nl en

State of the Art: Public Policy*


General learning goals

This course aims to enlarge your conceptual, integrative and reflective skills when analyzing public policy. You will literally read today’s and tomorrow’s news on problems and policy in a different way after this course.

The three main goals are that you can: – Understand the difference between a market and a ‘polis’ approach to public policy, and what are the consequences of this difference; – Reproduce how policies are socially constructed, by looking at goals of policy makers, the portrayal of problems, and the way solutions are presented; – Apply the central concepts in this course to real world cases.

Problems and policy ideas come and go. Decisions are made, or clear decisions are avoided. And such policy decisions are implemented or find trouble on their path. Policies may be successful, but often something goes different from what was expected. Political intentions founder in conflict, or sudden events crease a sense of urgency that require a reorientation on existing policies.
How can all this be understood? For this, you need a conceptual lens for looking at the world of policy making. Such lenses are developed and used in all disciplines, and public policy is no exception. This course introduces you to the field of public policy and policy analysis, a field that will become your homeland if you aspire a career in policy development, advice or evaluation. At front stage are the questions what elected or nonelected policy makers do with policy problems. Which issues are addressed, which ignored, how does this happen, and why?
Of course, the definition of public problems and the search for solutions is not a monopoly of government institutions. Governance usually is a mixture of the state, the market, and civil society. The goal is thus to orient you on the playground in which policies emerge. In this course we examine key elements of policy dynamics, such as the rise and fall of images of problems, agenda building, policy change on short and long term, implementation and its pitfalls, and the strategic timing and use of policy evaluation.

The book used in this course is the award-winning Policy Paradox, and it provides you with a conceptual lens on public policy, and introduces a vocabulary that helps you to better understand how problems and policies come and go.


  1. Orientation on the content and foundations of various areas of public administration
  2. Academic skills
  3. Professional skills


Dr. Arco. Timmermans and mrs. Petya Alexandrova (Montesquieu Instituut/Campus Den Haag)

Teaching format

Weekly seminars, group work on assignments

Course material

Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox. The Art of political Decision Making, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2001 (revised edition).
Additional material will be mostly collected by students in group assignments.


Group assignments presented during seminar meetings (40% of your final individual grade)
A written exam (60% of your final individual grade)

Required level

(submission to master)

Wednesday 7/9 t/m 19/10
7/9 Lecture from 11-13u in Sa-41
14/9 t/m 19/10 workgroups;
group 01 from 11-13 hrs in 0A33 except; 14/9 in1A27 and 28/9 in 1a41
group 02 from 11-13 hrs in 5A41 except: 14/9 and 28/9 in 1A-01, 5/10 in 1A47
group 03 from 13-15 hrs; 14/9 and 5/10 in 5A41, 21/9 in 1A21, 28/9 in 1A01 and 12/10,19/10 in 1A22
group 04 from 13-15 hrs in OA33 except; 28/9 and 19/10 in 1A41

Wednesday 26/10 from 13-16 hrs in USC