nl en

Public Organisation and Policy Theory


Admission requirements

Only Premaster students can take this course.


This preparatory master course provides basic knowledge on public organizational theory and policy theory. The course is divided into three parts: the first three weeks are used to address public organization theory, especially as it applies to the problems and opportunities of public management. The next three weeks will be used to deal with theories of public policy: especially on the determinants and on the social and institutional context of policy-making. The last three weeks focus on the problem of policy implementation in street-level bureaucracies. The literature in this course examines main concepts associated with public policy and organizational theory, and identifies and discusses major authors and scholarly works associated with this field.

Learning objectives

In the end of the course, students are expected to have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  • knowledge about the main concepts, theories and authors in the field of public organisations and public policy,

  • appreciation of the variety of different analytical angles how public organisations and policy may be examined,

  • a skill to apply a theoretical approach on analyzing a real life situation / case study
    writing an effective (short) academic paper.


No meetings are planned for the course.

Methods of instruction

This course consists of self study.

Method of assessment

  • Multiple choice test on organization theory (30%)

  • Multiple choice test on policy theory (30%)

  • Paper on street-level bureaucracy (40%)

  • Three exercises (pass/fail)

Each of the multiple choice tests may be retaken (a retake exam will be provided). The paper may be resubmitted once. Failure to pass one of the three exercises means you must do an additional assignment. Failure to pass more than one of the three exercises means you will not pass the course.


Yes – one week before the beginning of the course.

Other course materials/literature

  • Denhardt, R.B. (2010) Theories of Public Organization (6th edition, international). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth / Cengage, Inc. The earlier editions (5th or 4th edition) can be used also.

  • Howlett, M., Ramesh, M., Perl, A. (2009). Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles and Policy Subsystems, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (The earlier 2nd edition can also be used.)

  • Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-Level Bureaucracy: The Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.

  • Additional readings in the form of journal articles will be announced on the Blackboard site.


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.


Dhr Brendan J. Carroll (Schouwburgstraat, B1.07), office hours by appointment, e-mail:
Dr. Sarah Giest, Schouwburgstraat, office hours by appointment, e-mail:


This is an E-module taught via Blackboard, based on guided readings and including some (online) group work. No meetings are planned for the course