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Institutions of Governance and Development


Admission requirements



Global challenges are nearly all at some level issues of governance and development. Why are some countries poor while others are wealthy? Why do well-established seemingly well-functioning countries not tackle serious challenges like climate change more aggressively? Why are human rights enforced by governments in some countries, while not in others? Why are some diverse communities pacific and cooperative, while others are divisive and violent? As a foundational course of the Governance, Economics, and Development major (as well as the Policy Science, and ID majors), this course aims to provide students with a foundational understanding of how to tackle these questions.

This course does this by introducing students to the institutional perspective, which focuses on the formal and informal rules that structure human interaction. This framework can provide powerful insights into these questions as evaluating the institutional foundations of decisions within and development of communities across time provides strong testable inferences about the origins of problems.

More importantly, perhaps, the institutional perspective suggest an avenue by which we can look for solutions to these challenges because many institutions are of intentional human design, and thus can be designed differently. In other cases, a scientific understanding of the constraints facing human individuals may not point the way to solutions, but at least suggest which solutions are unlikely to work or worse, may have less desirable consequences.

By exploring these themes, students who enroll in this course will be presented with, and asked to critically engage with many if not most of the themes of the Governance, Economics, and Development programme in a unified framework.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define the key concepts of the new institutional framework for studying social processes and change.

  • Differentiate the processes of governance and development in terms of these concepts.

  • Apply key concepts and frameworks for evaluating the role of institution in shaping governance outcomes or development processes to a specific case.

  • Communicate familiarity with basic methodological issues of evaluating institutional analyses of governance and development questions.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Specific instructors will conduct the course in different ways – balancing lectured/recorded material and seminar based discussion. Please inquire with the instructor in whose course you plan on enrolling. Generally, participation in class discussion will play a large role in the course.

This is particularly true this year as public health conditions change.

Students are highly recommended to form discussion groups outside of class to review and discuss the readings.

Assessment Method

  • 15% participation

  • 20% Weekly quizzes (5% each)

  • 15% Application presentation and discussion leadership

  • 15% in-class midterm essay ( 1 hour)

  • 15% synthetic reflection essay

  • 20% Application paper

Reading list

North, Douglas. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Brandon Zicha (convener),


There will be readings distributed by the first week of class. Students will also receive a reading list suggesting sources that will help you familiarize yourself with certain basic economic principles that will help with but not be required to understand elements early in the course.

Students will receive reading for the first meeting via Brightspace after enrolling. Please e-mail the instructor If you have not heard from the instructor as the first session approaches so that he may personally send them to you.