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Professional skills for public impact


Admission requirements

Professional skills for public impact is an elective course in the BA Public Administration and the minor Public Administration: Multi-level governance.
Dutch proficiency is not necessary (language of conduct is English). You should have obtained your propedeuse before starting this elective course.


This course trains you how to become effective in providing policy advice to political decision-makers and getting things done in a public context. As reflected in many definitions, public policies consist of political-administrative decisions for implementing programs to ‘solve’ societal problems. However, developing public policies is not a straightforward affair. Societal problems are often ‘wicked problems’; they are difficult to define, have no stopping rule, and effectively tackling them is a hard task for any party involved. New challenges arise as a result of all sorts of (global) developments, and new solutions are demanded in order to cope with these challenges. Contemporary policymakers are confronted with a wide range of stakeholders (e.g. businesses, interest groups, politicians, citizens, the media) displaying a variety of wishes and interests, which are oftentimes conflicting – or even irreconcilable. Operating in such a complex and demanding environment is highly challenging. How to operate in such a context is what this course is all about.

We will follow three – ostensibly simple – steps in the process of providing policy advice:
1) knowing the game and the players;
2) finding, weighing and selecting suitable sources for your policy advice;
3) building, framing and presenting your advice in a convincing way.​-

Throughout the course different types of skills, ranging from cognitive and interpersonal skills to administrative and strategic skills, are developed, which enable you to make public impact.

Course objectives

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Identify, weigh and use different types of empirical sources relevant for policy advice in a public context;

  • Assess and navigate the ‘wicked’ context in which political decision-makers operate;

  • Provide a thorough policy advice on a specific societal challenge to public decision-makers, in collaboration with other students;

  • Critically reflect on the role of the public professional in creating public value and how to achieve public impact.



Mode of instruction

Interactive seminars. The first part of each seminar provides a theoretical reflection, the second part is a work lab aimed at building and further strengthening professional skills for effective policy advice.

Course Load

Total study load of this course is 140 hours, of which contact hours: 2 hrs. per week x 7 weeks = 14 hrs.
Self-study hours: 126 hrs. preparing for lectures and work labs, studying literature, completing assignments, preparing presentations, etc.

Assessment method

Individual essay assignment (40%)
Written group report, policy advice (40%)
Group presentation, policy advice (20%)


A Blackboard site will be made available for this course. Students can enroll at least two weeks before the start of the course.

Reading list

  • Van der Wal, Z. (2017) The 21st century public manager, Palgrave. ISBN 9781137507426 (paperback version).

  • Some academic articles (to be specified in the course manual), available via the Leiden University online catalogue


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Mark Reijnders