students that start their MSc in February 2022, enroll for group #02