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Policy Evaluation in National and International Contexts - (February starters, group #02)



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, the OECD or the UN. By systematically assessing the merits of policies, evaluations have the potential to enhance the accountability of governments to parliaments and citizens, and to enable learning that, in turn, can feed into policy development. However, evaluations are subject to political and practical constraints that can significantly affect their quality and usefulness.
This course starts by discussing the various methodological traditions of evaluation: experimental evaluation, 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 factors that affect these characteristics.

Course Objectives

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 develop appropriate evaluation methodologies for specific 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.

Assessment method

Grading for the course is based on:

  • students participation during in-class discussions and exercises (15%)

  • a vlog presentation in which students have to develop an evaluation design for a particular policy intervention (30%)

  • a final written assignment (max 5,000 words) that asks students to assess the quality of two existing evaluations (55%)
    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


See 'MyTimetable'