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Democracy, Bureaucracy, Public Choice



This course introduces the students to the economic theory of collective decision making (also known as ‘public choice’ or the positive theory of political decision making). Important insights based on this approach include Downs’ theory on party competition, Niskanen’s insights on the behavior of bureaucrats, and Olson’s work on collective action problems. In this course, we further explore the applications of this approach to various problems and dilemma’s in political science and public administration. In addition, we also discuss game-theory and the spatial theory of voting as analytical tools often used to make public choice arguments.

Learning objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
• Critically assess academic research in the field of public choice;
• Analyze collective decision making problems using game theory and spatial models;
• Carry out independent academic research into real-world collective decision making problems, and report on the results of this research in presentation and writing



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures, tutorials and a presentation. This course is compulsory.

Method of assessment

  • Research paper (50%)
    • Presentation of student research (25%)
    • Presentation of article from reading list (25%)

One resit exists in case of an insufficient overall grade. This will be an oral exam based on the readings and the material discussed in class. The various presentations and the paper cannot be repeated, and this oral exam cannot be taken unless students have submitted their final paper before the final paper deadline.


Yes – 1 October 2014.

Other course materials/literature

  • Textbook: Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Mark S. Bonchek (1997) Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company. or Shepsle, Kenneth A (2010) Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. 2nd edition. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.
    • Academic articles (available through the University Library services).


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Prof. dr. Kutsal Yesilkagit. Office hours by appointment, e-mail: